camp google: ocean, space, music and nature weeks

camp google

camp google | teachmama.com

Friends.

I have been working with National Geographic Kids for some time now, as one of their ‘Insiders’ and honestly the coolest thing about it is that I get kind of ‘behind-the-scenes’ information that I can share with you.

Honestly.

Fab books, cool programs, you name it.

And this summer, National Geographic has partnered with Khan Academy, National Parks, and NASA to create some really rockstar at-home ‘camps’ for kids.

Really. It’s called ‘Camp Google’, and of course, along with our tabletop surprises, it’s going to make our summer one that my kids will never forget.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Camp Google–Ocean, Space, Music, and Nature Weeks:

Everything you need is right here–

Check out the video that tells you everything you need to know about Camp Google:

Each week will feature resources and activities led by experts.  You can do them any time you want.

When kids finish an activity, they earn a badge.

You know how kids love badges.

camp google badges | teachmama.com

 

Week One, Ocean Week:

Camp Google- teachmama.com

 

Week Two, Space Week:

camp google | teachmama.com

 

Week Three, Nature Week:

camp google

 

Week Four, Music Week:

 

 

camp google

 

 

I’m thrilled to be able to share this information with you as a fun summer resource for you and your kids.  Check back every week. Let me know what you think!

 

What did you do that really rocked this week? We’d love to hear it!

 

______________________

 

Join us!

 

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

 

Find something fun to do this summer by following our summertime fun board: 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board summer fun & cool for kids on Pinterest.
 

Share it!

camp google  teachmama.com cover 2

 

 

FINAL INSIDER LOGO Hi-Res

So happy to be a National Geographic Kids Insider!

 

need something fun and unplugged for kids?

tabletop surprises week 4 teachmama.com

tabletop surprises week 4  teachmama.com

Friends.

We’re rocking and rolling this summer.

We’re doing just about everything we can to keep ourselves smiling and sane in between 50 thousand swim and dive meets. And though it’s so fun, just about every year we hit a wall come mid July.

Before we know it, though, summer swim and dive will be over, and we’ll (sob!) be getting ready for a new school year.

So like we do every summer, we’re playing with some tabletop surprises so that Maddy, Owen, and Cora can find their own time through the day to explore the fun I’ve got planned.

Tabletop surprises keep the kids active and engaged. And most days, it gives them something unplugged to do in their down time.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Need Something Fun and Unplugged for Kids?

This week we

 

Monday:

watercolor day! #tabletopsurprises #summerfun #artsycraftsy #paint #painting #watercolors

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

  Tuesday:

watercolor day! #tabletopsurprises #summerfun #artsycraftsy #paint #painting #watercolors

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on


Wednesday:

  Thursday:


Friday:

     

What did you do that really rocked this week? We’d love to hear it!

 

______________________

 

Join us!

 

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

Check out our summertime fun posts: 

 

Find something fun to do this summer by following our summertime fun board: 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board summer fun & cool for kids on Pinterest.
 

Share it!

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

anchored: finding hope in the unexpected: a book for all parents (giveaway! #AnchoredHope)

anchored: teachmama.com

anchored: teachmama.com

 

Confession: There are days I don’t appreciate my life the way I should.

I stress over a sink full of dishes, crumb-covered counters, and unmade beds.

Some days, when I hear my kids bickering, I want to poke my eyes out.  When I watch four people walk by a pile of clothes on the stairs, I want to weep. (I mean, can’t someone take them upstairs?)

But reading Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected, by Kayla Aimee, has brought me down. It’s grounded me during these long summer days when trying to work with three kids home all day makes me feel like I’m getting nothing right and doing everything wrong.

Anchored has reminded me to really, truly appreciate all that I have because really?  This is a good life.anchored | teachmama.com

anchored: finding hope in the unexpected: a book for all parents

Actually, it’s a great life.

And I have so much to be thankful for.

I know this–believe me. I am grateful, but we all need reminders sometimes, don’t we?

I’m thrilled to be able to share this gift of a book with my you, my friends, many of whom are parents yourselves.

And I even have a fun giveaway for you.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected:

Really, Anchored is a book for everyone, whether you’re a parent or not. This is a story that reminds us to look for hope in unexpected places.

It’s a story for anyone who has wondered, ‘Where is God in this?’

My friend Kayla Aimee tells the story about her journey to motherhood after struggling with infertility for years.  She tells her story about being a mom to a micro-preemie.

A micro-preemie, friends.

Do you even know what a micro-preemie is? I didn’t until I met Kayla.

A micro-preemie is a baby born under three pounds and before 26 weeks.  Can you even imagine?

anchored | teachmama.com

anchored | teachmama.com

Kayla gave birth to Scarlette Vonne at 25 weeks. Scarlette was one pound, eight ounces.

Twenty-five weeks. One pound, eight ounces.

I had known much of Kayla’s story before reading this book, but I had not a clue about the details. The challenges. The victories. The stress that the experience placed on her family, relationships, and her faith.

Kayla is not only one of the coolest women I know; she’s smart, savvy, beautiful inside and out, and to boot, she’s hilarious. And she’s a rockstar writer.

anchored | teachmama.com

So this book gracefully weaves together her story, a story that may seem foreign to many but to which so many of us can relate.  Everyone should have this book on his or her bookshelf.

We may not be parents of a micro-preemie, but each one of us has undoubtedly experienced some sort of challenge in our life that has pushed us, stretched us, or leveled us, forcing us to reach high for strength and to hang tightly to our anchors.

 

I am thrilled to be able to share with you an opportunity for your own copy of this book, along with a cool little extra to top it off.

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: A signed copy of Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected, by Kayla Aimee and an 8×10 art print painted by Ruth of Gracelaced.com!

Anchored_D

Do you want to win a signed copy of Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected, by Kayla Aimee and an 8×10 art print painted by Ruth of Gracelaced.com??!  Yes, yes you do.
——————————-

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

This giveaway ends Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 07/15/15.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

——————————-

But wait. There’s more! There’s something for everyone here!

AnchoredPrintable2a

Even if you order this book on your own, you’ll be able to download the attached printable art from Gracelaced as your free gift. Awesome, right?

Pair the book with the artwork and some of the goodies below, and you have a really awesome gift for a mom, sister, friend, neighbor:

 

fyi: This post was inspired by Kayla Aimee’s new book, Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected. Order your copy of #AnchoredHope today to receive a free e­book and art print by clicking here

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy.

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

summer fun learning for kids  teachmama.com Week two of tabletop surprises is in the books, and it was a blast!

Because my crew was busy fighting off some pretty awful summertime colds, we did a bit of re-arranging with our tabletop surprises calendar this week.

But you know what? That’s the awesome thing about it: you can do what you want. When you want.

And the freebie 10 week resource guide includes a whole bunch of awesome extra ideas to use if one day doesn’t work for you. 

This week, we drew, built, wrote, and more.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Fun Summertime Learning for Kids–Tabletop Surprises:

Monday:

Tuesday:  

Wednesday:

Thursday:  


Friday:

 

What did you do that really rocked this week? We’d love to hear it!

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

Check out our summertime fun posts: 

 

Share it!

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

10 cool ways to read the Percy Jackson series

10 ways to read percy jackson | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

Friends!

I’m always so thrilled to share with you fun literacy-related events and celebrations, and this summer, we’ve got a big one: it’s the 10th Anniversary of the publication of The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan. WOOT!

And, as part of the team of bloggers who will be celebrating all summer long the awesome that is Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I’ll be writing a bit each month about why this series rocks and why you—and your kids!—should get on board.

10 ways to read percy jackson | teachmama.com

I’m also giving away an entire boxed set of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. For real.

And I’ll be sharing some cool deals and freebies for you.

Talk about a sweet way to ring in the summer, right?

To kick off this event, I’m sharing some ideas for you. Some cool ways for you toget your Percy Jackson read on.

PercyPackBANNERReady?
Here’s the skinny. . .

10 Cool Ways to Read the Percy Jackson Series:

1. In a museum.  Because this is where The Lightning Thief opens, when Percy realizes that something is just not right.

2. Near an arcade.  In the book, people never age in the arcade. But warning: you will.

3. In bed. Not Crusty’s Water Bed Palace where ‘Crusty’ tries to trick Annabeth and Grover, but your bed. You’re much more safe in  your bed.

4.  On a bus. Percy’s bus breaks down after he sees one of the three ladies cut the yarn with golden scissors. Let’s hope your bus makes the trip!

5.  While in a cabin. Percy goes to Camp Half-Blood, a Greek demi-god training facility on Long Island. Read this book in a cabin as if you’re a camper there, too!

6.  While wearing a baseball cap. Annabelle wears her invisibility Yankee’s cap given to her mom, Athena. Your cap will most likely not make you invisible, but you can pretend.

7. Near the ocean (okay, or a pool or some water).  Percy is the demigod son of Poseidon.  Poseidon is the god of water.  Read near the water to feel a little closer to Percy.

8.  By the light of a lightning bolt (or glow stick).  Percy’s quest in The Lightning Thief is to retrieve Zeus’s stolen master bolt.  Read by the light of a glowstick to feel inspired!

9.  While eating something blue.  Percy’s favorite color is blue, and his mom, Sally, is on a constant quest for blue food.  Eat a little something blue to get in the Percy and Sally spirit.

10.  Near a campfire. Hades appears in the campfire when the quest begins. And so? Your Percy Jackson experience can begin here too!

What do you think? Sound good!

PercyBoxSet

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: A complete boxed set of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series!

Do you want to win your own complete boxed set of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series??!  Yes, yes you do.
——————————-

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

This giveaway ends Tuesday, June 30, 2015 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 06/30/15.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

——————————-

But wait. There’s more!

There’s something for everyone here!

PercyPackBADGE

Check out the awesome freebies below: 

  • The Lightning Thief will be discounted to $.99 across all eBook accounts for one full week (6/15-6/22)! It also includes a sneak peek chapter excerpt from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book One: The Sword of Summer.
  • Catch a sneak peek of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book One: The Sword of Summer — available online at ReadRiordan.com!

 

 

fyi: I’m writing this post as part of a partnership with Disney-Hyperion; however, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little Percy fans.

 

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

fun summertime learning for kids: tabletop surprises

summer fun for kids tabletop surprises wk 1 teachmama

summer fun for kids tabletop surprises wk 1 teachmama

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fun Summertime Learning for Kids– #tabletopsurprises week 1:

Tuesday:

  Wednesday:

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

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

 

Thursday:

  Friday:

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

A photo posted by amy mascott (@teachmama1) on

 

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

 

summer reading goals & reading logs: quick and easy

summer reading goals & reading logs: quick and easy

summer reading goals & reading logs: quick and easy

 

Woooo-hooooooo! Summer is here! Summer has arrived!

Let the party begin!!

Charge the iPads! Rev up the 3DS! Make sure there’s some juice in that phone because my kids are ready to PLUG. IN, man!

Or at least that’s what they thought.

Summer means unlimited electronic time, right?

Um. Nope and nope.

Here’s the skinny. .  .

Summer Reading Goals & Reading Logs–Quick & Easy:

So yeah. This week, this first week of summer, we’ve had to do a little ‘refreshing’ if you will.

Like everyone needed reminders that:

  • Kids use Screen Time Tickets. The End.
  • Kids do chores. The End.
  • Kids use electronics–all electronics!–on the main living area, not upstairs or downstairs. The End.
  • Kids clean up after themselves. The End.
  • Kids use their own money for the pool snack bar. The End.

summer reading goals & reading logs: quick and easy

 

summer reading goals & reading logs: quick and easy

Yep, just a little bit of a learning curve. But it’s been fine, and I am so happy to have my three favorite people home with me all day, every day. I really am. It’s such a blessing to have three cool kids. I am grateful every single day.

So how does this all tie into Summer Reading Goals and Summer Reading Logs? Right, well Maddy, Owen, and Cora needed some reminders and a bit of a push to complete their Summer Reading Goal Sheet.

I don’t remember us ever creating summer reading goals, but this year we did and for several reasons:

1. I want the kids to be aware of how they spend time and how much they read.

2. I wanted to do something other than straight-up reading logs.

3. I wanted to have a mid-summer check-in of sorts in case we were really trudging along.

We’ll see how it goes.

We began the week on Tuesday with a goal-setting tabletop surprise: 

 

A pretty easy way to start the week, right?

I set out several reading logs and a movie-book match-up sheet to get the kid’s brains moving. They really helped. We talked as the kids filled out their sheets, and then we clipped them to the magnetic board.

Here are the reading logs we have. Choose what works best for your crew!

We were ready to start the summer!

Happy reading!

Have you heard about how we’re keeping our kids’ brains moving, thinking, creating, and having fun all summer long?

Click the image below and find out more:

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

make The Wizarding World of Harry Potter more awesome than you ever imagined

Wizarding World of Harry Potter | universal orlando resort | teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter | universal orlando resort | teachmama.com

Friends.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Have you seen it? Do you plan to?

We visited Orlando this month, and honestly, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was a highlight. THE highlight.

It’s nestled inside Universal Orlando Resort, and it’s an absolute dream come true.  You must see it.

We literally cried happy tears walking into Diagon Alley. Not. Even. Kidding.

I cannot strongly enough recommend a visit to Universal Orlando Resort, and I will even go as far as to say it will exceed all of your expectations.  But there are just a few things–a few secrets to keep in your back pocket–before your trip.

And these [little tricks] will make The Wizarding World of Harry Potter more awesome than you ever imagined.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Make The Wizarding World of Harry Potter More Awesome Than You Ever Imagined

Just a few little tricks, friends. Just a few.

First of all, though, you need to understand a bit about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

from universal orlando: wizarding world of harry potter

(image from Universal Orlando site)

Then, prepare your kids. 

Give them their very own Howwarts acceptance letter like we did:

 

hogwarts acceptace letter | teachmama.com

Before we left, we downloaded, edited, and printed out the Acceptance Letter from Mediafire.  Be careful–there’s a ton of spam over there.

You can download the Word form letter here: Hogwarts Acceptance Letter from Book Template

And here’s our pdf version so you can see how we adjusted: hogwards letter girls

Wizarding World of Harry Potter | universal orlando resort | teachmama.com

 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter | universal orlando resort | teachmama.com

Wizarding World of Harry Potter | universal orlando resort | teachmama.com

We printed the letter out on marbled cardstock.

And then we rolled it into a scroll, tying it with a gold ribbon.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter | universal orlando resort | teachmama.com

make The Wizarding World of Harry Potter more awesome than you ever imagined | teachmama.com

Here’s what you need to know and do to make your experience rock: 

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1. Read the books and watch the movieharry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

I mean. You. Must. Read. The. Book.

And if you can’t finish the whole series, then at least make sure that you read the first book and follow it up with the first movie.

Part of the reason Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I were so excited to see the parks was because we read the books. And we watched the movies. In that order.

I read the first book out loud with Maddy the summer before she went into third grade, and from there she took off on her own.

I read the first book out loud with Owen the summer before he went into second grade, and from there he took off.  He finished book seven this year.

We listened to the first book via audio books on our drive to Pennsylvania this past Easter because I wanted Cora and my husband to read it before we went to the park. And then we watched the movie.

Reading the book and watching the movie brings the park to life and gives you an appreciation for the beauty and details like you wouldn’t believe.

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2. Buy the interactive wands

harry potter wizarding world wand | teachmama.comMake the investment.

The interactive wands are not cheap, but they are so cool it’s not even funny.

harry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

They’re about $50–and I know!–that’s a lot for a park souvenir, but it’s worth it.  My mom and dad gave us money before the trip, especially for wands for the kids, so that helped. Maybe consider having the wand be an early birthday gift or something from relatives if they ask for a suggestion and you know you’re making the trip.

Why the interactive wand? Because with them you can actually make magic happen. Not kidding.  Over 30 spots in the two parks.

harry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

harry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

The wands come with a map of Hogsmeade on one side and Diagon Alley on the other, and it shows all of the places where you can stand and make magic happen. You simply stand on a gold medallion, say the magic word on the map, and move your wand in the direction indicated.

And then? Storefronts come to life, objects appear, water flows, and you’re a witch or wizard making magic.

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3. Plan your visit wiselyharry potter wizarding world plan  | teachmama.com

For our quick stay at Universal Orlando Resort, we had five Park-to-Park Express Unlimited Passes, and we stayed one night at the Cabanna Bay Beach Resort.

Staying at a Universal Orlando Resort property allowed us to get into the parks one hour early (8 am vs 9 am), which was a huge plus.

Not only was the hotel awesome (more on that later, but essentially it is super family-friendly, has fab pools, and is priced very reasonably), but it provided free transportation to the parks early so that we could plan our short stay wisely.

harry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

We suggest, if you have one day to really rock it out at Universal Orlando Resort and Harry Potter is your focus, that you: 

  • take the bus to Universal Orlando Resort to get the Early Park Admission to Islands of Adventure;
  • run like lightening through Islands of Adventure straight to Hogsmeade and right to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey so we didn’t have to wait in super long lines (remember, we did have the Unlimited Express Passes, but those passes are not available on all rides–the Forbidden Journey is one of those!);
  • enjoy the totally incredible Forbidden Journey ride, then. . .
  • zip right on over for a quick ride on the Hogwarts Express so that we could go over to Universal Orlando’s other park–Universal Studios–and ride the other biggie Harry Potter ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (this ride is another that does not take the Unlimited Express Pass!);
  • enjoy the absolutely fantabulous Escape from Gringotts ride, and then. . .
  • buy wands at Ollivanders and have lunch at the Leaky Cauldron;
  • do everything you want at Diagon Alley and then head back to Hogsmeade for the rest of your day.

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4. Send a postcard from the Owlery (but bring stamps!)harry potter wizarding world owlery  | teachmama.com

You can actually send letters from the Owlery and have them postmarked from Hogsmeade. How cool is that?

Someone was there almost all day long stamping envelopes and postcards with a real Hogsmeade postmark, and the Owlery is big enough that you can find a quiet seat to write a quick note there, too.

We decided to wait on the actual sending while there, though, because stamps were pretty expensive. Instead, we asked to have the postcards we bought there postmarked from Hogsmeade, but we would send them once we got home.

Saved us a couple of bucks, which gave us more money for. . .

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5. Try all three butter beers

harry potter wizarding world butterbeer | teachmama.com. . . BUTTERBEER!!

Did you even know there were three types of butterbeer? There are.  And you must try them all.

Hot butterbeer? Check.

Cold butterbeer? Check.

harry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

harry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

Frozen butterbeer? Check.

All are different and all are awesome.

The Universal Orlando executive chef took three years to create the menus for this park. Three years. And he consulted regularly with J.K. Rowling on the recipes, too. When she tasted the butterbeer recipe–one that took 7 months to design–she knew it was the one. And you will, too.

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6. Get the Universal Express Unlimited Passes

harry potter wizarding world unlimited express | teachmama.comUnless you live in Orlando and visit the park regularly, get the Express passes, friends!
With Universal Express℠ Unlimited, you can SKIP THE REGULAR LINES at participating rides and attractions in both theme parks to get the most out of every day. 

Bam.

They had me at ‘skip the regular lines’ if you want me to be totally honest.

I just think that at theme parks, especially if you are pressed for time, you want to get on the rides as quickly as possible. So in my humble opinion, pay the extra.

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7. Talk to the wizards (and witches!)

harry potter wizarding world witches | teachmama.comThere are ‘wizards’ and ‘witches’ (who are really park employees, so don’t get too excited!) kind of wandering around through the park. And they’re there to help you!

Ask them questions. Talk to them. Encourage your kids to do the same because the majority of the wizards and witches are actually from the United Kingdom, so you will feel even more as if you have landed yourself in another country, just by chatting with them.

harry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

And the employees have been tested and retested on their knowledge of the books, too, so they know a lot. A lot.

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8. Eat at the Leaky Cauldron.

harry potter wizarding world eat | teachmama.comYou guys. The LEAKY CAULDRON.

Right. So you must eat there.

The Leaky Cauldron is in Diagon Alley, and The Three Broomsticks and Hogs Head are in Hogsmeade.

Choose one. Just sit, eat, and feel like you’re in one of the books, eating alongside the characters you know and love.

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9. Do it all.harry potter wizarding world do it all | teachmama.com

Do everything.  You will absolutely die because around each corner is something more awesome than the last.

A visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not complete unless you:

harry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

harry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

  • ride the Dragon Challenge and the Flight of the Hippogriff;
  • search for the house elves hiding around each park–one in the rafters of the Three Broomsticks and one in the window of 12 Grimmauld Place;
  • creep through Knockturn Alley (this is a secret, kinda shady back alley in Diagon Alley);
  • get dripped on by the for real leaking cauldron in the Leaky Cauldron sign;
  • ‘cheers’ a pal with a frosty butterbeer glass;
  • drink a bit of Pumpkin Juice and then visit Florean Fortescue’s for some amazing and sinful ice-cream;
  • walk by Dumbledore’s office, peek into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and wish you could hang out in the Gryffindor Common Room;
  • overhear a wizard conversation in the hallway of the Hogwart’s Express.

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10.  Take your time. Sit. Breathe. Watch.harry potter wizarding world time | teachmama.com

Really. At one point, my husband took Maddy, Owen, and Cora back to the Escape from Gringotts for a second ride, and I just stayed behind and sat on the steps nearby.

It may have been one of the most peaceful and memorable times I spent at the park.

harry potter wizarding world | teachmama.com

Yes, the rides are phenomenal. They’re amazing and unforgettable. But the time I spent just sitting–just taking it all in and appreciating that my three little wizards were here with me, enjoying the time of their lives and really bringing a beloved book to life–was worth more than I would have ever imagined.

 

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Want to see all of our photos from our trip? Check them out: 

 

Have you visited Universal Orlando Resort’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter?  Do share your tips, tricks, and ideas for making the trip more awesome for other people!

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of a partnership exchange with Universal Orlando Resort.  As always, all of my opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator and by my three little wizards.  When I say that this theme park was not to be believed, I am not exaggerating. We’re already planning our return trip so that we can explore the rest of what Universal Orlando Resort has to offer. This first trip, however, was all about bringing to life a book that each one of us loves and appreciates.

baseball game scavenger hunt: fun for kids during the game

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

I have a hard time sitting still during sporting events.

I won’t lie.

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

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

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

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

It. Was. So. So. SO FUN.

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

Here’s the skinny. . .

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

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

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

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

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

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

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

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

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

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

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

Bam.

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

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

So that’s what I did.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

I made it two columns with 45 items in each.

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

So kids are searching for 45 things including:

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

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

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

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

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

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

So funny. So, so funny.

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

Love it.

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

baseball game scavenger hunt _ teachmama.com

 

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

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

baseball game scavenger hunt | teachmama.com

 

Think you’ll use it?

Let us know how it goes!

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

Check out:

Or follow our pinterest board full of fun ideas:

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

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary

Summaries are difficult.

Writing summaries, oral summaries–it doesn’t matter.

Both? Difficult.

No matter the student’s age, the act of reading something–anything–and either retelling or summarizing is really, truly tough.

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary

Summarizing is a skill that must be explicitly taught. And it’s a skill that must be modeled.

And it’s a skill that is worth revisiting time and time again, year after year.

This year, Maddy’s been challenged with the weekly task of reading her choice of a news article and summarizing it. I love the assignment. Personally, any repeated effort to improve a student’s reading and writing skills is a win in my book.

However, her summaries were rough at first. Really rough.

So I dusted off my teaching resources, updated a few things, and handed her this: the 1-hand summary.

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Teach Summary Writing–The 1-Hand Summary:

My goal with this was to have it work for anything Maddy chose–a news article, a magazine article, anything. And for the most part, it works.

I started with the very article that Maddy chose for her homework–a piece from The Washington Post about Jennifer Yu, a local chess champion.

Maddy knew she needed some support with her summary writing assignment; she had written summaries for about four weeks, and each time, we worked together on multiple edits.

 

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

 

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

Her summaries were not summaries.

She was including her opinion.

She was missing major details.

She was adding too much detail.

She was not including the ‘stuff’ of summaries.

So I handed her the 1-Hand Summary Sheet.

We looked at the hand and talked about the components of a strong summary:

  • title and author
  • strong topic sentence
  • facts and no opinions
  • conciseness–say everything you need to say in as few words as possible
  • 5 W’s and H are covered (who? what? why? where? when? and how?)

We read the article together.

And then I showed her the sample summary.

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

Kids must see models. They must. There’s no way kids automatically know what a good summary looks like or sounds like.

So reading the one I created helps. We talked about why it works.

We talked about some strategies to use while reading to save time later: highlighting or circling important details or putting a star or a checkmark in the margins. You can even write in the margins if it’s a newspaper article.

We talked about how this summary includes the infamous 5 W’s and H (who? what? why? where? when? and how?) but incorporates them in an easy to understand paragraph.

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

We talked about why the topic sentence is so important.

We talked about how you can grab words and phrases from the title of the article to make your writing easier.

The 1-Hand Summary helps.

I love the format of this 1-hand summary.  Yes, it covers the typical: Someone. . . wanted. .  .but then. .  .finally.

But for a more advanced writer, it includes a topic sentence where students can incorporate the title and author of the piece. I think that’s important. And it will prepare kids for higher level writing down the road.

how to teach summary writing: the 1-hand summary | teachmama.com

The 1-Hand Summary is here to download if you’d like: one hand summary writing _ teachmama.com

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

In order to succeed in school and in life, strong readers need to be able to summarize what they’ve read.

Summarizing is a foundational skill of the Common Core State Standards.  It’s a building block and a necessary component of any comprehensive reading program, and summarizing is an element of every grade, every year:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

But even before the CCSS’s were around, we all know that summarizing is a skill necessary for success just about anywhere.

 

Want a few more resources for summary writing?

 

 

A few more resources on summary writing:

 

fyi: Huge thanks to the following resources for information here: http://www.corestandards.org/ | Literacy Implementation Guidance for the ELA CCSS | The Washington Post article by Tom Jackman

3 reading posts you don’t want to miss

family reading time  scholastic  pinterest

Friends!

Have you even checked out the ole teachmama site lately?

We are all fancied up! Big changes for us–after more than 6 years!

Go see it–for real: teachmama.com.

But don’t get too excited yet. I’m still working out the kinks over here and plan the BIG reveal at the end of the week.

Until then, I want you to check out a few things I’ve been sharing over at Scholastic Parents’ Raise a Reader blog.  Click the photo to read the post!

Change your family’s life in 20 minutes each week:  

family reading time  scholastic  pinterest

The “Family 20″ will change your family’s reading life.

 

 

7 ways to find books your kids will really love: 

find books your kids will love  scholastic  teachmama pinterest

Giving kids books is one thing. Giving kids GREAT books is another.

 

Favorite books of my favorite babies: 

fave babies' fave books  pinterest  scholastic teachmama

Sometimes, the most random books make your kids’ favorite list.

And that’s it for now.  Definitely check out the other posts that Allie and I have written for the awesome Raise a Reader blog. We write there every, single week, so there is a ton of fab facts, ideas, and more for you to check out!

Do you have questions about reading or learning? Hit me with your questions–I’d love to hear them and help you out!

And? This week.

I. Cannot. Wait. to share what else we’ve got up our sleeves.

Iabsolutelycannotwait.

Stay tuned!