soap experiments: easy backyard summer fun

soap experiments teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

soap experiments | teachmama.com

 

Friends–now that swim and dive season is over, we’re doing a whole lot more free bird play, lazy mornings, and long afternoons at the pool.

It’s been great, and I am so thankful.

But each and every day we try to do something where there’s some sneaky learning involved. Something a little more focused or directed.

Something that allows my crew to use their brains and let their imaginations run wild.

One day last week, we had the pleasure of having some pals over, so we rocked out some early morning soap experiments.

So fun.

And we used materials we had around the house: soap. And some food coloring.

And–I’m willing to declare that even though there was some fun science learning involved–and even a worksheet–that the kids had a blast.

Here’s the skinny . . .

Soap Experiments–Easy Backyard Summer Fun: 

For our tabletop surprises, all I did this day was place a few things on the table.

soap experiments: teachmama.com

And all you’ll need for these soapy experiments are:

  • soap! (grab a few kinds: Ivory, Dial, Irish Spring, and Dove soap)
  • a plate
  • a bowl of water
  • food coloring
  • access to a microwave
  • a copy of the Soap Experiment sheet (download below)

Then let your kids at it!

This does take a bit of parental support, since heat and a microwave is involved, so be aware.

soap experiments: teachmama.com

 

What I did was begin by talking about a few things:

  1. Have kids open each bar of soap, feel it, and smell it.
  2. Talk about the weight of each: Which is heaviest? Which is lightest? Which feels hollow? Solid?
  3. Talk about how each bar of soap feels: Which is smooth? Which is more coarse? Which is more creamy? Which is sandy?
  4. Compare each bar of soap in the big bowl of water: Which floats? Which sinks? Does their behavior change over time?

soap experiments: teachmama.com

soap experiments: teachmama.com

Then because we had a big group–six kids!–we unwrapped one more bar of each soap and closely watched what happened when we placed each bar in the microwave.

And this is where it got really cool.

My kids remembered doing our soap experiment a few summers ago, when we made Soap Dough, so they had an idea about what would happen when we placed the Ivory soap in the microwave.

They were not sure, however, what would happen to the other brands of soap.

So one by one, we put a bar or soap on a plate and watched it in the microwave.

One.

soap experiments: teachmama.com

soap experiments: teachmama.com

By.

One.

And when we ended with the Ivory soap, and the kids watched it blow up into a beautiful and amazing sculpture, the kids were in awe.

Each of the girls had so much fun microwaving their Ivory soap to the max and then letting it cool.

soap experiments: teachmama.com

soap experiments: teachmama.com

By now the boys had lost interest, strangely enough. I guess we couldn’t compete with a dual Minecraft building session. . .

We talked about what happened.

We walked through the why’s of this experiment, pulling the floating experiment back into the loop.  I asked them:

  • Why did the Ivory soap act the way it did?
  • How did Ivory compare in weight to the other soaps?
  • How did Ivory soap compare to the others in water?
  • What might have made Ivory behave the way it did?
  • Let’s look at the cost of each soap. Why was Ivory so much less expensive than the others?
  • How might that effect your skin?

It was a lot of fun.

soap experiments: teachmama.com

soap experiments: teachmama.com

The girls, I think, had the most fun outside, on the porch, making their Ivory into soap dough.

Just a few drops of food coloring, I said.

But they didn’t listen.

And their hands paid for it later: Red hands. Blue hands. Purple hands.

soap experiments: teachmama.com

soap experiments: teachmama.com

Quite a mess they made.

But they had fun, and you know what? Maybe they learned a little something along the way.

I know I sure did: that even big kids must be watched with food coloring.

soap experiments: teachmama.com

soap experiments: teachmama.com

 

soap experiments: teachmama.com

soap experiments: teachmama.com

Want to give the soap experiment a go? 

Try it. Let your kids in on it, and who cares if you get a little messy? It’s all good, clean fun right?

Take a minute and download the experiment sheet below:

soap experiments teachmama.com

soap dough teachmama.com

Soap Dough Experiment pdf: soap dough teachmama.com

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

 

soap experiments teachmama.com

Take a look at the original Soap Dough post:

soap dough soap molds crazy cool fun with soap

Want a few more fun summertime ideas?

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.
 

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.

learn to make cookies or cupcakes: online courses from Craftsy

cupcake classes cover teachmama.com

learn to make cookies or cupcakes: Craftsy  | teachmama.com

 

I never would have imagined these courses could be quite so fun, but they are.

This summer, Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I have been exploring the crazy insane range of online classes that Craftsy offers. We love them. The videos are clear, they’re comprehensive, and they’re fun.

Online classes are a super idea for the summer–or any time–and the format of many of the courses really works well for upper elementary aged children.  

So one of the things I’m going to surprise the kids with next week is a bunch of fun new classes to take: we’re going to learn to make cookies or cupcakes.

Or cookies and cupcakes. Yum.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Learn to Make Cookies or Cupcakes–Online Courses from Craftsy:

My kids, at 11, 9, and 8 years old, are at a really fun age for this kind of thing.

We’re way over diapers (phew!), and naptime is a thing of the past. But the kids are also not into having to be with friends every minute of every day, and they’re still big into hanging around us here at home (phew!).

learn to make cookies or cupcakes: Craftsy  | teachmama.com

learn to make cookies or cupcakes: Craftsy  | teachmama.com

So what better way to fill long summer afternoons than with the sweet smell of cupcakes baking in the oven?

There are always very reasonable prices for the courses at Craftsy, but from August 1- August 3, the prices are going to be especially reasonable. Many of the classes on how to make cookies and cupcakes will be on sale. Wooo-hooooo.

Check it out

  • The Custom Cupcake: Make dreamy, custom-flavored cupcakes a sweet reality with new recipes and techniques! Mix and match flavors, frostings, fillings and decorations.

learn to make cookies or cupcakes: Craftsy  | teachmama.com

 

  • Decorating Essentials: Designer Cookies: Be the go-to dessert designer and make any celebration a sweet success. Use run sugar, hand-painting, brush embroidery and more to create adorable, custom cookies.

learn to make cookies or cupcakes: Craftsy  | teachmama.com

 

  • The Perfect Cupcake: Deliver heavenly cupcakes no one can resist. Combine creative cupcake flavors, fillings and frostings with gorgeous decorating for out-of-this-world treats!

learn to make cookies or cupcakes: Craftsy  | teachmama.com

 

 

  • Piping Cookies that Pop: Create all the cookies you can dream up using simple piping skills and vibrant colors. Use custom templates and royal icing to make original designs that will amaze any client!

learn to make cookies or cupcakes: Craftsy  | teachmama.com

Here’s how Craftsy works:

  1. You sign up for an account. (Super easy, right?)
  2. You buy whichever courses you want. (No joke, you’ll want to take about 50)
  3. You watch the class whenever you want. As often as you want. (Really, it’s that easy.)
  4. You wow your friends and family with our newly-acquired skills. (Wow them you will.)

cupcake classes cover  teachmama.com

I think we’ll go for The Perfect Cupcake and Decorating Essentials: Designer Cookies

They look like they’ll be a good fit for us. I’ll let you know how they go!

What looks good to you? Have you taken a course like this before? I’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

 

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.

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

This summer as we usually do, I’m trying each week to include some new and exciting math fun.

In the form of puzzles or chocolate challenges or number games or just a new spin on old school problem-solving, any way we can pull in

Especially this year we’ve loved the challenging puzzles created by Erich Friedman.

These puzzles, you guys, are tough.

This week we tried the Birdwatching Puzzles.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Birdwatching Math Puzzles–Super Challenging and Tricky: 

The goal with these mazey puzzles is to move from the left side of the puzzle to the right, ‘visiting’ each color bird the same amount of times.

The ‘birds’ are actually colored dots, though, and it’s not as easy as it sounds.

 

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

 

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

 

Though Maddy and Cora didn’t even give these puzzles a go, Owen did.

He sat down at some point in the day–I never actually saw him do it–but the evidence was there.

 

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

He tried.

He stopped.

He doodled.

He tried again.

He did it.

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

He graded himself.

He moved on.

That’s summer, y’all.

birdwatching math puzzles: super challenging and tricky

birdwatching puzzles teachmama.com

 

Do you want to download the Birdwatching Puzzle sheet? birdwatching puzzles teachmama.com

Remember, I did not make these up or design them; I am the furthest thing from a tricky puzzle creator.  These are from Erich Friedman’s site, which you can visit here: Erich’s Puzzle Palace.

All I did was find the site, love it, and create easy-to-print puzzle pages for our tabletop surprises.

Thank you, Erich, for sharing your puzzle awesome with us!

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

______________________

______________________

Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

teachmama on instagram

 

Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

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

 

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.

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

color puzzles: fun math and logic for kids

color puzzles teachmama.com

color puzzles  teachmama.com

 

Sometimes it’s hard for me to find cool ways of sneaking some math into our day, but recently we’ve been on a puzzle kick.

Puzzles are a super way of getting your brain moving in clever and creative ways, allowing you to stretch those critical thinking skills.

Math is so much more than just number recognition and basic facts. Math is actually the study of numbers, equations, functions, and geometric shapes and their relationships. And there’s a whole lot when it comes to their relationships.

Puzzles help us bring to life those those relationships.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Color Puzzles–Fun Math and Logic for Kids: 

Actually, these color puzzles are fun for kids of all ages. In fact, I’ve done so many of the puzzles I’ve found on this site, that some days an hour will pass and it feels like a heartbeat to me.

color puzzles  teachmama.com

And I’m not really a puzzle person.

It’s just that I find these addicting.

color puzzles  teachmama.com

These are the four color puzzles from Erich Friedman, the puzzle king. 

Erich created every single one of these puzzles, friends; it’s amazing. It’s incredible. Honestly, he must be brilliant.

All I did was make these puzzles accessible to my kids for their summertime tabletop surprises. I wanted to be able to print them out, have the kids work on them whenever they could and not have to be plugged into a device.

So it has worked out well.

color puzzles  teachmama.com`

And if you want to try these awesome four-color puzzles, check out Erich’s site:

Or if you want to download the printable, you may do so here: color puzzles teachmama.com

color puzzles: fun math and logic for kids

color puzzles teachmama.com

If you choose to share this printable, which we hope you do, please first link to Erich’s site, and then share this post. Thank you!

 

Do you know that when Maddy was young, I totally forgot about puzzles?

It’s true.

When she was two, I had a girlfriend and her two children over for a playdate. My pal was explaining how her son, who was also two at the time, couldn’t sit still for television programs but could always sit still to work on a puzzle.

I felt like the earth stopped moving. I was holding Owen at the time, and I remember nearly dropping him. He was about six months old, and he was wiggling out of my arms, and at the same time, I felt dizzy and nauseous.

Puzzles?

OH MY GOSH! HOW I FORGOT ABOUT PUZZLES?!

How will Maddy ever succeed in life, having never even seen a puzzle until she was 26 months old?!

Right.

So as soon as I could politely usher my friend out of the house and get my kids strapped into the car, you better believe I beelined for the toy store.

I grabbed an alphabet puzzle and a number puzzle–two chunky Melissa & Doug classics–and we used them for years and years since.

I’m sure I overreacted. Maddy did not need a puzzle right there and then, but my point is that puzzles are important, friends.

Our little ones–and we as adults–need puzzles for many reasons.

In fact, a University of Chicago study found that

Children who play with puzzles between ages 2 and 4 later develop better spatial skills . . . Puzzle play was found to be a significant predictor of spatial skill after controlling for differences in parents’ income, education and the overall amount of parent language input.

In examining video recordings of parents interacting with children during everyday activities at home, researchers found children who play with puzzles between 26 and 46 months of age have better spatial skills when assessed at 54 months of age.        

“The children who played with puzzles performed better than those who did not, on tasks that assessed their ability to rotate and translate shapes,” said psychologist Susan Levine, a leading expert on mathematics development in young children.

Read more here: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2012/02/15/puzzle-play-helps-boost-learning-important-math-related-skills#sthash.4iDTDIbD.dpuf

Cool, right?

And it’s no secret that puzzles are said to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.  The Fischer Center for Alzheimers recently wrote about a study from the University of California, Berkeley with these findings:

Reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles and solving challenging puzzles may be linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Now a new study shows how mental stimulation may protect the brain. . . . 

“We report a direct association between cognitive activity and Pittsburgh compound B uptake, suggesting that lifestyle factors found in individuals with high cognitive engagement may prevent or slow deposition of beta-amyloid, perhaps influencing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” the researchers write.

Read more here: https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/crossword-puzzles-alzheimers/

So? Get those puzzles out, friends. No matter how old your little ones are, puzzles are for everyone.

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

______________________

______________________

Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

teachmama on instagram

 

Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

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

 

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.

outdoor adventures for the whole family: Shenandoah Valley

outdoor adventures for family teachmama.com

outdoor adventures for family  teachmama.com

 

My crew is always up for a little adventure, especially when it’s outdoors.

So when Trekaroo invited us to visit and explore the Shenandoah Valley this spring, you better believe I was ready to pack my bags.

But I will be totally honest when I say that my family’s initial reaction was not the same as mine. When I told my husband and kids that we were going to the Shenandoah Valley for a quick weekend trip, they were a bit skeptical:

I mean, how fun can it really be?

We’re not all that into camping, Mom. I don’t wanna camp out there with all those bugs and animals.

How much adventure could there really be in Virginia?

I don’t even know how to say where we’re going, and no one I now has ever gone there. Great.

I am not up for a long drive. We’ve been too busy, and the last thing I want to do is sit in a car for a million hours. 

Right.

However, once we got there and saw how beautiful this area was and experienced first-hand the excitement of running through a five acre playground, the exhilaration of zip-lining across a forest, and joy of braving the rapids of the Shenandoah River, they were totally changed.

And I’ve heard them talk about it with their friends more times than I can count.

We’re ready for a return trip, and I’m hoping that our sharing this trip will encourage more of our friends to take time off to explore the Shenandoah Valley and plan something awesome thanks to Trekaroo and the Go Blue Ridge site, the Kids Trail in particular.

The Kids Trail isn’t actually a trail, so keep your hiking boots on, my friends. The Kids Trail is simply one part of the Go Blue Ridge Travel site that’s filled to the brim with cool activity ideas for kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Outdoor Adventures for the Whole Family–Shenandoah Valley:

We loved our weekend away for many reasons, but I’ll share with you our top 7 reasons to go.

1. It brings you back to the good, old-fashioned family time.

Sure, we spend a lot of time with our kids. We are together as a family a lot.

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

 

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

But our weekend in the Shenandoah Valley gave us a chance to spend time together in ways that reminded me of the yesteryears.

We picked fruit. At MacIntosh Fruit Farm, the girls and I picked cherries, strawberries, and asparagus. (Well, okay. We found one asparagus stalk and we picked it. Does that count?)

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

We stuffed our faces with strawberry shortcake and cherry muffins and cherry cheesecake at the Farm, and we loved every second of it.

2. It gets your family moving. 

We got up early and didn’t stop moving until our heads hit the pillow. But we chose such a diverse bunch of activities that we were engaged and energized the whole way.  Thanks to the GoBlueRidgeTravel Kids Trail, we were very easily able to find a ton of activities for our active, adventure-seeking family.

Because we knew we wanted some outdoor activities, we simply plugged that option in on the Kids Trail site like this:

outdoor adventures for the whole family: Shenandoah Valley

And tons of ideas came up! Awesome, right?

Our weekend game plan was this:

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

Friday: 

  • Grab the kids immediately after school, and hit the road!
  • Check into the hotel. (We stayed at the amazing George Washington Hotel which was so comfortable and luxurious at the same time!)
  • Relax, order dinner in from George’s (The ribs? To die for!) and swim in the hotel’s indoor pool. (Complete with a jacuzzi–yay!)

Saturday: 

  • Breakfast at George’s. (We dined in this time, and oh my goodness, the Chesapeake Eggs Benedict was our fave!)
  • Picked cherries and strawberries at MacIntosh Fruit Farm (Their strawberries and cherries were perfect!) then ate there.
  • Went on a quick hike at Bear’s Den. (So much history and so much fun!)

outdoor adventures for family  teachmama.com moving

  • Played at Great Country Farm. (My kids are still talking about the huge bouncing pillow!)
  • Ate dinner in Olde Town Winchester. (Super dining options–something for everyone!).
  • Watched our first drive-in movie at Family Drive-In Theater. (Family-friendly and just like I remembered the drive-ins of my childhood!)

Sunday: 

  • Slept in a bit after our late night!
  • Packed up and checked out of the hotel.
  • Headed straight to Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center where we zip lined and rafted! (My kids are already begging for a return trip!)

We were busy!  But it was all fun–and we’d do it again in a heartbeat!

3. It challenges you and takes you to new heights.

We never thought we would be a zip-lining family. Ever.

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

Our guides, Will and Olivia, were the most supportive and patient teachers ever. They taught us everything we needed to know about staying safe while zip-lining, and they kept the experience light and fun. They were the perfect mix of serious and silly, and we were grateful to have them as part of our day.

Take a quick look at our photos from Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center to see how much fun we had:

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

And? We never imagined that we would be rafting over level three rapids. Ever.

But we did, and we had an incredible time.

We went out on the river with two other groups, after a short but thorough safety intro and how-to. We spent about two hours on the Shenandoah River.  It was honestly one of the most exhilarating and memorable experiences ever.

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

Our guide was SpaceBob (think: SpongeBob and know that apparently river guides have river names), but he was far from spacey. SpaceBob was a true leader and fearless guide.

He instantly grabbed Maddy when she fell off of the raft (not even kidding!), calmed my nutso worried mama nerves, and taught us a bit about the river and its history through the trip.  He was funny and great with our kids.

Even with Maddy falling off of the raft, even with two hours of rowing, and even with having spent the morning zip-lining, we left the river smiling and planning our return trip.

4. It’s a great combination of high-end comfort and real adventure.

One thing we loved about our weekend was that we were able to relax in an affordable–but luxurious–hotel after a long day of excitement and adventure.

Our hotel room was huge–it very comfortably slept all five of us, with a king bed, a sofa bed, and a rollaway bed. We had a sitting room with fireplace, teeny kitchen (microwave and mini fridge), and the most fantastic bathroom ever–the spa shower had a rainfall from the ceiling, side sprays, and a regular shower.

Take a quick look at our tour of our room:

5. It’s got options for everyone. 

From restaurants to activities to places to stay, there’s something for everyone in the Shenandoah Valley of the Virginias. Even our outdoor adventure day could be catered a bit differently to each family’s needs while still keeping everyone outside and moving!

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventures: teachmama.com

  • If your family totally loves hiking, you could spend the day hiking at Bear’s Den.
  • If your kids love parks and playgrounds, you could easily spend the day at Great County Farms.
  • If your kids are into adventure, Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center has it all–spend the day there!

6. It involves tons of sneaky learning. 

My kids don’t even realize it, but the weekend was a complete learning experience.

The great gal at MacIntosh Fruit Farm taught us what to look for in the cherries we picked and shared with us a bit about her favorite spots in the area–one of which was Bear’s Den, our very next stop!

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

We learned about the history of Bear’s Den on the signs at this unique hikers’ center.

Bear’s Den is a historic stone mansion that sits on 66 acres and is 150 yards from the Appalachian Trail. Bear’s Den boasts a beautiful, westward-facing overlook of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains, and it’s a cool spot for families, hikers, and backpackers because it’s a lodge, hiker  hostel, campground, and cottage in the woods.

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

 

Many hikers use Bear’s Den as a starting point for a hike going north or south on the Appalachian Trail, as a sunset viewed from the overlook at Bear’s Den is said to be the best in the area!

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

Though the building itself was closed (or seemed to be) when we were there, we kind poked around a bit, read the signs, and enjoyed a short hike near the building.

Cora, from Great Country Farm, talked us through the butterfly life cycle with the help of one of their signs, and we learned about the strawberry life cycle (who knew?!), cows, honey, and more.outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

The kids played for a long time at the Great Country Farm gem mining area, and even working their way through the play areas, the rope maze especially, got their brains moving!

At the Family Drive-In Theater, the owner, Jim, took us up to the video room and taught us how the drive-in works!  He is so easy to talk to, and his excitement about running the drive-in theater is contagious. It’s been his dream to run a drive-in, and now he’s doing it.

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

outdoor family adventure: teachmama.com

Jim hosts all kinds of cool events at the theater, and he really makes it a welcoming community event.  They hosted a free-popcorn day for fathers on Father’s Day, a Yard Crawl (huge yard sale) in August, Labor Day Dusk to Dawn movies (movies all night long!), the annual Halloween Costume Contest and Trunk or Treat event, and more.

Even though my crew dozed off (okay, well I dozed off–) before the end of Tomorrowland, the experience was unforgettable!

7. It’s closer than you think.

The Shenandoah Valley of the Virginias is closer to those of us in the DC Metro Area than you may think.

I once thought that our only day trip options were Annapolis, Baltimore, DC, and Northern Virginia. I had no idea that we could get to this area of the Blue Ridges in under two hours.

When we left Harper’s Ferry on Sunday, it took us less than an hour to get home. What a treat!

 

Remember, no matter where in the world you are, little hidden gems like the Shenandoah Valley are probably nearby.

Do some exploring of your own this summer. Ask around. Find out what areas are close to you that you never thought to explore.

Visit GoBlueRidgeTravel or Trekaroo and type in your zip code. See what’s nearby, and let me know what you find!

We. Had. Such. A. Blast. I’d love for you, too, to have an awesome experience!

Check out our video re-cap:

Or take a look at all of our photos from the weekend: 

 

And now? A chance for you to win your own family getaway!

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: Massanutten Getaway: One (1) lucky winner will receive five nights lodging in a two-bedroom condo with four complimentary Indoor/Outdoor WaterPark passes plus a $50 Resort gift card!

Do you want to win a Massanutten Getaway with five nights lodging in a two-bedroom condo with four complimentary Indoor/Outdoor WaterPark passes plus a $50 Resort gift card!??!  Yes, yes you do.

——————————-

massannutten 851x315

 

Please visit this link for more information: Massanutten Getaway Sweepstakes

Restrictions: The prizes are non-transferable * Reservations are based on availability * No cash value * Prize certificate will expire one year from issuance date

Rules and Guidelines: * No purchase necessary * One raffle winner will be selected * Winner will be selected randomly and your chances of winning are based on the number of entry points you acquired against the total number of entries for this giveaway. * 18 years of age and older * US and Canada residents only, excluding residents of the Provence of Quebec. * Winner will be notified via the email provided and must respond to the notification to confirm their prize within the time specified in the email.  (Usually 3 days). * After the winner has been confirmed, the winner will be announced on this blog post.

Prize Value: $1682.00

Entry Period: July 6, 2015 at 12:01 AM PST to July 19, 2015 at 11:59 PM PST.

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

——————————-

 

fyi: I was invited to take my family to the Shenandoah Valley as part of a Trekaroo campaign with GoBlueRidge. I was compensated for my time, and our experiences were covered by the above partners. As always, my opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little adventure-seekers. 

summer fun for kids: week 3 #tabletopsurprises

summer fun for kids: week 3 #tabletopsurprises

summer fun for kids: week 3 #tabletopsurprises

We have had one wild week here, friends.

Our Owen headed to his Nanny and Pap’s for baseball camp, and our Maddy and Cora were stuck here with me and were pretty darn sick.

Luckily, our girls are on the mend (finally!), and Owen is back here with us in Maryland, now determined to land himself on a baseball team. (Not sure how that’s going to happen, but you never know. . .)

Needless to say, he had a blast at camp–we knew he would!–and we managed to have some fun here, too, while he was away, though we missed him terribly.

The kids and I just wrapped up week three of tabletop surprises. This week, we made a few changes to our 2015 calendar to accommodate for our sickies and the July 4th holiday.

It’s all good.  It really doesn’t matter what you do each day as long as you’re consistently putting some cool things out for the kids. Really.

No one knows whether you’re following our freebie 10-week tabletop surprise calendar but you. So be sure to make this work for your kids!

Here’s the skinny. . .

Summer Fun– Week 3 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: 

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

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

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

matchstick math  teachmama.com

The matchstick math activity we did last week for tabletop surprises was a real hit.

I had an inkling that the activity would be a favorite of Owen’s but really all of the kids were into it.

And when we didn’t bump the table, making the matchsticks fall all out of place and go everywhere, it was all good.

It was super-simple, and I thank the good folks who write Matchstick Puzzles blog for their ideas.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Matchstick Math: 

Really, I had heard about matchstick math years and years ago but never really tried it with my kids.

And the idea is simple: you have a simple challenge to complete with matchsticks. Move two to create a totally different object. Add three to completely remake a design.

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

 

Fun. And easy. But it’s not really that easy at all.

And when I stumbled upon this awesome matchstick math blog while planning our tabletop surprises calendar this summer, I like totally hit the jackpot.

All I did was make an easy printable for me which included three things:

  1. the before design
  2. the challenge
  3. the answer to the puzzle

 

Then, like all of the tabletop surprises every day, I set the matchstick patterns out on the table and let. It. Go.

So yes, you need matchsticks to do this.

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

And then throughout the day, the kids hit the table when they felt inclined.  When they were interested. It was great.

The printable includes six of the millions and millions of matchstick puzzles I found on the site, so if you really love them and want more, head on over. Really, what I have here is a fraction–and I mean fraction–of what they have going on over there.

They’re matchstick cray-cray.

But here’s the thing: if matchsticks make you nervous, DON’T. USE. MATCHSTICKS.

For real. You can totally get the same thing going on with these matchstick puzzles if you use something other than matchsticks.

Consider using:

The possibilities are endless.

Please don’t allow your fear–or aversion–to matches turn you away from this activity.

It really is cool, and it really does get your kids’ brains and bodies moving.

It’s quiet. It’s critical thinking. It can be a group or partner activity, and it’s a great way to pass time in restaurants if you need a little something unplugged to do.

 

matchstick math: patterns, puzzles and critical thinking

matchstick math teachmama.com

 

If you’d like to download the document: matchstick math teachmama.com

Please, if you choose to share–which we hope you do!–please share this post instead of the printable. Thank you!

What do you think? Cool?

I’d love to hear what you think!

 

And definitely do check out the awesome matchstick bloggy blog where all the puzzles can be found. Without that site, there’d be no matchstick math for us!

And so was I.

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Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

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Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

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Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

 
Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

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

 

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.

kids make their own commercials: creative, techy fun

kids make commercials | teachmama.com

kids make commercials | teachmama.com

 

As part of our tabletop surprises last week, my kids became movie-makers.

Though it really didn’t start out that way at all.

The little tabletop surprise note challenged them to create commercials for a product. That was it.

But what they did with it was a whole other ballgame.

It was a good reminder for me that kids really, truly need free time to explore and play on their own, no matter the platform.

I didn’t step-by-step teach them how to use these movie-making platforms; rather, I gave them the tools and let them figure it out.

Seriously.

And really, the tools they used are pretty intuitive, but still. I was impressed.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Kids Make Their Own Commercials–Creative, Techy Fun:

So the note on the table read:

lights, camera, ACTION!

Make a commercial for any product you want!

Use: iPad (Videolicious or iMovie) or Chromebook (WeVideo)

Showing at 4pm TODAY

I set out a number of products around the table as inspiration: the Wet Brush, TinkerCrates, DoodleCrates, RushHour, AllQueens Chess, SoCozy products, Altoids, you name it.

I just wanted them to have ideas. Starting points.

Then when they were ready, I showed them the tools they could use.

I showed them iMovie, Videolicious, and WeVideo. I knew that Maddy had used WeVideo before at school and liked it, so I figured she’d go that route. She didn’t. She wanted to try iMovie.

Before I knew it, the kids were moving. They were choosing products, working together, disappearing for a few minutes and then reappearing in different costumes and clothes. It was a riot.

And yes, they had questions as they went, but we figured things out together.

I used iMovie to make my videos, but it’s a different animal on the iPad. 

So there was a whole lot of on-the-spot learning from my end, too. I didn’t realize how easy it was to create movies on the iPad. It doesn’t really have to be a huge event–I should be able to whip up videos in no time flat, thanks to Apple’s templates and creations. Awesome.

So what began as a challenge to create commercials morphed into movie and video card making.

Owen went right upstairs and got to work on the iPad mini.

Cora grabbed the iPad and went nose to screen.

Maddy was finishing something else and then got stuck with the super-old tablet, got frustrated, and decided to come back to it. I’m not sure why she didn’t use the Chromebook and WeVideo because I know she used it in school. Hmmmmm.

With permission, I’m sharing their finished creations:

Cora’s commercial:

 

Then, Cora said she wanted to make another movie, so I suggested she make a teachmama.com trailer. She did, and it’s awesome!

I mean. . .I’d subscribe! (wink!)

 

Owen went for the scary edge.

Be forewarned: if your little ones are looking over your shoulder, watch this one another time. He puts on his scary Halloween costume and gets a little creepy:

 

Cora went wild. She then made a Father’s Day movie for her dad, and she started on another family movie. She really liked the ease of the iMovie templates, but she said she was ready to make her own movies without templates. We’ll see how they go. I’m thrilled!

Owen was good with his one scary movie.

Maddy started creating a spy movie, complete with costumes, memorized lines, and scenery changes, but she didn’t finish. I’m hoping she does so soon!

Really, the coolest thing about this activity was that the kids learned on their own.

They tried, they re-tried, and they tried some more. It was awesome. And they were really proud of their final products.

And so was I.

______________________

Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

______________________

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Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

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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