3 cool kids, 3 cool books: what we’re reading now

3 cool kids 3 cool books | what we are reading now

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3 cool kids 3 cool books | what we are reading

It’s hard to find books that work for your kids.

I totally get it.

So every so often, I’m going to share 3 cool kids, 3 cool books: what we’re reading now.  It’s a quick look at the books that my kids, Maddy (age 9), Owen (age 8), and Cora (age 6) are digging.

It’ll be a vlog, because they’re quicker for me.

And you’ll get the insider’s scoop–why my kids like the book or series and why I like the book or series.  As an avid reader, a former high school English teacher, a Master’s Degree in Reading, you better believe I have some ideas.

Above all, though, I am a normal parent who really just wants my kids to enjoy reading.

So here’s the skinny. . .

  • 3 Cool Kids, 3 Cool Books– What We’re Reading:

Check out the video for the details:

 


 

 

 

But if you just want the quick and dirty link to the book, here you are:

 

What do you think? Are these faves in your house?  Any recommendations you think we should check out?

Let me know!

 

fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post, which means nothing other than if you use the link provided, teachmama.com gets a teeny, tiny percentage of your sale. Bam.

top 2 insider secrets for motivating your kids to read

top 2 ways to motivate kids to read

Every parent hopes that their kids grow up to be readers, right?motivate kids to read

Sure above all, we hope our kids grow to be happy, law-abiding, well-adjusted human beings, but beyond that, wouldn’t it be nice if our kids were readers, too?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if our kids not only knew how to read, but they also really enjoyed reading, choose to read for pleasure, and loved talking to us about the books they’ve read?

Right. It’d be so awesome.

But it doesn’t have to be that far-off of a dream.

There are some things we can do at home–things that don’t cost a million dollars and don’t require all that much effort on our parts. Perhaps a deliberate decision to change, but it’s totally manageable.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Top 2 Insider Secrets for Motivating Your Kids to Read: Having just finished a graduate course called Motivating Students to Read, this information is truly backed by a boatload of research.

It’s not rocket science.

It may not be surprising.

And you may not want to hear it.

But here it is:

 

What do you think?

Ready to take the plunge and really make a difference in your child’s reading?

Let me know–would this work for your child? Have you tried it?

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (with free printable early reader books!)

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers

The following guest post is written by the incredibly talented (and busy!) Anna of The Measured Mom.  Anna is a former classroom teacher, currently a mom of four littles who will be joined by a fifth this winter!  Please check out her rockin blog.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers

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I’m thrilled to be guest posting here at Teach Mama! As a former first and second grade teacher and now mother to four little ones, I love teaching children how to read.

Today I’d like to share my tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers. You’ll also find some free printable emergent readers and links to even more!

  • Tips and Tricks for Teaching Emergent Readers (with Free Printable Early Reader Books!):

 

So first of all… what’s an emergent reader?

The term emergent reader can mean two things. It can mean the actual reader himself, or it can mean little books that beginning readers use when they’re just beginning to match voice to print. Let’s talk about the children themselves.

Emergent readers are beginning readers who…

  • know their alphabet and at least some letter sounds;
  • know the difference between a letter and a word;
  • have an basic sense of story (beginning, middle, end);
  • are beginning to match spoken words with print;
  • may recognize words in some contexts and not in others.

What behaviors do emergent readers exhibit?

  • They may use their finger to point to words as they read.
  • They read slowly (word by word).
  • They use the picture clues as they read.
  • They are learning to use beginning sounds to help solve harder words.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (4) - the measured mom on teach mama

 

What kinds of books are best for emergent readers?

The best kind of books for emergent readers are little books with the same name: emergent readers. I’m not talking about phonics readers which can be laborious and painful for brand new readers who are probably not sounding out words with consistency.

I’m talking about little books that meet the following criteria:

  • They have strong picture support.
  • They use repetition, rhyme, or rhythm.
  • They have controlled, repeated vocabulary.
  • They use natural language.
  • Their text is large and clear with only 1-2 sentences per page.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (2) - the measured mom on teach mama

How do we best teach emergent readers?

First of all, we get them books that they can read. Unfortunately, true emergent readers (the books) are extremely hard to find. You are unlikely to find them in your local library and can spend a small fortune purchasing them from the big education companies. Thankfully, you can find free or affordable emergent readers by doing a little hunting. Here are some of my favorite resources:

Reading A-Z.com ($90 for a year’s subscription and unlimited downloads)
Ohio State Keep Books (Books are only about 25 cents each – ask about Kid’s Sets if you want single copies instead of classroom sets)
This Reading Mama’s Reading the Alphabet curriculum
Free Emergent Reader Set  from The Measured Mom

That’s right – the last collection is from me! I’ve been creating four themed readers (such as animals, community helpers, and fairy tales) for each new sight word – starting simple (sight word a) and adding on as we go. You can access my growing collection by clicking on the image below:

free-emergent-reader-collection-the-measured-mom

And today I’m sharing a set of free emergent readers for you to use with your children at the very beginning of this stage! Get them here: Free Emergent Reader Set

To assemble these little books:

  • 1) Print pages 2-9 front to back (Page 1 is my Terms of Use).
  • 2) Be patient for the download and your printer – it may take a few minutes.
  • 3) Cut each page across the horizontal center.
  • 4) Insert the inner page of each book and staple with a long-armed stapler.

free books for emergent readers

How do we support emergent readers as they read?

1) We give helpful prompts.

  • Use the picture to help you.
  • Does the first letter of that word match what you said?
  • Did that sound right?
  • Get your mouth ready to say that word.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (3) - the measured mom on teach mama

2) We celebrate what they do well.

  • That didn’t make sense and you went back and fixed it – good for you!
  • That was a funny page and you laughed! I can tell you’re really thinking about what you’re reading.
  • You didn’t know that word, but you used the picture to help you figure it out. That’s great!

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (1) - the measured mom on teach mama

3) We encourage them to grow as they move beyond emergent reading and into early reading.

  • Are you stuck? Try the first chunk of that word.
  • Look all the way through to the end of the word.
  • Sometimes if you’re stuck it helps to start back at the beginning of the sentence.
  • That sentence ends with an exclamation point. Show me how it sounds when you read that.

By reaching our emergent readers where they’re at and providing them with reading materials they love, we guide them on the path to a lifelong love of reading!

ANNA pic for blog!

Anna taught for eight years and received her MEd in Curriculum & Instruction before beginning her career as a stay-at-home mom. She loves to learn and grow with her daughter (age 6) and three little boys (5,3,1) – plus another blessing due in January! Anna shares free education resources for parents and teachers at The Measured Mom. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Anna,  for sharing!

Looking for more activities for ringing in Halloween (and sneaking in a little learning) with your littles?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

5 great reasons to read words OUT of context

5 Great Reasons to Read Words OUT of Context by This Reading Mama

5 Great Reasons to Read Words OUT of Context

The following guest post is written by Becky Spence of This Reading Mama. Becky is a busy homeschooling mama of four littles, and she constantly shares super content on her site.  I’m always in awe of her.  Do take a peek!

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  • 5 Great Reasons to Eead Words OUT of Context:

It is important to “marinate” young children in books. You may have even seen the poster that lists the top 10 ways to help kids become better readers ~Read, Read, Read… But as important as it is to read words in context (within the text), it is also a good idea to pull words out of their context and ask readers to study them. This is especially true for young readers and struggling readers.

Here are five great reasons to read words out of context:

1. The Reader Relies too Heavily on Context

Have you ever noticed your reader using the picture or the context of the sentence to figure out unknown words?

This strategy is a normal part of literacy development (and is encouraged when kids are young), but it can develop into a problem if those young kids grow into older kids who are not equipped with proper strategies to decode unknown words. In this way, relying too heavily on context negatively impacts fluency and comprehension.

2. Focusing on Word Patterns

Teaching phonics by patterns is my absolute favorite way to teach phonics. I love to use words sorts because they are hands-on, developmentally appropriate, explicit, and flexible. To prepare a word sort, words are pulled out of context and studied by the pattern that they share (for example: rain, braid, train, and maid all share the AI pattern). Other word patterns, such as AY, are compared to the first pattern. This way of teaching phonics is so effective because it equips readers of all ages to look for patterns as they read (a.k.a. reading by analogy), the strategy proficient readers use.

3. The Reader has Memorized the Book

Sometimes, our children pick up books and “read” them to us. We begin to wonder, “Does she really know the words or has she just memorized the book?” This is especially true of early reader books with predictable text. Pulling the words out of context helps readers slow down and really focus on the words. One of my favorite activities to help young readers do this is writing down the words from a few sentences in the book (or the entire book, if it’s shorter), cutting them apart, and asking your young reader to re-build the sentences.

rebuilding sentences from an early reader

 

My son (at age 4), an early reader, loves doing this on our pocket chart. We rebuild sentences from texts quite a bit. He even likes to make a game out of it! (If you have an early reader, my Reading the Alphabet curriculum has this activity built into every lesson.)

4. Building Fluency

When readers recognize words by sight (within one second of seeing the word), they are more fluent readers. When readers are more fluent, their minds are freed up to focus on the meaning of the text–the purpose of reading. It’s a chain reaction. Am I saying that we should teach all words by sight? Absolutely not! (refer to reason #2). But some words are better learned by sight, especially those common words that kids see all the time in reading, such as the, of, have, etc. Teaching words by sight words does not need to be boring or even include flash cards. It can be fun and interactive! When you can make it multi-sensory, all the better!

5. Supporting Readers Before and After They Read

Sometimes, certain words need to be pulled out of context and introduced before reading. This is especially true of:

1-longer words that the reader would not know or have the strategies yet to figure out on his own or

2- words that, while the reader can figure them out, he does not understand the meaning.

To do this, I glance through the book ahead of time and jot down about three to four words that jump out at me as being difficult words. I jot them down on a dry erase board or piece of paper. Before my second grade son reads the book, I display and read those words to him. We discuss the meaning of the words and/or the features of the word.

Words can also be pulled from the context of the book after reading. For example, if your child continuously read a word incorrectly (without changing the meaning of the text), jot that word down. After your child finishes reading, display the word from the text and the word he said instead side-by-side and talk about each word. For example, if your child read steps instead of stairs, talk about what a good mistake he made because these two words share the common feature of st. But be sure to go a little further in the word. Explore how the middle and ends of those words are different. Doing this helps readers slow down and focus on the patterns within words.

 

While there are some great reasons to read words out of context, please hear me shout it from the rooftop that kids need to be taking what they learn out of context AND applying it to real reading and real writing (in context)!

The ultimate goal of reading and writing words out of context is to help readers comprehend and create texts in context. That sounds like a great goal to me!

 

HeadshotNew-150

Becky Spence a homeschooling mama of 4 little blessings. She is the author of This Reading Mama, where she shares reading and writing activities as well as free literacy curricula and printables. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

 

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Becky,  for sharing your reading expertise with us!

 

Looking for more activities for building strong reading skills in your children?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

Or check out the following early literacy blog posts:

recipe reading (and cookie-eating)

recipe reading (and cookie eating) | iced pumpkin spice cookies

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iced pumpkin spice cookies cooking with kids

 

 

This post was originally published on December 12, 2009, but as I searched for our Iced Pumpkin Spice Cookie recipe, I found this oldie but goodie and realized that many would appreciate this fun, fall favorite.  Enjoy!

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Today was our holiday cookie-baking day. We baked a million cookies, and we’re still not finished.

As Maddy’s becoming a stronger reader, she has really enjoyed trying her hand at handling the recipe-reading herself. And with this recipe, I formatted the ‘Directions’ differently than I had before, with our muffin-making or fun with that ginormous zucchini.

This time, I roughly followed the structure of Mollie Katzen’s series–frame-by-frame instructions. But I simplified it just a bit, and it seemed to work well.

  • Recipe-Reading–Iced Pumpkin Cookies: We love these sweet cakey-cookies, and I (shhhh!) decided to make them again for my yearly cookie exchange with friends.

It’s an easy recipe, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora get a kick out of adding all of the spices. Plus, the cookies are nut-free, so my pals with allergies in the family can also enjoy them.

iced pumpkin spice cookies -Maddy’s adding spices. . .

The Kid-Friendly Iced Pumpkin Cookies Recipe is here to download. But if you’re exchanging with your pals, why reinvent the wheel–the Mom’s Cookie Exchange Iced Pumpkin Cookies Recipe is also here to download.

Because the recipe calls for ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pumpkin–on top of the normal sugar, butter, egg, my kids seem to especially like making these. And every single time–every time–they want to try each spice.

iced pumpkin spice cookies . . . and Cora’s giving the spices a taste.

So I make tiny piles of the ingredients and let them taste each. Sure, every time Maddy, Owen, or Cora tastes cloves or nutmeg, they stick out their tongue and yell for water, but usually an M & M clears their tiny palates quickly.

I think it’s great to get kids familiar with the differences between salt, sugar, flour, and anything that’s safe to try.

iced pumpkin spice cookies The Pampered Chef cookie ballers
(or whatever they’re called. . . ) really make the job easier.

 

I slipped the recipe sheets into plastic sleeves so that the kids could write on them with crayon and then wipe it off for next time.

As we completed each step of the recipe, Maddy put a check in the appropriate box, just like she did as we gathered our ingredients before we began.

pumpkin spice cookies finished
Our finished Iced Pumpkin Cookies

 

 Our finished products tasted great and looked pretty darn good, too.

Recipe: Iced Pumpkin Cookies by teach mama

 

And that’s it for today. . . tons of cookies baked, and my little emerging readers got some practice reading and following the steps to the recipe as well.

Pour the milk, put some cookies on a plate, and let’s eat some sweets!

 

Do you want to take the recipe to a neighborhood cookie exchange? Print out the parent-version below:

Iced Pumpkin Cookies Recipe to Share by teach mama


fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

math and writing: ten apples up on top

ten apples up on top

post contains affiliate links

 

ten apples up on top

 

The following guest post is written by Jackie Higgins, of Ready-Set-Read. Jackie is a great friend and longtime we teach member, now a member of the we teach advisory board.

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I’m Jackie, an early literacy blogger, reading specialist, and mom of preschoolers. I’m also a book-a-holic. According to my husband, I have too many children’s books. Is there such a thing?

In our house, I use books to teach basic preschool concepts as well as connect to our experiences. This fall my boys have experienced visiting an apple orchard. We’ve read books about apples and done much of our learning at home based on apples. I prepared for our thematic unit by finding many wonderful picture books about apples at my local library.

You can view my complete list of apple books in my apple unit.

After I found the books my boys loved, I created activities using math, science, and language objectives. As Amy would say it was a great way to “sneak” learning into our day.

Plus, research shows that using thematic units helps kids to connect to what they are learning in a meaningful way.  I’m so thrilled to be here today on Teach Mama to share one of our faves from our apple unit, Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss.

Ten Apples up on Top Book Review

Ten Apples up on Top by Dr. Seuss is a rhyming counting book. In the story, a lion, a dog, and a bear compete to see who can balance the most apples on top of their heads. Most kids think this story is so funny. It has a loud, crazy ending. Your kids will join right in with the “kaboom!”

This is a great book for helping kids learn to count objects to 10.  The rhyming text and use of high frequency words makes it a great choice for beginning readers as well.

 

Book Activity for Ten Apples up on Top

apple unit math activity

 

After reading the book, Ten Apples up on Top, we decided to challenge ourselves to see how many apples we could stack on top of our heads. I created apple bean bags for this activity. I cut red felt in circles, stuffed it with beans, and sewed around the circle. The beanbags were pretty easy to make with basic sewing skills. With a little imagination, any size or color of bean bag can be an “apple” up on top, though.  There’s no need to create apple bean bags unless you really want to.

We even created a few “challenges” similar to the book. We tried balancing our apples while hopping, while walking, and while dancing.

After a few tries, the boys recorded the number of apples they were able to balance. We used those in our counting and writing activity.

 

Math and Writing with Ten Apples up on Top

 

apple unit math activity

After our balancing apples challenge, we created a math craft. The boys glued apple clip art on top of a boy face. They carefully counted out the apples to match their score from the game above. Then, they practiced writing numbers.

They are preschool and kindergarten aged so I provided a print out of the sentence. “______ had ___ apples up on top.”  I helped my youngest fill in the blanks with his name and number, but my kindergartener was able to practice writing his name and practice number formation.  My preschooler really wants a beard, so he added that as well! More advanced children could practice writing a complete math sentence to describe their pictures.

I provided my kids with faces to color for their project, but many kids would be able to draw themselves with apples up on top. If you are interested, all of the clip art is included in my apple unit.

 

Extending the activity

The week after we completed this project at home, my son’s kindergarten class read Ten apples up on Top and did a similar activity.  His class was learning to compare numbers. They chose how many apples to put up on top. Then they compared that with a partner. This would be a fun way to introduce math terms such as greater than, less than, equal/same.

Fall is a great time to explore apple themed books and activities. Books can simply be enjoyed together or parents and teachers can work in learning activities to extend the learning. We loved learning about apples and learning basic concepts through our apple unit. Next month we are off to the pumpkin patch, so I guess I better head back to the library. After all, you can never have too many great children’s books!

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Looking for more book activities?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

 

ready set read buttonCome visit with Jackie at Ready-Set-Read for more ways to engage your children with books. You can also find Jackie busily pinning on Pinterest, tweeting on twitter, and chatting about the best Children’s literature on facebook and Google+.

 

Huge and happy thanks to the amazing Jackie Higgins for sharing her expertise with us! Please check out her blog, follow her, friend her, and favorite her–you’ll be glad you did!

 

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

street signs for early literacy and math skill building

signs for early literacy learning

signs for early literacy learning

I’ve shared time and again the importance of using what is around you–environmental print–for early literacy and math skill-building.

Signs are everywhere, and they’re free.

And they can really help our little ones to become excited about reading.

Don’t believe me?

Try it.

I’m over at Scholastic Raise a Reader chatting about some ways you can use signs for your own little ones’ early literacy learning.  Check it out: Signs–Easiest Reading Your Kids Should Ever Do.

Want a little more?

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Street Signs For Early Literacy and Math Skill Building:

Check out these few posts about the same subject.

 

alphabet and reading on the roadAlphabet & Reading on the Road

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street signs for learningSigns, Signs, Everywhere are Signs

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street sign mathStreet Sign Math

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Happy street sign reading!!

the national book festival: what it is and why you should go

national book festival what it is and why you should go

national book festival what it is and why you should goThe National Book Festival is this weekend, September 21-23, 2013.

Go.

It’s awesome.

And it’s free.

It’s on the National Mall here in DC, but if you can’t make it, don’t fret.  There are tons of online resources available–so it’s kind of like you’re there even if you’re far from our Nation’s Capital.

Honestly, it’s one of my most favorite weekends of the year, and that’s not an exaggeration.

This year? On Saturday, I’m thrilled about trying to catch a glimpse of KEVIN HENKES (of Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Owen, A Good Day, many others…), Fred Bowen (from our fave Washington Post section, the Kids Post), Veronica Roth (no joke! she wrote Divergent and Insurgent), the Poetry Out Loud winners, & more.

And Sunday? GIADA!!! Did you read about her new books for kids? Yes. She combines cooking and adventure and kids. We read all about it in the Kids Post this very day.  They’re called the Recipe for Adventure series, and the first takes place in Naples and the second in Paris.

Also? Mark Teague (LaRue books, Pigsty, and more), Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns) & more.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • The National Book Festival–What it is and Why You Should Go:

Follow @LibraryCongress on twitter because the Library of Congress hosts the event along with honorary chairs, President and Mrs. Obama.   If you go, use #NatBookFest to add your tweets to the mix!

  • What it is: The festival is essentially a celebration of books and reading. It features 100+ authors, poets and illustrators in several pavilions where you can actually meet and hear firsthand a ton of different poets and authors, get books signed, have photos taken with storybook characters and participate in a variety of activities.

national book fest extras

So check out the schedule. Figure out what two or three authors you and your kids want to see. Then search your house for your favorite books by that author, shove the books, some sunscreen, some waters, and some snacks in your backpack, and get your tail on down first thing in the morning.

In the past, they’ve had reusable bags and posters available for visitors, and you just wander around, smiling and happy and in disbelief that you’re in the presence of seriously awesome literary rockstars.

  • Where it is: Between 9th and 14th Streets on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 22 from noon to 5:30 p.m.   Rain or shine.
  • Why you should go: I wrote about the awesome of the National Book Festival last year, but it is worth repeating.

Check it out:

national book fest -- bring your family

This year:

  • Scholastic will be there again, sharing how a number of authors and illustrators have shown what Read Every Day means to them.  Check out information on Scholastic’s eBook platform, Storia, and Build A Book yourself!
  • PBS Kids will be there again, sharing news on the new series, Peg + Cat, and tons of favorite PBS Kids characters will be there for pictures, like Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street, Arthur, The Cat in the Hat, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George, Daniel Tiger from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Martha from Martha Speaks, the cast of SUPER WHY!, WordGirl and Peg and Cat from the new PBS series.  Educator resources will also be shared. Love it!
  • The Digital Bookmobile will also be there again, along with a number of other cool tents, sponsors, and resources and activities for kids and families.

national book fest fun

Will we see you there?

If so, and you have a Girl Scout in your family, she can earn a National Book Festival badge just by going!

nat book fest girl scout badge

Need more information?

Have you been there before? What suggestions, advice, or experiences do you have to share?

Talk about some serious learning in the every day when and if you can make it down!

 

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, written only to share news of an awesome event I’d love to see more families in the DC metro area take advantage of.

Affiliate links are used in this post; when you click on a link, we get a teeny, tiny little percentage of the sale. Thank you!

when talking to teachers: 5 tips for parents

when talking to teachers 5 tips for parents

when talking to teachers 5 tips for parents

As a writer for Scholastic Parents’ Raise a Reader blog, I’m always surprised at what sparks the most conversation among readers.

I recently wrote Talking to Teachers: What Every Parent Needs to Know, and it raised a boatload of emotion over on the Scholastic Parents’ Facebook page.

Really. I was quite surprised.

Check it out.  And tell me. . .

What do you think?

Am I missing the mark?

Do you agree or disagree?

Did any of the comments strike a nerve with you, as a parent or teacher?

Share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page, or find me on twitter, @teachmama, and let’s continue the conversation!

 

 

 

school RULES! super-silly lunchbox joke notes

school RULES! super-silly lunchbox joke notes

post contains affiliate links

 

 

school rules lunchbox joke notes

It has been such an amazing summer.  I am desperately, terribly, incredibly sad to see it go.

But here we are.  Marching forward.

At my kids’ request, I whipped up another batch of lunchbox love notes.  This time, they’re silly, wacky, crazy, funny, and giggle-inducing.

They’ve asked for more jokes.  So fun.

And since school’s starting in a minute (waahhhh!), what better way to ring in the new school year than by celebrating their good, ole school days with School RULES! Lunchbox Joke Notes?

Right?  Right.

And really, the jokes help to keep things light for this mama who has a hard time with change.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • School RULES! Super-Silly Lunchbox Joke Notes: During our last summertime library trip, we grabbed a boatload of joke books, and I added the ones that were school-related to this 3-pager joke printable.

They’re funny.  I must admit.

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

And because Cora loves the pictures–and can still really benefit from using them to help her decode the text, as an early reader, I tried to add related art for each joke.

Amazing to think that last year’s Wordless Riddles Notes were mostly photos because she couldn’t read as much. Incredible what happens during that Kindergarten year! Our babies learn to read!

There are 24 superstar, hilarious, fabulous notes on these pages.

 

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

Cut the notes together if you have more than one kiddo. . .

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

then write a little love. . .

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

. . . and fold it so that the answer to the joke is hidden!

To make it easier for cutting (so I’m not spending three hours standing and cutting, standing and cutting), I simply grab three copies of the first sheet and cut those–three pages at once. Then I do the same for the second and third sheets.

I stack them in our cabinet so I can easily grab the first three on the pile, write a quick ‘Maddy, I love you! xoxo love Mom’ on the note–something short and sweet–and toss them in the lunchboxes.

The school RULES lunchbox joke notes are here to download and use for your own kiddos if you so choose. If you would, feel free to share with a buddy so that all kids get a little something silly in their lunch this year!

Print them here: school rules joke lunchbox notes

school rules lunchbox notes  | teachmama.com school rules joke lunchbox notes

I try to put the same note in each child’s lunch so I can make sure there aren’t repeats through the month, though that doesn’t always work.  Just clip them together in a little stack so they’re easy to grab when I’m making lunches two seconds before they leave the house.

I wouldn’t worry if your kiddo isn’t reading yet; you can still add lunchbox love notes and have your child ask the teacher to read it to him or her. I did that when Maddy, Owen, and Cora were teeny, and I really think that it helps kids build confidence, patience, manners, and communication skills.

Though teachers are super-busy, and we all know that, most likely he or she can find 15 seconds to read a silly note to a student.

And that’s it. Just a little something silly to get us moving in the right direction next week when school starts. Keeping it light for a few weeks of change.

Want a look at all of our lunchbox looooove notes? Here they are:

Need more awesome Back-to-School lunchy ideas? Definitely check out:

Here’s to a rockstar 2013-2014 school year and many more to come!

fyi: feel free to use the links below to more joke books if you’d like more silly  jokes in your life

back-to-school shopping: the secret to keeping kids happy AND parents happy

back to school : happy kids, happy parents

back to school shopping Back-to-School shopping can be crazy, stressful, and anxiety-producing for kids and parents alike.

But there are a few things we can do to make this annual event lighter, easier, and more fun for everyone.

We’ve kept our kids actively engaged in our back-to-school shopping ever since they were tiny, and this year was no different. However, as they get older, we make adjustments to keep them in the loop–from beginning to end.

We did a whole lot of pre-shopping research and planning, printed out their shopping lists, and then hit the stores.

And once we were there, we tried Cartwheel from Target that I really think is beyond cool for customizing and personalizing a shopping experience. Easy and free. Two ‘musts’ for anything that I incorporate into my life.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Back-to-School Shopping– The Secret to Keeping Kids Happy and Parents Happy:

Keep kids happy by. . .

back to school price shopping tabletop surprise

back to school price shopping tabletop surprise

 

1. Making them involved from step one.

This year, because we have a rising 4th, 2nd, and 1st grader (UNbelievable!), we had the kids help with even deciding where to do our shopping. As one of our tabletop surprises, they went through the circulars, compared prices, looked at their lists, and made some shopping decisions.

And then? We shopped.

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back to school shopping

 

 

2. Making shopping for supplies a ‘scavenger hunt’.

Each year, I’ve created a ‘kid-friendly’ shopping list for Maddy, Owen, and Cora. Their lists included everything they needed for the year along with hopeful donations for the classroom.

We read through the list together, and then the kids are on their own to search for each item (not really–we do it together!).

back to school shopping

back to school shopping

Each kiddo gets his or her own shopping back, list, and pen or pencil. And they’re free birds.

Need a list?

We’ve used:

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back to school shopping

3. Organizing ‘loot’ after you get home.

The cool thing about this is that not only are kids re-reading the list, you’re getting a chance to see that everything on the list actually makes it into the bags that you’ll take to Open House.

It reminds me of the way kids root through their Halloween loot after Trick-or-Treating–they really do love going through their supplies once shopping is finished.

And if we weren’t able to locate an item? Now’s the time to circle it, highlight it, and make sure we find it before the big day.

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Now it’s our turn.

Keep parents happy by. . .

target cartwheel | teachmama.com

1. Saving money.

Really. Totally one of the most fabulous things out there, Target’s Cartwheel is so crazy cool, it’s nuts.

The concept is simple: you choose up to 16 items you are shopping for, add them to your ‘cartwheel‘ via computer or mobile device, have the checkout person scan your special code at the register, and BAM! you get a huge discount.

And if you use it enough, you can earn badges, awards, and even more savings.   You can actually even link Cartwheel to your Facebook account (though there’s no pressure to do so), and then you get to see what your friends are buying, what they’ve saved, and what you’re missing out on if you don’t start using your own cartwheel.

They’ve got items organized in Collections so shopping is completely easy.

target cartwheel logo

Though admittedly I created my Cartwheel months ago, I let it sit, forgot my login and then re-created my Cartwheel again only recently and then (believe this. . . ) forgot to use it at the checkout for our back-to-school shopping (what is wrong with me?), many of my friends have used it and have saved HUGELY.

How do I know they did? Because I tell them about these great things then forget to use them myself and then thanks to the power of social media, I can tell how much they’ve saved because Cartwheel lets the whole world know (if you want–if you don’t want the world to know, you can adjust your settings). But don’t we all brag about great deals we find? I know I do.

Cartwheel does it for you.  Try it. And let me know what you think.

And then send me a text reminding me to use mine.

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target redcard happy

2. Creating a card that makes sense.

The reality is that I often lose receipts. And I often buy things I need to return. And occasionally I forget to return those items.  It’s a beautifully ridiculous combination, I’m afraid, one is equivalent to nails on a chalkboard for my poor, loving, patient husband.

So the REDcard makes sense for me.  It makes sense for my familia.

No need for me to get into the nitty gritty of the card, but check it out for yourself.  It’s a happy card.

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take charge of ed target

3.  Giving back.

Any time you use your REDcard, not only will you save 5%, but 1% of that savings will go to an eligible K-12 school of your choice.

The program is called Take Charge of Education, and literally all you have to do is visit the site, register your card and choose your school. And tell your friends to do the same. Because at the end of the year, your kids’ school will receive a check–thanks to your spending at Target.

Seriously. So do it. Because you know you spend a handful of cash at Target. Might as well have some of that go back to your school, right?

 

target give with target

 

But the giving doesn’t stop with your school–even though it sure is nice.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Target has made it a goal to give $1 billion to education by 2015 through their their numerous programs and initiatives, like the incredible School Library Makeovers for one.

They’ve just re-launched Give With Target for a second time–and it’s awesome.

Here’s the deal:  (from the Target site)

Simply select a K–12 school from the list of eligible schools and vote for it weekly until September 21 or until $5 million has been awarded, whichever occurs first. It takes just 25 votes to start. After that, Target will donate $25 to your selected school. Upon receiving 25 votes, each additional vote equals $1 more for up to $10,000 per school. If your favorite school is not on our list, please choose another school.

give with target email screener

Target’s making it insanely easy to share, to vote, and to remind your friends, to, since they’ve all hooked up with Facebook for this one.

You can use their nifty little email template to share the news with your class, PTA, principal, friends, family, you name it. Share it. And if you to, and if you have enough sharing and voting going on, your school can really see some cold, hard cash, thanks to Target.

Just think about the books, equipment, technology, teacher training, and field trips that kind of money can buy. Nuts.

Start sharing, friends! Start the sharing!

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That’s it. We’re at year number five of buying school supplies and doing the elementary school thing, so we’re kind sorta hitting a stride.

No, it’s not perfect. But we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve now to keep kids–and parents–happy for at least a little bit of the experience.target inner circle

What works for your family? Any tricks for maintaining peace or bringing some big smiles to your crew? Do share!

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, written as a parent and educator who wants to share a few good–pretty darn great–things when I see them. As part of Target’s Inner Circle program, I am privy to a behind-the-scenes look at all things Target, but that in no way, shape, or form influences what I write about them.  Honestly, the more I learn, the more I like ‘em. 

Please be sure to follow the links for more specific information about these programs and campaigns.