noticing your kids: little observations mean a lot from parents

noticing your kids: little observations mean a lot from parents

originally published 9/17/09 but republishing now because it’s worth it–


Lately, I’ve felt overwhelmed by Cora’s ‘two-year-old-ness’. noticing your kids  observations mean a lot from parents

Her fiery temper; her constant movement; her unceasing energy; her smiles, hugs, songs, and cuddles; her high high’s, and her low low’s. Some days we enjoy this roller coaster ride, and others, we all want off.

But what I’ve also realized is that as a parent, I’m more experienced than I was when Maddy was two, but I’m not in the fog of fatigue that I muddled through when Owen was the same age. I’m in a different place, and although I sometimes wish that Cora already knew the correct ways of behaving, I seem to have forgotten that those behaviors have to be taught.

So last week, I needed to revisit my old, trusty parenting books for a quick refresher. I didn’t like that I had begun to sound like a broken record, ordering everyone around, raising my voice, and being a reactive parent instead of a proactive parent.

I needed to stop, breathe, and really start to notice the behaviors I wanted her to continue. And then I needed to share with her what I noticed.

It’s all about “shining your light” where you indicate value:

  • Noticing Behaviors: The goal with noticing is to state an observation rather than make a judgement.

NoGood job, Cora.

Yes!Cora, you put your toys in the bin and your clothes in the drawers. You cleaned your room so you can find things when you want them.

Wordy, yes. Takes thought, yes. But it does make sense, especially for our little guys.

Here’s the skinny

  • Start your sentence with the child’s name or the pronoun ‘you’. Look at you!, or I noticed. . .
  • Describe what you see. You found her blanket and gave it to her. That was helpful!
  • End your description with a ‘tag’. Tags describe attributes of your child or values you admire, like that took determination; you sure are organized; that was helpful; that was thoughtful.

Some examples

  • Look at you! You’re eating with your spoon!
  • You did it! You went potty on the big potty. Good for you!
  • Owen, you held the door for Cora. That was helpful.
  • Cora, you offered Maddy a french fry when hers were all gone. That was so thoughtful.
  • Maddy, you picked up all of the doll clothes without being asked. That was super helpful.

Becky Bailey believes that if you accentuate your child’s strengths, you teach them their abilities. If you encourage their contribution, you teach them how important it is that they share their gifts.

It’s hard. It’s so hard. But positive behaviors have to be taught–which is much easier said than done sometimes.

And if we spotlight the behaviors that we want repeated (think: Special Plate), then most likely those behaviors will be repeated.

This Quick Trick is another one from Becky Bailey’s Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline (2000), which has helped me to become more conscious in my disciplining. (When I am disciplined enough to use it!)

I’m far from an expert, hardly the perfect parent, and by nature am quick-tempered and fiery myself (hmmmm, where does sweet Cora get it?), but I am always, always looking for quick tricks to keep in my back pocket. Do share yours!




fyi: affiliate links used in this post

april fools’ pranks and jokes for kids

april fools pranks and jokes for kids |

post contains affiliate links




april fools pranks and jokes for kids |

Seriously, April Fools’ Day is one of my favorite holidays, and I know that’s not normal.

I just think April Fools’ Day gives us a good excuse to get a little silly and throw a few laughs into your kids’–and our–day.   Because all too often, between  homework, activities, meetings, projects, and work, I don’t think we do enough silly things just to be silly.

So there.

I like April Fools’ Day.

I like good, clean April Fools’ pranks and jokes for kids, especially. I like unexpected, strange, and tricky.

I like April Fools’ pranks and jokes that make us do a double-take, ones that don’t hurt and are never super-scary.

And for as long as I can remember, googly eyes make me laugh hard–so I use them a lot.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • April Fools’ Pranks and Jokes for Kids:  I say ‘kids’ but really, these little sillies can be used for anyone with a decent sense of humor.

And as with anything you do with–and for–your kids, of course you must use your discretion. Like if your child is totally frightened of flies, don’t play a fly joke on him. Or if your spouse’s worst nightmare is to fall into a pit of snakes, then maybe you don’t pull out the fake snake.

Take a look at a quickie, three-minute look at all things April Fools’ pranks and jokes for kids:



 fyi: The 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!

april fools pranks and jokes for kids |

Our many hilarious ideas include: 

More April Fools’ Day ideas: 


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


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

fyi: affilliate links used in this post

what to do when your kids find their “passion”

20 project

The following guest post is written by A.J. Juliani, an author, teacher, and ‘learning addict’.   A.J. is a K-12 Technology Educator who believes in #20time and #geniushour. He’s a father and blogger, and you need to check him out.what to do when kids find their passion

He’s even thrown in a rockstar freebie for you. (He seriously rocks.)


  • What to do when your kids find their “passion”, by A.J. Juliani

My daughter had been singing for almost two hours with no break. The song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from the Frozen soundtrack was on repeat, and my wife and I looked at each other.

“She’s pretty good,” we both said as she added a new piece of choreography to her accompanying dance.

In fact, my mind started running about how good she really was, and how great she could become. We all want the best for our own kids and our students. In my daughter’s case we made sure she had a variety of experiences trying new things. From tee-ball and soccer, to swimming and gymnastics, my wife and I watched and supported her along the way.

But this was different. We always knew she liked singing and dancing, but now it had taken on a whole different level. I wondered if my daughter had found her first “passion”.

Chances are you’ve been in this same spot as a parent or teacher. We give our kids a lot of opportunities and when they finally find one they enjoy, we are excited by the possibilities. Sometimes parents and teachers may try to guide a child down a certain path of sports, or music, or learning based on their interests…but usually we wait for that spark of passion to come, and when it does the big question is: What next?

As a high school English teacher I was able to answer this question of “What Next?” when I ran a “20% Project” with my students three years ago. The project was simple. It is based on the “20 percent time” Google employees have to work on something other than their job description. It has been well documented, and Google has exponentially grown as a company while giving this 20 percent time.

After we came back from winter break I gave them this handout:

The 20% Project*

1. For the rest of the year, 20% of your time in my class will be spent working on something you want to work on.

2. It has to be some type of learning, and you have to document it (journal etc).

3. You’ll present your accomplishments to the class twice (and will not be graded on it).

4. That’s it. Have fun. Find your passion. Explore it. Enjoy learning what you want.



Mass confusion set in. Most of my students were trying to figure out what the catch was, asking questions like: “So what are we getting credit for?”, “What kinds of things can we do?”, “Why aren’t we being graded?”, and “I don’t get it Mr. J, what are we supposed to be doing?”

After a few minutes more of explanation my students began to come around. I was not going to grade them on this project, but I was going to keep them accountable. Many times in education we believe the only way to hold students accountable is by giving some form of assessment. But for this project the assessment was in the process. It was how they learned with passion, and learned because it was their choice.

20 project

As I watched my daughter sing I thought about the ways my students dealt with finding and acting on their passions. Some students had a difficult time figuring out what they were really passionate about. Others jumped right in to learn something new. While many of my students struggled with figuring out what to actually do with their time. For each student I had to figure out how to best guide and help them through this process, there wasn’t one fix that would help all of them.

However, there are three important steps that I had each of my students do during our project that helped both them and me answer the question of “What’s next?”

First, my student had to make sure they were truly passionate about what they wanted to learn. In order to differentiate between hobbies, interests, and passions I had them create a “March Madness” bracket and go through a process of elimination. When they pitted their interests against each other, it became clear to them which was really a passion that they could do all day if they were allowed to.

For younger students, I might have them use this PinterestPowerPointTemplate I made to put their interests together and go through a smaller process of elimination. This visual is also a big help regardless of the age.

Second, we had to create clear steps of what they were going to do to learn more and get better at their passion. If they wanted to play the guitar they’d first learn how to string it and play a chord before jumping into learning a song. This process showed them what growth would look like each time they came back to the project.

Third, they would have to find a mentor or guide to help them get to the next level. Often this could come in the form of a book, a YouTube video tutorial, or even a real person. But they would need guidance to continue the growth steps.

The final piece of this was putting it all together and presenting to their peers. While this can be scary, it is also needed. You can’t hide your passion from the world, we need to see it!

I knew with my daughter that three things were true:

1. She thoroughly enjoys singing, and could do it all day if she was allowed to!

2. She wants to get better. Always trying to learn a new song and perfect her rendition.

3. She was going to need help and guidance to get to the next level.

My wife and I enjoy singing but we aren’t going to be able to help her get to the next level. In this case we’ve started looking at lessons and new opportunities to let her grow. I know that I want this always to be my daughter’s choice, because as soon as we begin making decisions to force her down a path, that’s when our kids pull away and begin to lose the initial spark and passion we always want for them.

When your kids find their passion, or begin exploring new interests, make sure you give them choice before giving them guidance. Their instrinsic motivation is what is truly important, and if we can help them do what they love, then learning won’t be a chore. It will be fun and exciting…like it is supposed to be.

Looking for more 20% Time and Passion Learner information?

aj juliani guest post teachmama.comVisit AJ’s blog at AJJULIANI.COM. AJ is a K-12 Technology Staff Developer, and author of two books: “Teach Above The Test” and the upcoming “Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom”. He is also the founder of Education Is My Life and the new digital magazine for educators, “The Best and Next in Education”.

Connect with AJ: Twitter/ Blog/ Google+

Get My Free eBook

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

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

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

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

other posts in the series:

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

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

teaching left handed kids to write: grasp, stages, positioning

teaching left handed kids to write: grasp, stages, positioning

post contains affiliate links


teaching left handed kids to write


The following guest post is written by Christie Kiley. Christie has the job I find amazing and awe-inspiring: an Occupational Therapist.  The work of these professionals is absolutely incredible. Christie is an O/T and mom of two teeny-tiny ones; she writes Check it out.


I am so honored that Amy invited me to share some tips with you today about how to teach lefties to write!

As a pediatric occupational therapist, I work with kids on handwriting all the time. I have found that people are often intimidated or confused about how to teach left handed children to write. To be honest, there really isn’t that much difference between teaching right-handed and left-handed children to write, though there are a few important things to keep in mind. If you are teaching a left-handed child to write, don’t be scared!

Here are a few tips for teaching left handed children to write:

  • Teaching Left-Handed Children–Developmental Stages:


teach left handed kids to write


1) Remember that hand dominance is not expected to fully develop until the Kindergarten years, between ages five and six. If you have a toddler or preschooler who is exhibiting a left-handed preference, it’s possible he could still switch over to become a fully right-handed writer by the time he reaches Kindergarten and begins formal writing instruction. Don’t “force” your kiddo to be left handed because you’re afraid of what might happen if he ends up switching to the other hand. If you allow him opportunities to explore using both hands, he will most likely develop a preference and eventually dominance that utilizes whichever hand demonstrates the greatest skill, strength, and dexterity.

2) If your child truly has established a left-handed dominance, make sure he knows and can verbalize the fact that he is left handed. Sometimes well meaning classroom volunteers and even teachers will switch kids’ pencil to their right hand because they may just assume the child is right handed. This can obviously impact kids negatively and confuse them, so teach them to be able to communicate the fact that they are left handed.

  • Teaching Left-Handed Kids–Grasp:

3) Encourage use of the “tripod” grasp (pinch pencil with index finger and thumb, rest it on the middle finger) just like righties do. This will help with developing dynamic finger movements and proper wrist position later down the road so your child is less likely to “hook” his wrist like lefties are known to do. Children in our current educational system often are not taught how to correctly hold their pencil. Many right handed kids can figure it out just fine but because positioning is a bit trickier for lefties, they may be more likely to develop bad habits that will make it harder for them to grasp and control the pencil as they get older and the writing demands increase.

left handed kids

4) Teach your lefty to hold the pencil in that tripod grasp about 1 to 1 1/2 inches above the tip of the pencil. When lefties move their fingers up the pencil a little higher, it allows them to see what they’re writing so they are less likely to have to hook their wrist in order to have a good view. This should also help them smudge their writing less. If your child keeps forgetting or doesn’t know where to place his fingers, put a sticker at the height he should pinch the pencil in order to provide an easy visual cue.

5) There is no need to purchase any sort of “special” pencils or grippers for your lefty unless it has been specifically recommended by an occupational therapist. Lefties are fully capable of grasping the pencil as maturely and efficiently as righties. However, it’s important for lefty kiddos to use left-handed scissors because of the way the blade is oriented; it allows kids to see where they are cutting and lefty scissors cut cleanly rather than folding or bending the paper. Don’t have access to lefty scissors? Just flip your right-handed scissors upside down in order to switch the blade orientation. This isn’t ideal as far as finger placement goes (thumb will then go in the large hole and the fingers will cram in the little hole), but it’s a quick fix if your lefty needs it. You can purchase left handed scissors by clicking here.

  • Lefties–Arm and Paper Position: 

6) As your lefty kiddo gets older and starts to write more (such as at the end of Kindergarten and moving into first grade and beyond), encourage him to angle his paper with the left corner pointed up. Righties tend to angle the right corner of their paper up, and lefties should do the same with the left side. It places their writing arm in a natural position to be able to write on the lines as they move from left to right without having to excessively hook their wrist.

7) Teach left handed writers to place their paper to the left of their body so they can see what they’re writing. When they finish writing across an entire line, their hand should either be slightly to the left of their midline or just in front of it. This allows them to move more naturally as they keep their wrist straight (rather than hooked), minimize smudging while writing, and see what they are writing.

left handed kids and writing

8) Encourage your child to utilize the right hand as the “helper hand”. Teachers do not always explicitly teach children to stabilize their paper with their non-dominant hand and, for some reason, this is especially true for lefties. The more consistently they stabilize their paper, the less likely it is to slide around and cause frustration while writing.

9) When teaching lefties to copy letters and words, make sure their model is either above where they are writing or directly to the right side of where they are writing so they can actually see it. Most worksheets place the model letter or word on the left side and then leave a blank space on the right for the student to write the letter or word. This is difficult for lefties because their left arm automatically covers up the model, so it may take them longer to complete or may lead to more mistakes because the model is covered up the majority of the time. Not fair to them! The popular handwriting program “Handwriting Without Tears” recognizes this unique need when it comes to the positioning of models and they have customized all of their worksheets so that they are accessible for both righties and lefties. Thank you, HWT!

  • Teaching Left-Handed Children to Write–Letter Formation:

10) Letter formation is generally the same for lefties as it is for righties. Be sure to teach your child to write the letter “o” in the same direction as righties, which is in the counter-clockwise direction. This will help him with his overall speed and fluency of writing later on down the road. The only real difference in formation is that lefties can “pull” their little lines backward to cross their letters (like for lowercase “f” and “t” and for capital “A” “E” “F” “H” “J” “T”) by going from right to left rather than “pushing” from left to right. This is really just to make it less likely that they will tear the paper but if they are able to draw those little lines from left to right like righties, it will also help their writing speed and fluency in the long run.

Regardless of whether your child is left handed or right handed, kids in the preschool years should be focusing mostly on fine motor play as opposed to actually using a pencil and writing letters. Be sure to focus on activities that encourage him to pinch with his thumb and index finger (strengthening those tripod muscles), coordinate the use of his right and left hands together (cutting goes in this category), and generally develop the foundational fine motor strength and skill needed for later writing. Crayons, markers, chalk, paintbrushes, sponges, and other non-pencil writing utensils should be preschoolers’ main tools for coloring and drawing. Additionally, short non-pencil tools are preferred because they help develop that good tripod grasp by naturally encouraging children to pinch with those tripod fingers rather than using additional fingers or a fisted grasp.



I hope these tips are helpful for you and your child as you dive into the world of left handed writing!

00mamaotChristie is a mama to two precious kiddos (a newborn and a toddler) and an OT to many. Join her on her blog ( where she shares helpful tidbits learned from life as both a mom and a pediatric occupational therapist. Want even more helpful tips? Then swing her Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter (@mamaotblog) to find even more helpful tips and tricks.




Thank you, thank you, thank you, Christie, for sharing!

Looking for more activities to promote fine and gross motor in your little loves?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards, filled with indoor fun ideas to engage children in fun activities to promote the development of these foundational fine motor skills:


fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

reading tips and more: scholastic raise a reader blog

scholastic raise a reader blog cover

scholastic raise a reader blog

It’s been an incredibly exciting 2013 so far, with all of the awesome going on over at we teach and the sweet redesign over here at teach mama.

But another something totally fabulous that makes me want to sing and dance is the new role I have taken on with one of my favorite brands of all time: Scholastic.

Along with my longtime pal and good buddy, Allie McDonald, of No Time for Flashcards, I am anchoring the Scholastic Parents Raise a Reader blog along with the amazing Vice President of eScholastic, Maggie McGuire

Woot. Yes. For real. So awesome, right?

It’s a blog chock-full of reading tips and more, with the focus being on doing just what you think: raising readers.

Right up my alley. Totally my ballgame.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Reading Tips and More–Scholastic Raise a Reader Blog: It’s been months and months–well over a year–that we’ve had this in the works, so the fact that we’re finally up and live is so exciting for us all.

On Scholastic Parents site, the Raise a Reader blog provides:

. . . the latest advice, tips, and resources on helping your child read at every age and every stage. Each week, find kids’ book reviews, ways to extend the reading experience, and tips on how to spark a reader’s interests from our expert contributors and editors.

scholastic raise a reader collage 2

photos from Scholastic Raise a Reader blog

We’ve covered topics such as:

scholastic raise a reader blog collage 1

photos from Scholastic Raise a Reader blog

We’ve also written about:

Allie and I are open to any topic, question, concern, or focus that readers need, so anything you’d like to hear specifically, please let us know.

We’re really excited that on May 6th from 9-10pm ET Allie and I will be hosting a Facebook chat on Scholastic Parents’ Facebook page.  It’s a Summer Reading Kick-Off par-tay of sorts, and we’ll be talking all things Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge.

Please join us to find out more about available resources and ways to make summer reading more fun for your crew.  And ask questions! You can submit questions, either below in the comments section or on the Scholastic Parents thread.

Seriously, I love that we’re even close enough to summer to talk summer reading!  Yeee-haw! I can’t wait.


Haven’t had enough of Scholastic yet?

Check out some recent photos from a meeting at the Scholastic building in NYC with some of the Scholastic superstars:


We look forward to chatting with you on May 6th, and thanks for checking us out over at the Raise a Reader blog!

an easy-to-build stage for the performers in your family

how to build a stage |

how to build a stage

That’s right. A stage.

So your kids can totally rock it out during your spring break Staycation.  Or so your house becomes THE house for playdates.  Or so you and your husband can John and Olivia to some Summer Lovin’.  Or whatever floats your boat.

Think: a stage for plays, songs, acts, dances. Lots of pretending, lots of imagining, lots of dreaming.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora woke up Christmas morning to their very own homemade stage–a gift that came complete with rockstar karaoke machine and superstar lights. And it was–hands down–a big win for everyone.

We’ve had kids on stage, parents on stage, grandparents and aunts and uncles on stage. We’ve had cousins on stage and friends on stage and pets on stage.   And that’s only the beginning.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • An Easy-to-Build Stage for the Performers in Your Family:  I’m going to let my amazingly talented father-in-law take over here, since he and my husband were the masterminds behind this awesome stage.

They did the hard part. The planning and heavy lifting. I embellished.


from planner & stage builder, Tom Mascott:

Last fall our son asked me to help him build a simple stage for his and Amy’s three kids, ages 5, 7, 9.  Like most kids they love to do skits, sing karaoke and dance.  They thought a stage would be fun to highlight the kids’ performances.

We designed an easy-to-build 4’x6’ stage made up of two, independent 3’x4’ platforms, which can be used separately, or bolted together to make one larger stage.  Two platforms have the advantages of being lighter to move and being able to use only one when floor space is limited.

The kids love it.  Turns out to be fun for the entire family, including Grandma and I who perform a mean karaoke number.  On stage is a great place to spend fun time together with the family.

how to build a stage finished

Material list:

  • 4-  2”x6”x8’ pine*
  • 1-  2”x4”x8’ pine*
  • 1-  4’x8’x 5/8” plywood- good one side
  • 1¼ “ flat-head wood screws
  • 3”  flat-head wood screws
  • 2-  3½”x1/2” dia. hex bolts, four washers and two hex nuts
  • 8-  1½ “ corner brackets and approximately 35- ¾” round-head wood screws**
  • Wood glue
  • Linoleum or other flooring material and appropriate glue
  • Wood filler
  • Paint, we used interior, high-gloss enamel, latex black paint

*It is important to select framing lumber that is straight, without being bowed or twisted.

** We used ¾” sheet metal screws, which worked just as well.


build a stage tools

Tools required  

  • Power circular hand saw
  • Hand power drill
  • 10’+ tape measure
  • Carpenter square
  • Phillips head screw driver
  • Hammer
  • Selection of small drill bits, ½” flat drill or round drill
  • Counter-sink bit to drill for counter sinking wood screws.  You can use a standard, round drill bit but be careful not to drill too deep a hole.
  • Two clamps
  • Tools required for installing the type of glue and flooring you choose
  • Medium grade (60-80 grit) sand paper
  • Sanding block
  • Paint brush
  • Wrench to tighten bolts and nuts



1.  Cut the tops of both platforms.  Cut two 3’x4′ pieces from the 4’x8′ sheet of plywood.  All corners must be square.

build a stage: wood

cut framing lumber

2.  Cut framing lumber.  From each 2″x6″x8′ cut a 35 15/16″ piece and a 44 15/16″ piece.  (The 1′ length remaining from each 2″x6″ will not be used.) Use a carpenter square when drawing cut lines.  Place the 2″x6″s along the edges of the plywood to see if they are the correct length.  The longer pieces will fit inside the shorter ones. The 2″x6″s should fit just inside the edges of the plywood.  If they fit properly, they’re ready to be attached.   (see photo)

3.  Screw plywood to framing lumber.  The “better” side of the framing 2″x6″s should face out.  We preferred to screw the plywood to the frame using 1 1/4″ wood screws, 8”-10” apart, before screwing the frame together, however either order works.

Later, the two platforms will be bolted together along the 4’ sides.  Identify which 4’ sides will be fastened together.  It is critical that the 2’x6”s NOT stick out past the edge of the plywood along these sides.

build a stage

fasten one 2’x6′ at a time (photo 3)

Fasten one 2’x6” at a time.  Pre drill and counter sink screw holes in the plywood.  Spread wood glue on the top edge of the 2″x6″s before screwing down plywood.  The 2″x6″s should be attached just inside the edges of the plywood. (see photo 3)

4.  Screw the corners of the 2″x6″s together using 2- 3″ wood screws in each corner.   Pre drill and counter sink screws.


build a stage photo 3

install corner brackets (photo 4)

5.  Install corner brackets.  Fasten the corner brackets to each inside corner of each platform, up approximately 1″-1 1/2″ from the bottom edge of the frame using 3/4″ round-head wood screws.  Pre-drill screw holes.  (see photo 4)


build a stage photo 5

cut and attach 2’x4′ supports (photo 5)

6.  Cut and attach 2″x4″ supports.  Turn both platforms upside down.  Cut the 2″x4″s to fit snugly inside the 3′ sides of each frame.  Apply wood glue to one edge of the 2″x4″s.  Place the glued edge down on plywood half way between sides of frame.  Screw in place with 2- 3″ wood screws at each end.  Pre drill and counter sink screws.  Turn platforms right side up and screw plywood to 2″x4″s with 1 1/4″ wood screws.  Counter sink screws.  (see photo 5)

7.   Prepare frame for painting.  Fill the groves between plywood and 2″x6″s, and the holes in the frame with wood filler.  Also, fill all screw holes in frame and plywood.  Sand wood filler when filler dries.  Refill any holes that remain and sand.  Also, sand any splinter edges on the plywood and frame.

We primed and painted the frame before installing linoleum.

8.  Install the flooring to the top of the platforms.  The surface of the plywood should be smooth with no screw heads sticking up and free of dust and debris.  Cover each platform separately. Refer to manufacture’s instructions when gluing flooring to plywood.

If you use linoleum, cut 2 pieces, each piece at least 2″ longer and wider than the platform.  If there is a pattern in the floor covering, be careful to cut and install each piece so that when the two platforms are side by side the pattern is repeated from one platform to the other.  Remember, platforms will be attached along the 4′ sides that you identified in Step 3.


build a stage photo 2

trim excess flooring (photo 2)

After glue dries, trim excess flooring back to edge of plywood.  We used a utility knife to trim our linoleum.  (photo 2)


build a stage photo 6

fasten two platforms together (photo 6)

9.  Fasten the two platforms together.  Stand up the two platforms on the 3’ sides such that the two 4’ sides that will be bolted together are next to each other.  Clamp the two platforms together.  Check to be sure that the surface of the platforms are flush, as well as the 2”x6” sides.  If adjustment is necessary, loosen the clamps slightly, adjust the frames as needed and re-tighten the clamps.  (photo 6)


build a stage photo 4

drill holes (photo 4)

Drill two ½” holes through the double 2”x6”s, each about 8”-10” from the end.  Put a washer on each bolt, tap the bolts through the holes, slip on a second washer and turn on a nut.  Tighten snugly.  Remove clamps.  Lower top edge of stage to floor.  (photo 4)

how to build a stage: bottom

My husband (and Brady) tighten up the stage before we set it out. . .

how to build a stage: decorate - 01

. . . and now it’s ready to go!

Your stage is finished!


Do you want the Easy-to-Build Stage Directions to download and print? Here they are: Easy-to-Build Stage Directions.

Have questions as you’re building? Feel free to tweet with my father-in-law: @TMascott

Thank you, thank you, Tom for doing an incredible job with this!!


 Now? Make that stage even more beautiful than it already is! Decorate!

how to build a stage: decorate - 04

taping our mirror plates

how to build a stage: decorate - sheers

We hung two plastic hooks on the wall for the ‘curtain’. . .

how to build a stage: decorate - ribbon

. . . and secured it with a fancy-schmancy ribbon.

These may not be exactly what we used, but they’re pretty darn close. 

The possibilities are endless–I’d love to see what other people come up with, so do please share your photos here or on our facebook page!


how to build a stage--finished

My dream was a curtain that opened and closed, but that was just too much for us with the holiday crunch. Maybe soon!


And that’s it–an easy-to-build stage for the little (and not-so-little) performers in your family.  Something that will yield hours of fun family time, loads of memories, and (okay, I’ll be honest) maybe a headache or two. . . but it’s so worth it.

What are you waiting for? Get the stage plans printed, get to the hardware store, and start building–then watch those creative-kids go!


fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post.  Many thanks for your consideration in using them!

Huge, huge, huge and happy thanks to my husband and his talented dad, Tom Mascott,  for their hard work in making our stage dream come true! Thanks also to Tom for writing this detailed and difficult post with easy-to-follow directions. You both are amazing, and we are s lucky to have you!  What’s that next project going to be, I wonder? . . . 

5 parenting tricks for the busy holiday season

5 parenting secrets

5 parenting secretsI know I need all the parenting tricks I can carry any day of the week, let alone during the busy holiday season.

Though I’m not proud to admit it, holiday time often finds me over-stressed and anxious–and often I’m not the mom, spouse, sister, or friend I really wish I could be.

So I moseyed on back through my archives tonight for some parenting Quick Tricks. Little treats to keep in my back pocket this season so I’m more who I want to be and less of a holiday brat.

This year, I’m laying low. Keeping priorities up front and these five parenting tricks close at hand for the busy holiday season.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 5 Parenting Tricks for the Busy Holiday Season: In no particular order. . .

5 parenting tricks for busy holiday season be positive

1. Be Positive.  In interactions with friends and family, while you’re with your kids and while your kids are with you.

Even when you’re alone. Thinking and acting positively helps. In so many ways.

It’s about believing our children are moving with positive intent and letting our kids hear us say positive things about them.

If we think and truly believe that our kids are trying their best, we can slow down, back up, and use it as a learning experience:

  • State the child’s positive motive. (You wanted a turn to color. . . )
  • State the skill he used to achieve his goal. (. . . so you grabbed the crayon.)
  • State the limit and why it is needed. (You may not grab. Grabbing hurts.)
  • Teach the child what you want him to do or say instead. Then ask him to do or say those actions. (When you want a turn to color, say, ‘I want a turn to color, too. Which color can I use?’ Say it now.)
  • Praise and encourage your child for being willing to try a different approach. If possible, point out how the new approach proved successful. (You did it! Now he gave you the yellow crayon so you can color, too.)

Being positive means that our kids hear us say positive things about them–and others.  And seriously, kids can hear us in the car, my friends. When we’re on our cells in the grocery store or while we’re chatting and they’re on the iPad. They can hear us. 

And if they hear us going on and on in a negative way about a friend, colleague, or spouse, they’ll think it’s okay. And they’ll do the same with their friends, and it’s an awful, toxic cycle.

Yes, it’s not always easy to think about this stuff when we’re running here, there, and everywhere, but this is a start.  It’s about being aware. And being willing to change.

5 parenting tricks for busy holiday season 2

2. Use Wait Time Especially during this insanely busy time, we need to use wait time.  With our kids, spouses, with ourselves.

Wait Time is simply giving people time to wait–and think–before they share an answer. It’s as simple as saying, at dinner (or breakfast or lunch or whenever you can sit down to eat with your family):

What a busy day it was today!  We did so many things! Everyone think for a minute about something that made you smile today. Don’t yell it out–we’ll take turns sharing in a minute. Just think back through the whole day, and when the big hand is on the two (if a clock’s nearby) we’ll all share.

Usually, I seem to move so quickly through the days that I forget to give my kiddos time to think before they answer me. Like most of us, I tend to rush through one thing in order to move to the next, and Wait Time forces everyone to slow down. I know I need to do it more.  But in the end, Wait Time will hopefully help our kids develop more clear thoughts, ideas, and answers, and help them to be more patient little people.


5 parenting tricks for busy holiday season 3

3. Notice Them.  Really. Be there, be specific, and tell them what you see.

The goal with noticing is to state an observation rather than make a judgement. Instead of Good job, Cora, go for Cora, you put your toys in the bin and your clothes in the drawers. You cleaned your room so you can find things when you want them.

Wordy, yes. Takes thought, yes. But it does make sense, especially for our little guys.

  • Start your sentence with the child’s name or the pronoun ‘you’. Look at you!, or I noticed. . .
  • Describe what you see. You found her blanket and gave it to her. That was helpful!
  • End your description with a ‘tag’. Tags describe attributes of your child or values you admire, like that took determination; you sure are organized; that was helpful; that was thoughtful.


  • Look at you! You’re eating with your spoon!
  • You did it! You went potty on the big potty. Good for you!
  • Owen, you held the door for Cora. That was helpful.
  • Cora, you offered Maddy a french fry when hers were all gone. That was so thoughtful.
  • Maddy, you picked up all of the doll clothes without being asked. That was super helpful.

Need more information on the noticing deal? Check out Quick Trick, Noticing.


5 parenting tricks for busy holiday season 4

4. Start My Day, Your Day (now).  Really. The most efficient way of eliminating bickering over here, and we’ve been using this method for months and months and months now. It’s My Day, Your Day.

  • Have a problem? Ask: Who’s day is it?
  • Two kids want the same toy? Remind them: How can you work through this? Who’s day is today?
  • Need a helper in the kitchen? Find out whose day it is.
  • Have one extra Hershey’s Kiss? Give it to the guy–or gal–who’s on the calendar.
  • Dog didn’t get fed? Check the calendar for the guy–or gal–who forgot to do the job.

The premise is simple: assign each child a day of the week, rotate the schedule through the month, so that each day is someone’s ‘day’.  That person is the helper, newspaper fetcher, chooser of seats, first to get oj, breaker up of arguments or bickers.

It’s so easy, you can start in December, no problem. Just start it soon so that it’s old hat come crazy time.  And in January, get your family into Gem Jars. It helps!


5 parenting tricks for busy holiday season 5

5. Give them Choices. Give them Go’s.  Instead of forcing kiddos to do things, giving them choices hands them some control.  And giving Go’s, feels so much better than saying, No! Stop! No more! all day long.

Giving kids choices will literally change your parenting life–but it takes time to learn and incorporate into your every day.

We’re not talking about giving little kids 15 choices to complicate their brains and make the morning crazier; we’re talking two choices. Two.  And if two is too much, a simple, Looks like you’re having trouble making

  • Would you like to wear this shirt or this shirt?
  • I’ll help you get dressed. What do you want to put on first–your pants or t-shirt?
  • You decide–pink hat or blue hat today?
  • What would you like to finish first–your chicken or your noodles?

And giving Go’s is just a paradigm shift: moving from No!!! to Go! or sure, but you’ll do it on my terms kinda thing.

  • from: Noooooooo! Get your hands off of Grandpa’s Christmas train!!!!!  to One finger. You may gently touch Grandpa’s train with one finger.
  • from: No more running in the house! to Head outside and run around the house five times.
  • from: No more cookies. Don’t ask again. to You may have a cookie after you eat your dinner. Until then, have some water but use a silly straw!

Not easy, I get it. But it’s about baby steps with this tricky parenting gig. And I promise these little tricks help.


5 parenting tricks for busy holiday season6

And a few extra parenting tricks for the busy holiday time (for good measure and because I’m on a roll. . . )

  • Give them Rest Time.  Kids need to rest. Every. Single. Day.  Especially during holiday time, 30 minutes–even an hour–in their rooms or in a quiet spot by themselves will pay off big time.  (And Rest Time for Mom is muy importante as well!).
  • Get Kids Outdoors.  Every day, even if it’s freezing, just for a little bit get them outside. The benefits of playing outdoors are huge.  And if you can’t get them outdoors, give them time for Free Play. Or better yet, give them time for both.


It’s no secret that ‘disciplining kids is one of the most confusing, difficult and important jobs we have as parents,’ (from Top Discipline Mistakes of Parents, by Great Schools).

Instead of falling into the ole trap–and making one of the top 3 mistakes that most parents make–(which I know I often do!), with a little more conscious discipline, with a little more thought, time, and effort in the words we use with and around our children, hopefully this busy holiday season will move a little more smoothly.

Lots this year has forced me to sit back and be more appreciative of all that I have–that I am sure of–so though I will certainly do my best to share all of our crafty craft projects, holiday treats, and sneaky learning during this festive time, I am going to go a wee bit easier on myself than I have in the past. (Cue my husband’s nodding and clapping, and my girlfriends’ head shaking and eye rolling. . . )

It’s true.

I’m thinking positively–I promise to try.


Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families |

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers |


kids and family gift guide from


teachmama gift guide 2012



holiday gift guide |


how to prepare your family for a weather emergency (especially in the dc metro area)

prepare family for weather emergency

Something’s coming our way.prepare your family for weather emergency

Something big. Something named Sandy who is bringing with her high winds, ‘astronomical’ tides, and rain like we’ve not seen in decades.

I’m trying hard–hard!–not to get swept up in the hype.  I’m trying hard to maintain my calm, find my zen, and be that calm, cool, and collected mom I strive to be. But I am having a really hard time.

I’m nervous.

I’m way nervous.

My husband and I failed miserably a few snowstorms ago with our immature lack of preparedness.  We really did.

But we’re older now, and a wee bit wiser.

And though my husband is playing Joe-Cool now, I, too, am slowly finding my calm–only as we seriously prepare our family for this impending weather emergency. This collision of fifteen storms, the ideal situation–the Perfect Storm–which will be arriving shortly over my very own home and making her way up the coast to my extended family, my sisters, parents, Nana, and friends.


Here’s the skinny. . .

  •  How to Prepare Your Family for a Weather Emergency (especially in the DC Metro area): I say, ‘especially in the DC Metro area because we have a tendency to totally freak out over here.

I mean, like totally freak out.

Like here’s the water aisle in my grocery store at 6:30pm on the Friday before the Sunday middle-of-the-night storm kind of freak out:

prepare family for weather emergency

So it’s easy to fall into the hype.  Plus, we almost always lose power–for anywhere between hours to days. And way back when–before we had kids–and we had fewer cares in the world–no power was fun. It was cool. It was . . . romantic, even.

But now? It’s so not fun, it’s not even a little bit funny.

So here are 10 things we’ve done–and we usually do now–to prepare for any type of weather emergency, be it hurricane, blizzard, tornado, Perfect Storm, whatever:

prepare family for weather emergency

1.  Store water.  We buy water–about 2-3 cases, and we fill our water bottles, our pitchers, small sports coolers. And sometimes–if the tub’s clean, we’ll fill it, too.

2.  Find ice & gather coolers.  I’ll bag up the ice from our ice-maker, filling a few gallon ziploc bags.  And (thanks to my smart sister, Mary) today is the first day I’ve filled quart bags of water, flattened them out, and froze them. That way, they’ll fit nicely into a cooler if need be.  Because we don’t have a generator, if we lose power, we’ll have coolers close to save what food we have in the fridge–our house fridge and our garage one.

3.  Gather towels and rags.  In a big basket on our lower-level floor, we keep these guys close because, well, you never know.  And buckets. We grab buckets, too.

prepare family for weather emergency


4. Charge devices. This should be numero uno, I know, but sure–everything’s charged. Our battery packs.  Our rechargable radio (we quite frankly love and want to marry the one my parents got us last year–an Eton Self-Powered Digital Flashlight Radio that is an all-in-one-dream. Solar powered, flashlight and cell phone charger).  We fill our gas tanks because we can always charge our phones in cars if need be. We make sure our extra gas can is filled.  My pal Leticia covers just about everything you need to ‘digitally’ prepare for a weather emergency–it’s totally worth reading.

5. Cook food. Any meats in the freezer, I cook. Eggs in the fridge, I boil.  We bake cupcakes and cookies–if we have time–because why not?  Might as well have sweets if we have no power.  And we gather matches because our gas stove can still be used if we can light it.  I grab plastic forks and knives, napkins, paper plates, and garbage bags.  I make coffee and keep a container of it in the fridge.


prepare family for weather emergency

Baking helps–in any situation–

prepare family for weather emergency

and having protein to grab if need be makes me feel more prepared.

6. Prepare house. We try to do the wash (who knows when we’ll be able to do it again?).  We try to pick up toys & tidy things (who wants to be stuck in a dirty house?).  We gather games, playing cards, craft supplies (who knows when we’ll see other people again?).  We gather blankets, socks, sweatshirts, pillows, flipflops or boots–whatever we may need.  We turn up the refrigerator to the highest setting to keep it cooler.

7. Prepare yard. Obvious, I know.  But pulling in the yard furniture, placing it all either in the garage or under a tarp and against our house helps. We keep the area under our windows free and try to keep things low and flat.  We cover our wood pile and clean gutters–my husband’s most favorite job in the world. He’ll go up on the roof and get all of the junk out of the gutters so that the rain will flow freely. Out of our gutters and down the drains properly.

prepare family for weather emergency sky 2b8.Prepare kids.  We try to keep it cool.  We talk frankly and honestly about the situation, telling them the information they need to know and we do not–I repeat, do not–leave the news on the television.  Not in this situation or ever.  We think our kids are way too young for it, and though we read the newspaper with them every day, we really pick and choose what we cover.  The hype of the storm on tv will do nothing but freak them out.

9.Prepare self.  Mostly prepare me–I should say.  If a storm’s a comin’, vain me will shower and do my hair because I know it will make me totally cranky to go without for several days.  I’ll get myself into the ‘game’–I’ll finish up on my work so that I’m a little bit ahead instead of feeling behind and totally stressed out (even though I can’t control it).  I’ll let all of our ‘game time‘ tickets fall to the wayside so the kids can fill up on electronics while I catch up.

 10. Pray. Really. For sanity. For safety. For strength in any situation that may arise. For clarity and for thanks for all we have.

11. Relax. And try to have a little fun with it.

And that’s it. I’m sure I forgot a ton, but I’ve got some brownies in the oven and a load of wash to fold. And then the fun begins. . .

Need more?

Do you have a family tradition that helps you get through events like this, weather emergencies or something similar? Please do share them with me! I’m always up for learning more.  Wishing everyone a safe trek through this weather emergency. . .


fyi: This blog post is part of an incentivized online influencer network for Mom’s Homeroom. Mom’s Homeroom is brought to you by Frosted Mini-Wheats. 

Some affiliate links are included in this post. If you’re cool with it, please consider using them  so your friend over here at will score an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie cut of your purchase.

water bead free play: relaxing, soothing, & so totally worth it

water beads free play - 18

water bead free play During the school year, my kids are tired.

Their days are long, the nights are short, and quite frankly, they’re just tired.

Add an afternoon activity one or two days a week–which I know they need as much as they need the academic part of their days–and, well, they’re even more tired.

So we try to keep weekends free, and we do our best to keep at least two weeknights activity-free as well.

But what I’ve been doing lately is pulling out some of our old favorites for a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon–crafts and toys and resources that Maddy, Owen, and Cora can just breeze through at their leisure.

They love it.

And so do I.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Water Bead Free Play– Relaxing, Soothing, & So Totally Worth It:  Who says that elementary schoolers shouldn’t play with play-dough?

Why can’t they finger paint or play with pipe cleaners or water beads?

water bead free play

Maddy sorts her water beads. . .

water bead free play

. . . and Owen does the same.

Stomp in mud? Yes. String beads? Absolutely.  Play freely with water beads? You bet.

I think they can–and should add time in the day for such things. . . but I also know very well that there’s a whole lot of other really important stuff they need to cover in school, so I’m doing more to throw these important elements into our weekends.

Not a lot–totally no stress–but just sneaking it in when we can, even if it’s only for a few minutes here and there.

water bead free play

Maddy sorts —

water bead free play

–and Cora sorts–and they admire how colors change as they remove and add certain beads.

This weekend I brought out the ole water beads–sans our homemade light table–and though we left them in the cabinet over the summer and they stunk like the nastiest of nasty, Maddy and I scoured, scented, washed, and rinsed our beads until they were as good as new. 

And after the beads were fresh and clean, while Owen was at soccer, the girls and I put the beads in three separate baking dishes so we could appreciate their clear, colorful beauty.  I pulled down our small recyclables bin, and Maddy and Cora took out a few cups, bowls, cans, and jars to use with their beads.

They wanted to use spoons and try to use chopsticks, which was cool with me.

And then they played.  And I was reminded of how completely relaxing and totally soothing water beads are.

water bead free play

Another good reason to keep those recyclables

water bead free play

–you never know when they’ll come in handy!

We just sat, and we chatted. And we squeezed and pinched and squirmed and enjoyed the cool of the beads on our hands.  Maddy and Cora sorted–on their own–and they mixed and traded and pretended they were fairies preparing their fairy food and I was the fairy head cook.

Then Owen came home from soccer and he took my spot and they added him to the mix.

We all just sat and chatted, and the kids squeezed and pinched and squirmed and enjoyed the cool of the beads on their hands.  They did more sorting and more mixing and more trading and more pretending and just. . . played.

And I listened and just enjoyed where we were, vowing that every so often–more often than not now–to pull out these old faves so that my kids can relax, chat, slow down, and just enjoy where they are.

I love these things.  They’re really fun for kids, and you may be surprised at how much you’ll love them yourself:

fyi: Affiliate links are included in this post. If you’re cool with it, use the links and then not only will you end up with some awesome water beads of your very own, but your friend over here at will score a teeny cut of your purchase. (And I mean teeny-tiny-teeny, but it all counts, rights? ) Thank you!

keeping kids’ teeth clean during a candy-filled month

oral care challenge

oral care challengeI am admittedly not a flosser.

I rarely floss my own teeth, and I rarely floss my kids’ teeth.

There. I said it.

And though I am past the point of lying about it to our dentists, I still do feel really guilty about it.

It’s just that there are so many things to do and remember as a parent, that I just. Can’t. Do. It. All.

None of us can.

So when I was invited to take my little familia on a 3-week Oral Care Challenge, I thought that maybe it would assuage my feelings of guilt for being a loser mom on the oral care front. And being that it’s a candy-filled month I thought I absolutely had to jump on board—especially with all the candy we put away over here.

The very cool thing is that I agreed to do this only because every other family who reads can also jump on board from their very own homes. All it takes is a few oral care items found at almost any grocery store and a concerted effort on the whole family’s part to make this work.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 3-Week Oral Care Challenge: We’re rockin’ the Listerine Smart Rinse Sweet Smart Challenge, and so far, we’re only on day four.

But so far, Maddy, Owen, and Cora are totally digging it.

The Oral Care Challenge is not that involved. All we’re required to do is brush, floss and rinse every day, twice a day for three weeks.

Floss (gah!) twice a day for three weeks? Could we do it? I wasn’t sure, but I accepted the challenge.

I added ‘Floss & Rinse’ to Maddy, Owen, and Cora’s Morning and Evening Schedule, and I set us up for the challenge. Each child was able to pick a brand new toothbrush and his or her very own bottle of Smart Rinse. Woot! We never used this before—so it was totally exciting for us all.

I pulled out our flossing friends—the little helper guys that our dentist gives us that usually just sat abandoned in the medicine cabinet. I set them up, and we were rockin’ and rollin’.


oral care challenge

As part of the Challenge, we had access to a chat with Fern Ingber, Founding President and CEO of America’s ToothFairy and picked up a few important—and scary facts on oral care and children:

  • Oral disease has become the #1 chronic childhood disease.
  • 44% of American kids will suffer from pediatric dental disease before they reach Kindergarten.
  • 43% of all Americans lack dental insurance.

America’s ToothFairy is a nonprofit focusing on the elimination of preventable childhood dental disease, and with the help of Johnson & Johnson, helped over 50,000 kids receive oral health services.

Teachmama Morning Evening Questions 2.0 — updated!
Pediatric dentist Dr. Keneta Lott also shared some new-for-me information on oral care:

  • Parent should brush their kids’ teeth until the age of 8 years old.
  • Brushing should last 2 minutes and rinsing should last 60 seconds.
  • Even brushing without toothpaste is something—and kids need to do it every day, twice a day. Dr. Lott’s kids brushed with water but flossed and rinsed with fluoridated mouthwash and never had cavities.
  • If teeth are touching, then kids need to floss.
  • Gummy bears, raisins, taffy, and potato chips stick to teeth and are the worst for good oral care.
  • Dark chocolate candies contain tannins which help protect teeth so they’re better for you.
  • Sugar-free gum is okay to chew and actually may help keep teeth cleaner if chewed after meals.

I learned a whole lot that I never knew before, and though I’m totally out of my comfort zone here with the rinsing and flossing, I’m ready to try it.

Consider joining our family in the Oral Care challenge along with us–and we’ll all move into a candy-filled month together!

Fyi: This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Listerine Smart Rinse and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own, influenced only by my three little non-flossers and my non-flossing self. 

morning and evening reminders for kids: easy reader style

morning and evening reminders for kids: easy reader style

Every day is a little bit different in our house—and everyone’s house.morning evening schedule for early readers

But deep down, we all thrive on consistency, on patterns, on schedules.

I’ve always been a big fan of implementing a daily schedule for kids, even when parents are home and kids arent yet in school, incorporating some sort of routine is good for the soul.

When Maddy, Owen, and Cora were younger—actually up through this past summer, even, we scheduled a necessary ‘rest time’ into our day.  More for Cora, who at 5 years old still needed 30 minutes or an hour to herself, our rest time after swim practice and lunch (but before we headed back out to play) was an eagerly anticipated part of our day.

For kids and mom.

But during the school year, our mornings and evenings need some sort of schedule.  Otherwise, I sound like a broken record and the kids start seriously tuning me out.

And because I have two readers and one emerging reader, I decided to create a little reminders for my kids–easy-reader style so that everyone can decode on their own.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Morning and Evening Reminders for Kids– Easy-Reader Style: They’re easy-reader style only because they have words and a related image alongside, not because they include only easy-reader words.

These are simply ‘Good Morning!’ and ‘Good Evening’ signs that the kids flip back and forth to remind them of what they need to do each morning and night.

morning and evening reminders for kids: easy reader style

Morning reminders. . .

morning and evening reminders for kids: easy reader style

. . . and Evening Reminders help teach my kiddos what they need to do at the beginning and end of the day.

I’m trying my best to give them more freedom–more independence and autonomy over their days–and I think that this gives them what they need to do and allows them the wiggle room to do it on their own.

Do we have a little incentive to get them through this list? Absolutely. If they do all of these things without me having to remind them for a few days in a row, it’s a gem in the Gem Jar.   If they need constant reminding, we’ll take one out.

Simple as that.

Want to download the Morning and Evening Reminders for Kids for your own hizzouse? 

Here it is: teachmama morning evening questions 2.0

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

morning and evening reminders for kids |


morning and evening reminders for kids |

teachmama morning evening questions 2.0

And that’s it–just a quickie little trick to throw in your back pocket–and to (hopefully!) save your voice from yelling and prodding and gently reminding. . .

Any other suggestions? Please let me know what works–or has worked–for you! I’m always willing to learn how to make this crazy parenting gig a little more softer for my old bones!