celebrate creativity: PBS Kids writers contest for K-3

celebrate creativity: PBS Kids writers contest for K-3

celebrate creativity pbs kids writers contest

One of the greatest ways to get kids invested and interested in writing is to give them authentic reasons to write.

When I was teaching high school, I kept a huge bulletin board in my room where I posted tons of contests that my students could enter. It was awesome–so totally fun–when one of them won or placed.  They were overjoyed.  Their parents were thrilled.

We always celebrated in some way as a class.

So any time I run into a contest that my own kids can enter, I make a rockin  huge deal out of it. 

There’s a great one going on right now, and it’s hosted by our friends at PBS Kids.

While Owen and Maddy are working on homework, Cora’s been working on her entry.

Here’s the skinny. . .

That’s right. It’s a contest open to children in Kindergarten through grade three.

And the prizes are great–perfect for kids–and the contest site is set up brilliantly: it’s easy to navigate, clear, and basic enough for kids and parents.

There are tons of former entries to read, organized by grade level and prize, which I think is awesome for so many reasons.  It’s writing that kids want to read; it demonstrates the types of submissions they receive and what kinds of pieces win.

Cora has pored through the stories for the last few days, reading them one by one on the computer and letting us know when she finds a ‘good one’.  And? Some are pretty awesome.

celebrate creativity: pbs kids writers contest

Very clever. Very creative.

It forces kids to bring their A-game to the contest.

And the cool thing? Kids can create–and save–their stories right on the platform.

Here are the deets:

We’ll see how it goes.  Owen and Cora are interested in entering, and they both have partial drafts completed.  Let’s hope they finish them, feel good about them, submit, and (maybe!?) even get recognized!

Totally worth checking out if you have kids in Kindergarten through third grade!

 

What are your fave spots for finding kid-friendly writing contests? Do tell!

We rely heavily on The Washington Post’s Kids Post, which often shares information on contests for kids.  My kids have entered a ton.   And we’re still waiting for a win.. . . maybe now’s their time!

disney surprise scavenger hunt

disney surprise scavenger hunt

post contains affiliate links

 

 

disney surprise scavenger hunt

 

It’s been busy here for the last few days, with our insane weather and with FutureCity, Toy Fair, and National Center for Families Learning Summit all in the last week.

But somewhere in between all of this excitement, my husband and I surprised our kids with a super-fun, totally awesome Disney Surprise Scavenger Hunt!

That’s right–we’re heading to Disney this spring. And we’re thrilled.

We wanted to tell Maddy, Owen, and Cora in a way that made them work a bit, so we came up with a Scavenger Hunt. Nothing too crazy, but we wanted a hunt got them reading, thinking, and putting their heads (and feet!) together to figure out clues and learn about their trip.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Disney Surprise Scavenger Hunt:

You can use this scavenger hunt whether you’re going to Disney World or Disneyland; it doesn’t matter.

Our goal was to give them an idea that they were going without outright telling them.

Check out our video for a closer look at how it went:


SO funny, right?

They seemed to have a blast!

disney surprise scavenger hunt for kids | teachmama.com

Our Disney Scavenger Hunt can be downloaded here if you want to use it (and modify it) yourself: disney surprise scavenger hunt

Or here it is as a pdf if you like it just the way it is: disney surprise scavenger hunt (pdf)

disney surprise scavenger hunt for kids | teachmama.com

disney surprise scavenger hunt for kids | teachmama.com

Our Disney Scavenger Hunt includes things like:

  • counting pennies for the number of days until our trip;
  • doing jumping jacks and headstands;
  • putting together Mickey sock puzzles;
  • unscrambling Disney-related words: vacation, spring, suitcase, sunshine, and more;
  • watching a Disney video on YouTube.

disney surprise scavenger hunt for kids | teachmama.com

disney surprise scavenger hunt for kids | teachmama.com

We’re really excited.

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

fyi: Huge thanks to the amazing and creative Tiffany Dale of Peanut Blossom for the Disney video inspiration as part of our reveal.  Affiliate links used below.

analog twitter wall to build relationships and digital citizenship

twitter wall in the classroom teachmama.com | analog twitter wall

twitter wall in the classroom  teachmama.comThe following guest post is written by Drew Minock, of Two Guys and Some iPads and the Two Guys podcast.  Drew knows his stuff. Check him out.

I absolutely love this idea for so many reasons.

——————————

  • Analog Twitter Wall to Build Relationships and Digital Citizenship, by Drew Minock

We live in a time where just “1 Click” can ruin someone’s life.

Students in my 4th grade class are very aware of various social media websites, and some even have accounts. Instead of acting like social media does not exist, we need to teach them how to properly use it to keep them safe from others, and most importantly safe from themselves.

It was on May 2nd on this year I decided to create a professional Twitter handle to connect with educators around the world and to share stories from my classroom. It did not take long for me to realize how powerful Twitter can be as a way to connect and learn from others.

During this past summer, I heard about many educators using Twitter in their classroom.

twitter in the classroom | teachmama.com

I loved the idea but did not know how to start, or incorporate it into my classroom.

I decided to go against the digital trend and use an analog Twitter wall to encourage students to express their feelings and thoughts.

On the first day of school, I gave each student a laminated sentence strip. Each sentence strip had a couple of magnets attached to the back to easily attach and remove from our wall. To get started, I went through the “Twitter Basics” to explain the definitions of a tweet, twitter handle, hashtag, and followers.

twitter in the classroom | teachmama.com

Idea from https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2013/06/20/twitter-in-the-classroom/

My students were very excited at the opportunity to tweet.

Each student created a personal Twitter handle. I decided to make tweeting a main segment in our daily morning routine. Each morning the students enter the classroom, they follow the same routine:

1. Place homework or notes for me in a blue bucket

2. Tweet

3. Lunch Count/Attendance

twitter in the classroom | teachmama.com

After lunch count and attendance is finished, we gather for a morning meeting to discuss the days schedule and have the students share their tweets.  Each tweet also allows me to learn about my students’ interest, exciting events outside of school, and daily emotions. This allows me to build a stronger relationship with each student and help them reach their greatest potential.

During the school year, we have discussed appropriate tweets, comments, and the importance of building a positive digital footprint. I also write an analog tweet each morning to help model digital citizenship.

twitter in the classroom | teachmama.com
Creating an analog Twitter wall with my 4th grade class has helped me build positive relationships with each student, address the important topic of digital citizenship, and create an activity to start each day–an activity that makes every student excited about school.

Other educators around our school have seen the excitement tweeting brings each student and have decided to join the fun. It is great to see students sharing their feelings, while learning to be importance of being digital citizens at the same time!

——–

Thank you, thank you Drew for taking the time to share this idea with us! I think it could be used in the classroom, at home, or just about anywhere. Awesome.

Best-Keynote Solo

Drew is a 4th grade teacher in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and Co-Founder of the educational blog Two Guys and Some iPads and the iTunes News and Noteworthy podcast The Two Guys Show. You can find Drew on Twitter @TechMinock.

 

Looking for more information about digital literacy?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards: 

Or these great blog posts:

 

rockstar sunday promo teachmamaThe response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

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!

other posts in the series:

 

how to make homemade slime: snow day sparkle slime

sparkle slime SNOW DAY teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 


sparkle slime SNOW DAY  teachmama.com

It’s been snowing a whole lot over here for the last few weeks, and in fact, this week, about 15 inches of the white stuff were dumped on us.

So this mama has had to pull out the stops when it comes to finding things to do.

Homemade slime–snow day sparkle slime–has helped save our sanity.

Not really. But kind of.

We’ve spent a boatload of time outside. We’ve watched movies. Read books. Completed puzzles. Cleaned, finished homework, Valentines, and cooked.

There’s been a lot of downtime. A lot of ‘plugged in’ time. A lot of great, blissful getting along times, and a lot of bickering.

And we tried, for the first time, to make sparkle slime.

The kids loved it.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Make Homemade Slime–Snow Day Sparkle Slime:  It’s super easy.

And there are about a million different ways to do this–be forewarned.

My way is just one.

Here’s a super-quick video about how you can make sparkle slime (our snow day sanity saver!): 

 

And now you definitely need the Sparkle Slime recipe, right? Yes, yes you do.

Check it out:sparkle slime recipe.

You’ll need:

Once you have everything, you can get started!

how to make sparkle slime | owen

 homemade sparkle slime

 

homemade sparkle slime

SO fun.

Do you have any cool ideas for passing days when you’re stuck inside? Activities to keep kids interested, engaged, and unplugged? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Check out our cool and creative indoor fun board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board cool & creative indoor fun on Pinterest.


Or check out these popular posts:

 

fyi: affiliate links are used below 

 

I by NO MEANS invented this cool activity; in fact, I’d love to offer huge and happy thanks to the following posts for inspiration. Please check them out! thank you, ladies!

money poems, money songs: fun ways to teach kids about money

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originally published on 5.14.10

post contains affiliate links

 

 

money poems, money poems  teachmama.com

Maddy’s been learning about money in school. Pennies, nickels, dimes–and she’s been talking 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s like nobody’s business.

Add her big half-dollars from her Pap and the ever-busy Tooth Fairy, and Maddy’s money jars are growing along her knowledge of coins and money.

So today, while she was home from school with a pinkish eye (which didn’t even turn out to be pink eye–woo-hoo!), we poemed it up a bit. And sang a little. And some of it’s even on video.

  • Money Poems, Money Songs: Many thanks to Maddy’s awesome kindergarten team of teachers who sent her home with several of these money-poems a few weeks back.

Along with a few that I added myself, we sang money songs and read money poems between baking, playing, gardening, and (of course) tending to that somewhat sore, slightly pink eye.

I printed out the money poems, money songs sheet which you may certainly download. I didn’t even use cardstock this time, although I always think that’s helpful.

money poems, money poems  teachmama.comtwo of the poems: I Have a Shiny Penny & Ten Pennies
money poems, money poems  teachmama.com

Maddy cut out the piggy bank and coins, and I cut the opening for her. Unlike her excitement over decorating the Cookie Jar Poem pieces, she wasn’t too keen on beautifying her piggy bank. She was more into preparing to ham it up for the video camera, which I brought out after she read the poems a few times to Owen, Cora, and me.

Because Maddy had read some of these poems several times already, I brought out the video camera so she could watch herself do the reading. She was pumped–ready to roll–and once the camera started recording, she got funny and nervous. We watched her read two poems, and then she said it was enough.

money poems, money poems teachmama.com

Maybe she really felt uncomfortable with how she looked or sounded; I’m not sure. Maybe it was because Cora and Owen lost interest and started making flowers and sippy cups (don’t ask) out of Tinker Toys.

Either way, I didn’t push it. I was happy to have her home, happy to have her excited about reading the poems, and happy that she was looking forward to playing with her brother and sister. (From a distance, of course, for fear of them catching her pinkish-eye.)

money poems, money poems teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of these Money Poems, Money Songs I love, and some are just well, not my favorites. I’m not a fan of slant rhyme (thin/ten; coin/find), and I did take some liberties with changing punctuation or wording here and there. Be forewarned, and my apologies to the real poets, wherever they may be.

But I am a huge fan of the big re-read as an attempt to increase emerging readers’ confidence, familiarity with a text, and overall fluency. With shorter pieces, like poems and leveled texts, re-reading is especially easy and incredibly worthwhile.

It’s no secret that the best approach to supporting our emerging readers is providing them with a balanced reading program–one that promotes phonological awareness, fluency, phonics, reading comprehension strategies, and writing development on a daily basis (NICHD 2000).

Fluency is an incredibly easy element to work on at home, with our little learners, and there’s tons of cool ways of doing so. Whether it’s with a video recording, an echo read, a choral read, or reading into the ole mic, re-reading texts is important. Fluency can be increased through repeated oral reading with feedback and guidance (NICHD 2000); it’s just a matter of coming up with interesting ways of convincing our kiddos to pick up that book again. And again. And again. And then maybe one more time.

I know it’s something that I have been working on with Maddy for the last few months, and it’s something I’ll make more of an effort to share in future posts. Thanks for reading!

thanks for the inspiration:
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching Children to Read: Reports of the Subgroups. (NIH Publication No. 00–4754. Washington, DC. US Government Printing Office.

Pressley, M., Gaskins, I.W., & Fingeret, L. (2006). Instruction and Development of Reading Fluency in Struggling Readers. In S. Samuels, & A.E. Farstrup (Eds.), What Research Has to Say About Fluency Instruction (pp. 47-69). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

 

Want a few more posts about money, money, money money!?

black history month: resources for kids and families

black history month: resources for kids and families | printables, videos, books, & more from teachmama.com #weteach

post contains affiliate links

 

 

black history month resources for famillies

We often talk about race in our home, but lately my kids have become more and more curious about the struggles that many so many groups have faced–African-Americans in particular–throughout our history.

Yes, we have great books here, rich with information and ideas and stories, but I wanted a little more. We need a little more.

So rather than fumble through their questions about race, history, and segregation, I wanted to give Maddy, Owen, and Cora some clarity–as much of the whole story as I could.  

I want to be able to continue the conversation not only this month, Black History Month, but any time throughout the year.  So with the help of many great friends, I’ve assembled this list of Black History Month Resources for Families.

Above all, I wanted to recognize and respect the miles these Americans have walked, but I also wanted to celebrate their many successes.  The resources below seem to do just that.

I consider it a work in progress!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Black History Month– Resources for Families:

It’s amazing the resources I managed to find–but it took some serious work–which is a problem in itself.

talking and reading about civil rights

books:

picture books for kids mlk

articles, sites:

must read books mlk

videos:

 


activities

 

What are your favorite resources? Do share them with us! 

 

huge and happy thanks to the amazing women who helped me assemble this list: Eva of SocaMom.com,  Monica Waugh-Benton, Erica of What We Do All Day, Deb of Living Montessori Now, Carly of Africa to America, Leanna of All Done Monkey, and more.  

fyi: affiliate links are used below:

 

early literacy game for kids: read a word, build a snowman

early literacy game for kids: read a word, build a snowman

read a word, build a snowman | teachmama.com

originally published December 20, 2009 

We have had a ton of snow dropped on us in the last two days; clearly, my kiddos have snow on the brain.

So I knew that if I wanted to sneak in a little bit of early literacy learning over here while we were stuck in the house, I had to capitalize on their current love interest: snow!

Sure, we’ve been reading, coloring, and playing with Legos (and don’t get me wrong–along with our fair share of teasing, arguing, and crying), but those sight words are just so darn easy to stick into games that I found inspiration in one of my old faves and turned it into a snowy day read a word, build a snowman face.

An early literacy game for kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Build a Snowman Game: This is so easy.

First, I used cardstock and printed out two copies of the read a word, build a snowman face, which includes a snowman’s face and five parts–two coal eyes, a carrot nose, a coal mouth, and a hat.

You can download it here: read a word, build a snowman face.

Then I printed two copies of thebecause Maddy seemed ready, and I knew I was going to be on Owen’s ‘team’ while we played today.

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

Owen’s five word cards

Finally, I grabbed Maddy and Owen and asked if they wanted to build an inside snowman before their rest times today. Of course, they looked at me like I was crazy, but then they finally said, “YES!!”

I said, We’re going to play a new game today to celebrate the snow, and it’s called ‘Build a Snowman Game‘. We’ll use some of Maddy’s word cards, and all you need to know is that the game is kind of like ‘Go Fish’. Remember that game?

I need you to put all of these tiny word cards face down in a pile. Then Maddy, you’ll take your snowman face, and Owen you take our snowman face, and we’ll get started.

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

 

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.comOwen had two word pairs, so he earned two snowman parts:
a nose and mouth.

Essentially, the object is to be the first player to complete her snowman face. But in order to put an eye, or a nose, a mouth, or a hat on your snowman, you need to find matching word pairs.

Each player begins with five word cards and should have at least five cards at all times.

We put our word cards on green paper plates because, for some reason, we had two green plates were in our living room. We also kept our word cards face up because we wanted to help each other out a bit.

 

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

Players put down any pairs they pick, and they can add a piece to the snowman when they find a pair. Then, like Go Fish, player one asks player two if she has a word from his hand, and if she does, she gives it to him; if not, player one grabs a card from the pile.

When one person completes a snowman face, then she’s the winner–as long as she can read each of her five word pairs!

We made sure to read the words as we went along, and I also used brown M & M’s as the snowman’s eyes. (Seriously, why not? They look like eyes, and after the cookies and candy my kids have been putting away, what’s two more M & M’s except more holiday game fun?)

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.comYa-hoo! Owen and I completed our face!

They liked it. They really seemed to enjoy the game, and they were excited-giddy even before they ate their chocolate. Kids like to create faces, and this was simple enough that they could manage the word reading and face building and not be overwhelmed.

I think that tomorrow we’ll do it with the Early Emergent Words or the Letter Cards. Or maybe both. And I’m seeing more ‘Face Building-Scene Creating’ Games in our long, cold, snowy-winter future. . .

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

The cool thing about this game is that I can use it for any level–letters if one of my kiddos needs work on letter recognition or any level of sight words that I need. Feel free to do the same.

And I’m jumping for joy! I just re-saved all of the files as pdf’s and will be saving that way from here on out; maybe that will be easier for my friends to open and use the files at home. Let me know what you think. Happy Snowman Building!

using iPad apps to create

using the ipad to create teachmama.com

The following guest post is written by the amazing and incredible Susan Stephenson, of The Book Chook. Susan is my Australian friend who has tons of fab ideas on children’s literacy, learning, and more.

——————————

using the ipad to create | teachmama.com

  • Using iPad Apps to Create, by Susan Stephenson

I love what the iPad offers young learners.

I’m especially excited about opportunities it gives to create their own content, whether that be in the form of text, images, video and other media, or combinations of these.

Creative thinking is incredibly important to children’s future learning, and finding opportunities for kids to create rather than consume via technology is fantastic.

Even pre-schoolers can create on the iPad, and an iPad Mini is kinder to little hands. The camera is a built-in tool that little ones love exploring with. Not only that, but parents enjoy viewing a child’s perspective on life!

Beginning writers can learn to send a picture to Grandma from the camera roll with some words that explain it. Grandma will love the contact and I just bet she’ll enjoy those invented spellings.

One app I discovered recently, ABC Spy HD by Stealth Education,  invites kids to use the iPad camera within the app. They find objects starting with each letter of the alphabet to photograph, then type the object’s name. To share with others, they make a little video within the app.

Other interesting apps where young children can use the camera are Eye Paint Monsters and Eye Paint Animals by Curious Hat.

Note: I am a firm advocate for limiting screen time for children. But I believe SOME screen time plus lots of time for stories, cuddles, chats, imaginative play and outdoor fun, makes for a balanced parenting approach.

When it’s time for screen play, think about the following apps for your preschooler or young learners:

  • Draw Along with Stella and Sam:  Based on the picture books by Marie-Louise Gay, in this app children choose shapes, decorate them and watch them come to life in very cute animation.
  • Little Fox Music Box: As well as delightful animated songs that kids can interact with and listen to, Little Fox Music Box encourages kids to record themselves singing and making music.
  • Night Zookeeper Drawing TorchThe Night Zookeeper Drawing Torch’s emphasis is on story. It encourages kids to imagine and draw creatures like spying giraffes, time-travelling elephants and singing fish.

 

UsingiPadAppstoCreate

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of apps that older kids can use. As with pre-schoolers, having them use the camera helps them to “look” at their environment from a new perspective, and become more aware of art elements like colour, pattern, texture and line.

Here are some other apps I like that I believe encourage children to create.

  • Strip Designer: Children often need to present information visually, especially if they need to show they understand something, or to explain it. Strip Designer is also a neat app for kids to use when they want to tell a digital story.
  • Moku Hanga: Image editors offer kids exciting opportunities to tweak photos they take. Moku Hanga has a “wood-block” look and it’s simple enough for older primary students to experiment with. It would make a great accompaniment for when kids try writing their own haiku.
  • Pic CollageMore than just a photography app, Pic Collage is a way for children to create a digital story. They could record a family outing, tell the tale of a lost tooth, or capture and caption their friends’ scariest Halloween costumes.
  • The Daily Monster Monster Maker: Here kids will find loads of opportunities to create by “blowing” paint, then customizing a monster and taking its pic, in-app. Incorporate literacy into the fun by encouraging kids to add speech bubbles and have their monsters “talk”. The pictures produced can be added to an app like Pic Collage, or Strip Designer (mentioned above) to tell a story.

Combining apps is a wonderful way for children to get even more from the iPad. The emphasis here is on kids thinking creatively, using apps and iPad as tools to express themselves.

By starting in one app, then continuing in another, children learn how to develop a work flow that suits their needs. The iPad is such a powerful tool for creation, offering kids many opportunities to create, communicate – and above all, have fun with it!

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing these super iPad app ideas, Susan!! We love them!

SusanStephensonsmlCheck out The Book Chook blog  for educational tips and resources for parents, teachers and librarians. Find lots of free PDFs via www.susanstephenson.com, and follow Susan on Twitter,  Facebook,  Scholastic Parents,Google+ and ScoopIt.

 

 

 

Looking for more information about children’s learning?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards: 

 

rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

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!

other posts in the series:

musical hearts: reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game  teachmama.comThe snow and freezing cold temps has cause my three kids to be on energy overload lately.

They need to burn steam.

They need to run, jump, skip, hop, spin, and then do it all again.

They need to loosen up, wiggle out those wiggles, laugh hard, and be super silly.

So when I was looking for some cool indoor games for us to play in the down time between school and homework, I stumbled upon my dear friend Allie’s Musical Hearts game.  And like everything she does, it’s awesome.

When the girls and I were at the craft store this week, you better believe I added big foam hearts to our cart so that I could make Musical Hearts work for us and hold up for more than one game.

And it sure did.

I turned Musical Hearts into a reading game, a moving game, and a crazy-fun after school, burn-some-serious-steam game.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Musical Hearts– Reading, Moving, and Crazy-Fun Kid Game:

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

musical hearts | reading, moving, crazy fun game for kids - 03
I wrote my actions on the fly, thinking about what I both wanted my kids to read and what I wanted them to do. I wanted simple but fun. And I wanted Cora, Owen, and Maddy to be able to play.

My list of Musical Hearts Actions is here for you to check out, print, and use as inspiration: valentine musical hearts game.

It includes 30+ ideas, like:

  • Hula dance.
  • Do 5 jumping jacks.
  • Spin on one foot five times then spin on the other.
  • Do 5 pushups.
  • Hop on one foot 10 times.
  • Hug the person on your right.
  • Plank for 10 seconds.
  • Jump as high as you can—8 times.

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

 

It took virtually no persuading for the kids to try out this game.

I said, Hey, you guys, after your snack I’d like for you to try out something that I found online that I think will be a lot of fun. I know you haven’t had recess outside lately, so this will get us up and moving.  Who’s game?

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.comMaddy’s nose was buried in a book, so she sat this one out–for a bit.Literally Cora and Owen dropped their snacks, jumped down from their stools at the snack bar, and found me in the kitchen.

Okay, so here’s the deal: We flip these hearts upside down and put them in a huge circle.

And then I blast some Frozen soundtrack and we play just like Musical Chairs–except this is called Musical Hearts. And there are no chairs. Instead, there are hearts with little messages underneath. When the music stops, you flip your heart and do what’s on the other side. Get it?

They did.

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

 

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

We played and played and played.

And laughed and laughed and laughed.

Music on, kids walking on the hearts. Music off. Hearts flipped. Kids jumping, planking, spinning, and singing. Music on. Kids up. . . 

Maddy even ditched the book and joined us, and before I knew it, they were all overheated and burning some much-needed energy.

It got hilarious. And surprisingly, they didn’t want to stop.

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game  teachmama.com

But after the millionth time, when I looked at the clock and realized that OHMYGOSH! we needed to do homework–ack! homework!–before we took Maddy to gymnastics, we had to wrap up the game.

But I’m betting they’ll ask to play tomorrow. . .

 

And really, that was that.

Just a really fun, super-cool way to get kids up, reading, and moving–and laughing!–on a freezing cold, grey winter afternoon.

Love this idea and cannot thank Allie enough for sharing.  The possibilities for adapting Musical Hearts are endless:

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

reading informational text and crafting: easy, beautiful jewelry-making

reading informational text and crafting | teachmama.com

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reading informational text and crafting | teachmama.com

One of the things that my kids love to do is crafts, so when Melissa & Doug came out with the Art Activity books, I was sold.

Combining reading and crafting? Bam.

A match made in heaven.

Sure, good ole free play and open-ended art is awesome, but some days, an Art Activity book is a super way of sneaking in some reading for kids. And the ‘art’ of reading informational text to follow directions and to use drawings and diagrams to support the reading are foundational skills in nearly every grade level of the Common Core State Standards.

Reading informational texts is something covered in some way almost every year in the English Language Arts Standards. As parents, let’s do what we can to support our kids’ learning from home.

It’s a win-win-WIN.

Maddy rocked out the informational text reading this week with the help of Melissa & Doug’s Craft and Create Mixed Metal Jewelry set. And she’s loving her new jewels.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Reading Informational Text and Crafting– Easy, Beautiful Jewelry-Making:

I knew that Maddy would love this Mixed Metal Jewelry Set, because right now she’s totally into accessories and jewelry.  And she’s also into doing things independently.

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

And she really did love it.

She took off from the start, opening the set and reading and following the directions.  She began by setting out all of the pieces. And then she started with the Layered Earrings.

We chatted along the way, checking out a few different design options and deciding on the silver-bronze-silver graduated layered discs. Love it!

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

 

She made these adorable earrings!  Aren’t they to die for?

Next she moved onto the braided bracelet.

As she read, she used the photographs and diagrams to help her more clearly understand the steps.

 

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

Especially when it came to the four-strand braid, she used both the diagram and text. I held one side of the bracelet as she braided, and I totally learned something new!

I have never in my life braided with four strands, but Maddy figured it out and explained it to me as she went. Super real-life application of an important reading skill–and Common Core State Standard.

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

Her bracelet turned out so awesome.

And not only did we learn how to do the four-strand braid, but we also learned some cool, new ways of tying off bracelets, combining strands, and connecting the mixed-metal washers and rings.

So fun.

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

reading informational text and crafting: jewelry-making | teachmama.com

I really think this is only the beginning.

Maddy so loved jewelry-making that we’re heading to the craft store for some mixed metal pieces this weekend.  Though the set comes with plenty of pieces, Maddy was busy and included a handful of pieces in each one she made.

It will be so awesome to see her apply her new skills to the other pieces we purchase at the store.  She felt great about what she made and looks forward to making more. Love. It.

In my opinion, there’s nothing better than this! It’s real-life and purposeful informative text reading at its finest!

melissa doug blog ambassador buttonfyi: I wrote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.   Melissa & Doug has long created rockstar products that nurture creativity and thought in our children, which is why I am so proud to be a part of this program.

As always, my opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.

10 must-read multicultural children’s books

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10 must-read multicultural children's books | recommendations for younger and older readers @teachmama

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and we are celebrating diversity in children’s literature!

Woo-hoo!  You better believe I’m all for it.

Our kids must read a wide variety of books, books that feature characters of all shapes and sizes. They need to read about different families, foods, and cultures.  Different holidays, customs, and crafts.  Different experiences, events, and celebrations.

It’s imperative that our books reflect the world around us, and, in my opinion, there’s no better way to open up the doors of conversation and learning rather than with books.

And though there are a million, trillion books out there, today you’ll be able to add some great, new titles to your list for your next library trip, thanks to my list here and the many other bloggers who are writing about their favorite multicultural children’s books today.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 10 Must-Read Multicultural Children’s Books: I’ll be honest. I’m kind of cheating here.

Narrowing this list down was pretty tricky for me, since I have a boatload of favorite multicultural children’s books.

But what I also realized is that because my own kiddos (10, 8, and 6 years old) are slowly moving over to that YA (young adult) bookshelf, my picks are a bit of both.

I couldn’t help it.

My top five must-read multicultural children’s books are:

  • Cora Cooks Pancit, by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore  | Little Cora learns the art of cooking pancit with the help of her mama on a rare day when her brother and sisters are out of the house.
  • The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, by Tomie de Paola  |  I love Tomie de Paola’s take on this Indian legend about how a young boy, the artist of his tribe, creates a painting to fulfill his Dream-Vision.
  • So Far from the Sea, by Even Bunting  |  The Iwasaki family visits Manzanar, where Japanese were interned during WWII, and little Laura says goodbye to her Grandfather in a touching and memorable way.
  • The Legend of the Bluebonnet, by Tomie de Paola  |  The story of a courageous Comanche girl and how she parts with her most prized possession in order to help her people is moving and unforgettable.
  • Mama’s Saris, by Pooja Makhijani  |  I have always loved the grace and beauty of not only the sari but the story of how important it is for a little girl to wear a sari like her mother.
  • I also love, love, love the A Child’s Day series–a day in the life of a child in some part of the word.   It’s a photo journal, a glimpse into what life is like for children all around the world. Love these.

diversity quote maya angelou |  teachmama.com @teachmama

For slightly older kids, I love these multicultural books for young adult (ya) readers:

  • The Recipe for Adventure series, by Giada DeLaurentiis  | (ages 7-12)  Adventure, cooking, and a whole lot of Italian family is the focus of this series which follows Alfie and his sister Emilia all over the world as they solve mysteries and sample food along the way.
  • Aloha, Kanani, by Lisa Yee  |  (ages 8+)  Kanani’s Hawaiian life is totally foreign to her New York City cousin, Rachel, but the girls have a whole summer to learn from each other and embrace their differences.
  • Children of the River, by Linda Crew  | (ages 9+) Sundara and her family move to Oregon to escape the Khmer Rouge army, and Sundara struggles with balancing her Cambodian identity with the new American lifestyle.
  • The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros  |  (ages 13+)  Beautiful and poetic, this coming of age story tells Esperanza’s experiences growing up in the inner city.
  • The Contender, by Robert Lipsyte  |  (ages 13+ ) Alfred works hard to stay out of trouble, but he finds out that a winner isn’t always the guy who comes out on top.

It’s really just a start. I have a ton more to recommend, but I do want you to check out other folks’ recommendations as well!

Want to know a bit more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day? Sure you do.

blogger buttonMission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries.

Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

The event’s sponsors are Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books Chronicle Books, and Susan Daniel Fayad: Author of  My Grandfather’s Masbaha.

Do check out the other great bloggers who are participating in the Multicultural Children’s Book Day event:  

2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag  · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica ·  Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac · Children’s Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gathering Books · GEO Librarian · Gladys Barbieri · Going in Circles · Growing Book by Book · iGame Mom · I’m Not The Nanny · InCulture Parent · Itsy Bitsy Mom ·Just Children’s Books– Kid World Citizen · Kristi’s Book Nook · Mama Lady Books · Mama Smiles · Mission Read · Mother Daughter Book Reviews · Mrs AOk · MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter · Ms. Yingling Reads · Multicultural Kids Blog · One Sweet World · Open Wide The World · P is for Preschooler · Rapenzel Dreams · School4Boys · Sharon the Librarian · Spanish Playground · Sprout’s Bookshelf · Squishable Baby · Stanley and Katrina · Teach Mama · The Art of Home Education · The Brain Lair · The Educators’ Spin On It · The Family-Ship Experience · The Yellow Door Paperie · This Kid Reviews Books  · Trishap’s Books · Unconventional Librarian · Vicki Arnold · We3Three · World for Learning · Wrapped in Foil 

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post