read across america day EVERY day of the year

celebrate read across america every day |

This post was originally published on March 1, 2013 but we’re republishing because it’s that important. 


celebrate read across america every day |


It’s Read Across America Day!  Only something that everyone’s been talking about for days and days and days and days now, but don’t worry if you’re already in your pj’s or missed the boat altogether.

Don’t worry if this is the very first time you’re hearing about it and now you feel like  you’re the only kid not invited to the party. TO-tally not so!  Everyone’s invited to this bash–no matter who you are, where you are, or what you read.

Read Across America Day is a simply the day that marks the birthday of Dr. Seuss.  Read Across America Day has kids all over the country reading Seuss, rhyming, watching Cat in the Hat and The Lorax videos, and wearing a whole lot of red and white stripes to school.  And Read Across America Day kicks off THE reading month: across america day every day

But I really think that Read Across America Day–and the whole hoopla of reading-excitement that follows through most of March–should be carried on every day.

In my opinion, reading can–and should–have a place in everyone’s house on every day of the year. That’s right. Every. Single. Day.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Read Across America Day EVERY Day of the Year: You got it.

Check it out–


In this quickie video I’m sharing 3 ways that families everywhere can bring home the Read Across America excitement any day they choose.

I touch on three easy things any parent can do to make their home a literate environment, to raise word-conscious kids, and to make books a constant conversation.


What am I missing? What else could–and should–parents do to bring Read Across America home all year long?  Let me know in the comments section, please!


fyi: want to check out the books I mention in the vlog?

Some affiliate links are used. Many thanks for considering!

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts combines physical learning and digital learning | & @tigglykids

sponsored post




iPad toy? Right.ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

When I heard about it, I thought the same exact thing.

We’re inundated with toys, and my kids are lucky to even have an iPad. Why do we need anything else? And how on earth could there be a toy for the iPad?

I’m honestly in awe.

This iPad toy is actually so cool. And the way it incorporates hands-on learning with digital learning blew my mind.

Tiggly Counts.  It’s an award-winning blend of physical play and digital play.

You want it. Stat.

And I not only have a sweet coupon code for you (30% off!–woot!) but I also have two Tiggly Counts sets to give away–just in time for the holidays! Read on.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • iPad Toy for Early Math Skills–Tiggly Counts: I’m a really tough critic when it comes to apps for my kids.

Especially because we have a close watch on the kids’ screen time and because there are about a gazillion apps on the market, I think we, as parents, should be super-choosy about who and what we’re letting into our lives.

So when I was asked by my friends at Tiggly to check out their new Tiggly Counts, I was curious to say the least.

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts


Essentially, Tiggly Counts is an iPad toy that combines physical learning with digital learning. And it’s all about math. And it’s for our little guys–our preschoolers. 

I love it.

Kids ages three and older would especially like this toy, but always use your own judgement. I know my Owen would have totally dug this at 2 or 2 1/2, and I know that at 7 and 9, Cora and Owen really liked trying it out. Just worth noting.

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

Tiggly Counts comes with rods–these five rods that are durable and easy to manipulate for little hands–and they were actually inspired by the Cuisenaire rods used in Montessori education.  I know all our Montessori fans are dancing over this one.

The rods are used with the iPad apps. And for a mom who’s always careful about screen time, I love the combination of hands-on and digital learning, especially for basic skills like counting and number recognition.

Three apps were designed for this set each focus on math but cover slightly different areas: 

  • Tiggly Chef: covers numbers and early addition concepts,  math symbols, following instructions and thinking flexibly
  • Tiggly Adventures: introduces kids to number line concepts, number sense, and counting skills
  • Tiggly Cardtoons: basic math skills like one-to-one matching, counting, and equal sets

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly countsBy far my kids loved Tiggly Chef the most, maybe because of the chef’s voice, maybe because of the silly creations, maybe it was more their speed, or maybe because of all the cooking they do over here. Whatever it was, they laughed out loud while playing this game. Super cute.

I wish, wish, wish I had this app when my kids were younger because it would have really helped build a foundation for strong math skills at an early age. I love the combination of saying the number, seeing the number, and seeing that number of objects. 

Overall, I love:

  • the combination of counting on the screen and then within the rods–because the rods’ windows are large enough to see the objects inside;
  • the wait time that this app allows. It moves slowly–but not too slow;
  • the graphics: simple, sweet, and cool;
  • the concepts: kids get these apps. They really do. They’re intuitive and designed for today’s digital kids;
  • the whole idea of bringing together physical play and digital play. It’s just. . . awesome.


ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts

ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts


Here’s the deal with this app, if you’re confused–anyone can grab the three apps in the iTunes store for free; however, the rods–the counting toys–come with the set. And these rods are what make Tiggly Counts super cool.

With the rods, kids are really interacting with the apps. They’re holding, physically counting, and moving objects on the screen.

Check out our video close-up:


Tiggly Counts isn’t even out on the shelves yet, but it will be very soon. It will be available in November, but folks are pre-ordering it now.

And I have a 30% coupon for you to use! Yaaaa-hoooooo. Just in time for the holidays.


ipad toy for early math skills: tiggly counts


All you have to do is visit the Tiggly Counts site ( enter the code ILOVETIGGLY  for 30% off of your order.

This code is good through the end of October 2014.

However, I am giving away two Tiggly Counts sets to one lucky reader.  That way, you get to keep one for your kids and give one as a gift to a nephew, niece, friend, or relative. So fun, right?


GIVEAWAY: Two sets of Tiggly Counts.

Do you want to win TWO sets of the new and amazing Tiggly Counts??!  Yes, yes you do.  

[PLEASE NOTE: prizes will not be delivered until mid-December 2014, so plan accordingly!]


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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

This giveaway ends Friday, October 17, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 10/17/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.



fyi: This is a sponsored post; however, as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little digital kids.

how to turn a t-shirt into cool tank top: 10 min or less

how to turn an old tshirt to cool tank

how to turn an old t-shirt into cool tank: 10 min or less

We’re knee-deep into swim and dive season, and with three kids who participate in our neighborhood swim team and dive team, we’re crazy busy.

Two or three meets each week and practice every day.

It’ll all come to a screeching halt in just a few weeks, though, and the kids will be twiddling their thumbs and pestering each other between tabletop surprises and Fun Sticks.

This past week our spirit theme was red, white, and blue, with tie-dying t-shirts being a huge part of the patriotic attire. The night before the spirit pep rally, when all the tie-dying was to be done, we realized that we didn’t have plain t-shirts for the kids to dye. 

It was late. I was tired. And I was not going to run out to the store. No way, Jose.

So we scoured our dressers, closets, and under the bed boxes for a few white shirts that Maddy, Owen, and Cora could use.

And to our excitement, we found a few too-small t-shirts that we bought for Owen so he had something to wear under his First Communion suit. 

I sent the shirts to the pool with the kids, knowing they’d come back dyed and ready for some TLC.

And it worked. We turned a few t-shirts into cool tanks in a matter of minutes. Ten minutes to be exact.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Turn an Old T-Shirt into a Cool Tank–10 Minutes or Less:  

Really. Ten minutes max.

Check it out:

fyi: The youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers.

It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!


What do you think? Will you bling out your t-shirts with a few beads and cuts? Let us know!

And remember, if you are looking for some fun ways of keeping the kids busy this summer, we have what you need.  Do check out our 10-weeks of free super-cool activities for kids: tabletop surprises.

tabletop surprise email promo


disney pin trading: why it rocks for families

disney pin trading: why it rocks for families

post contains affiliate links




disney pin trading why it rocks for families spring, my family was elated to have been invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in Disneyland.

It. Was. Amazing.

Not only did we hear from amazing speakers and make incredible connections with talented bloggers from around the country, but we also had the chance to explore Disneyland for the very first time.   Disneyland rocks.

We prepared with our Disney Fun Fact lunchbox notes, and we totally pulled off the most amazing Disney surprise scavenger hunt ever for our kids. And the trip did not disappoint.

For the very first time, we pin traded. We Disney pin traded.

And I totally think it rocks for families. Every family should try it, and the Disney vacation–no matter whether it’s Disney World or Disneyland–is taken to a whole new level.

Our kids were the perfect ages at 10, 8, and 7 years old.

We’re totally and completely hooked on pin trading.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Disney Pin Trading–Why it Rocks for Families:

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families |

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families |

Essentially, Disney pin trading is just that: trading Disney-themed pins at Disney parks. 

Simple, right? Right.

You can take Disney pin trading to just about any level you want, or you can challenge yourself to gather entire lines, sets, or mini collections. We went simple. Believe me.

We started with a handful of pins to get us started.

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families |

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families |

For the six or so weeks we had to prepare for our trip, Maddy, Owen, and Cora worked hard to earn their pins. We:

  • purchased a beginner set of Disney pins from Amazon;
  • found some lanyards we had around the house (you can buy lanyards pretty inexpensively);
  • explained that for every 10 gems the kids earned, they could earn one pin;
  • took time each Sunday evening to count gems and to choose pins;
  • whomever’s day it was chose first–he or she handed in 10 gems and grabbed a pin from the dish;
  • added pins to lanyards as the weeks went on;
  • began trading once we hit the parks!

It was awesome. And for so many reasons I believe Disney pin trading rocks, but I share my top 5 reasons here:

fyi: The youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers.

It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!


We all really had a blast with pin trading.

I know the kids now look at their lanyards much differently–they know the story behind nearly every pin.


disney pin trading |


disney pin trading |


Need a little more info before you get started? Check out my friend Tiffany’s post: Disney Pin Trading 101. It’s awesome.




fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts

quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts |

Teacher Appreciation Week is here.quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts |

Teacher Appreciation Week is a time to give a little something extra to all of the teachers in your life, whether your kids are in preschool, elementary school, middle, or high school. 

You do not need to go crazy here. Teachers are thankful for any simple token of appreciation.

And if you’re anything like me, you’re a little bit behind in just about everything in life.

This parenting thing is hard.  And add in activities, work, meetings, and a very busy spouse, life is, well. . . busy.

So this year, though I would have loved to have worked hard with the kids to make something crazy cool like our flower pens, butterfly pens, or fingerprint note cards for teachers, we just didn’t have the time.

Instead, we found a quick, cool teacher appreciation gift that I am sure our kids’ teachers will love because it is definitely something they’ll use.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Quick, Cool Teacher Appreciation Gifts: We were rockin’ the yard sale front this weekend. It’s that time of the year, so I always have my eye out for a few things–my must-have’s from yard sales–and I found one of ‘em.

We spotted a brand, new Scrabble game, and I grabbed it for fifty cents.




quick, cool teacher appreciation gift |

I wasn’t sure how we’d use it, but I had seen tons of super-cute ways of using Scrabble tiles that I thought it might come in handy for a last-minute, quick, cool teacher appreciation gift. And they did.

Maddy, Owen, Cora and I talked and talked about how we could use them. We considered:

  • Scrabble tile necklaces  (nah)
  • Scrabble tile bracelets (nope)
  • Scrabble tile bookmarks (but how?)
  • Scrabble tile pencil holders (yikes. not enough time. . . )
  • Scrabble tile tissue box covers (nah)

But nothing seemed right.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift |

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift |

So when the kids were at school yesterday, I ran to our local Home Goods store, much like a TJ Maxx or the like, and I grabbed three super-cute wooden desktop filers, similar to this unfinished desktop filer.  I know that most any teacher can find a way to use something like this.

And very simply, I hot-glued the teachers’ names onto the holders.  The kids loved them.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift |

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift |


They were 110% sure their teachers would love them, and I think they’re correct. With a kid-made thank you card placed in the slot, they’ll be cool teacher appreciation gifts that we’re pretty sure the teachers will use.

They’re super-simple and quick to make, but the added personalization touch makes them pretty special.

And really, with teacher appreciation gifts, you want to give teachers something that they’ll use.  For all their hard work and dedication, they deserve as much as we can give them.


fyi: The youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers. It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!


What are some of your go-to gifts for teacher appreciation day?  I’d love to hear your ideas!


fyi: affiliate links are used in this post. . . use them, and we over here at get a teeny, tiny percentage of your sale. thanks so much, friends!! 


Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board school & teacher appreciation on Pinterest.


stay connected: on the web

stay connected

I know you’re out there. stay connected

So let’s get–and stay!–connected!

With all of the crazy changes to facebook lately, I just want to make sure we’re doing all we can to stay connected in whatever ways work best for you–my readers. And for good reason.

Because there’s a ton of awesome going on over on our facebook page, on instagram, and just about everywhere.

So real quick, here’s the skinny. . .

  • Stay Connected– on the web:

I know this is a strange post, but my bloggy pals have done it and have found it successful. Why? They’re reconnecting with all the friends they ‘lost’ through the crazy facebook changes.

So let’s do it.

I’ll run through how best to connect with us on facebook, instagram, youtube, twitter, and pinterest.

———— ****** ————


It’s been silly over there lately with the many changes facebook has undergone, but if you’re there, I want to see you.   So here’s what you need to do:

1. Go to the facebook page

2. Click ‘like’ and click on following. Then on the dropdown menu, click ‘get notifications’.  So two big things: like and get notifications.

facebook teachmama stay connected

3. Then if you’re really up for organizing your life, click ‘add to interest lists’ and add me to, say, a list of your favorite blogs!

Oh, I would be so happy!

4.  I made a list of my top 30 or so blogs, and I called it ‘blogs I heart: education, teaching, & parenting‘. Follow it by clicking the link.

Then, once you follow it, you can find your fave blog updates any time just by going to the left sidebar. You will be so glad you did.


stay connected


Basically our facebook page is a rockstar place to connect with readers and followers. It’s great–we throw out some questions, share ideas, ask for advice, share other people’s blog posts and cool videos, you name it.  Some days we even give out prizes–just for being awesome.


Please head over and say hi! We (cough, cough) just may be giving away something fun for our followers this week!


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stay connected |

Instagram is pretty simple. If you have an account, simply search for @teachmama1 and you should find me!

I post teasers to things we’re doing over here, our activities, and travel. You’ll see that our life is far from perfect and is often quite messy.

stay connected with | instagram

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stay connected teachmama you tube

YouTube is pretty easy to figure out, because all you need to do is log in to your google account. Once there, click ‘subscribe’ and you’ll find all of the latest videos.

The youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers. It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!

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stay connected teachmama twitter

If you’re on twitter, super. Just search for @teachmama and click ‘follow’, and we’re friends.

I share a lot of cool activities for kids and families, some fashion posts, and pretty much have conversations with brands, friends, followers, and strangers. Twitter is pretty funny.

stay connected teachmama twitter lists

If you’re new to twitter, don’t be afraid. Sign up for an account, and follow one of my twitter lists: brands I heart, foodie friends, disney friends, we teach members, local folks, you get it. They’re not all 100% updated, but twitter lists make twitter a WHOLE lot easier to use.

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stay connected teachmama pinterest

Pinterest is really one of my absolute faves for sharing ideas–anything from food, to education, to holiday decorating. Fashion, travel, gifts, and crafts, pinterest is absolutely incredible. It’s literally an online pin board, a cork board of sorts.

Simply create an account if you don’t already have one, and click ‘follow all‘ in the front center of the board. Then you’ll see all of my pins.


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teachmama subscribe by email  grab an idea whenever it’s posted |

You’ll never miss a thing when you sign up for freebie ideas in your inbox. And I’ll love you forever. True bff’s.

teachmama newsletter header.png

teachmama news: weekly updates  |

Sent every Tuesday morning, you’ll get the week’s posts in one happy newsletter.

7 tips for literacy new promo

And really. Sign up for updates, now, and you can grab a free pdf created by PBS Kids and me–7 Tips for Early Literacy Learning. Bam.

I love you that much.

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Want to know a little bit more about me before you follow one. more. person?

Check out:

meet teachmama on the web

That little tiny bar on the upper righthand corner of the blog says ‘about‘ and ‘on the web‘, and by clicking either, you can find out a little bit more about the gal behind the blog and teach mama media, llc, which is her little biz. 

And that should be it. If you follow me, please do drop me a line, a quickie hello, or share something fun with me.

I’d love to connect with you. And if you follow me and I don’t follow you back immediately, ping me. I’m always a few steps behind.

Think this post was totally annoying, or did you find it helpful? I’d love to know.

Either way, I’m looking forward to connecting!!

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

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

post contains affiliate links



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, 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?

3 reasons you should create a family media agreement

family media agreement

family media agreementOur family just signed our first Family Media Agreements.

Yep. We’re a digital family in a digital age, and it’s about time we got all the important stuff out on the table. Signed it. In ink. Totally bigtime.

What’s a Family Media Agreement and omg how much does it cost? No worries! No stressing! It’s all good. A Family Media Agreement is not a big deal but. . . well, really, it is a big deal.

Very simply, a Family Media Agreement is a contract of sorts signed by family members that outlines safe practices for online behavior.

It opens the door to frequent conversations about keeping kids safe online, in the same way that discussing stranger safety does. And a lot of the same concepts apply.

Anyone can create a just-for-your-family Media Agreement, and especially if you have kids who use mobile devices, who surf the web, or who play interactive platforms like Minecraft or Club Penguin, you may want to consider taking this step.


family media agreement


Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 3 Reasons You Should Create a Family Media Agreement (TODAY!):

1. It begins a must-have conversation. Online safety is no joke. Kids are smart and kids are quick.  And it’s true that they may know a lot more than we did at their age, but if your kids are online and you haven’t talked to them about big stuff like stranger safety or how to keep them safe online, it’s time.

We said to our kids, Hey guys. We’re having a quick but super-important Family Meeting after dinner tonight, and it’s about Family Media Agreements. We know that being online–being connected–is fun and important to you. But there are things we have to talk about–and expected behaviors we have to agree upon–before we move any further.

family media agreement

Because Maddy and Owen are using Club Penguin, which allows them to interact freely with other players, we have to make sure that your behavior in this game is safe, smart, and secure.

We talked about what they knew about being safe when they are online, and they made connections between safe online behavior and safe offline behavior (a whole lot is the same: treating others with respect, keeping personal information (name, location, age, etc) to yourself, or notifying an adult if anything at all makes you feel uncomfortable.


family media agreement

family media agreement


2. Your kids deserve it. They do. Many adults feel overwhelmed, intimidated, and afraid of the internet. They check Facebook, maybe even Instagram, but beyond that, they feel like they ‘just don’t know enough’ to help their kids much more.

And that’s not true, and it’s not okay. We just can’t give up that easily, and there’s no reason to.

You can ‘get’ the internet, even if you’re not all that tech-savvy. Even if you don’t have a Facebook account, if you never heard of Vine or SnapChat, have anxiety about Twitter, or never re-pinned a pin on someone’s board over at Pinterest, no worries!

family media agreement -

family media agreement

You can ‘get’ this. You really can.

What you need to know: (there’s a ton more to this, but the bare bones are below)

  • You must have access to your kids’ log-ins and passwords at all times. Bam. You’re paying the bills. You need and deserve this.
  • Terms of Service for most all social sharing platforms say users must be at least 13 years old for use, according to COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). There. So if your kid is younger than 13 and is begging to get on Instagram, tell her it’s not legal.
  • You should have your Google, Yahoo, Bing, and YouTube settings adjusted or in ‘safe mode’ so that adult content cannot filter through. Not perfect, but it’s a start.  When your Google is in Safe Mode, bubbles will show in the upper right corner of the screen. I like that.


family media agreement -


family media agreement -


  • Your computer should be in a central area of the home. Mobile devices should be used on main floors, with an adult nearby.
  • Kids need help when they are searching online. Help them with search terms, reliable sources, and finding and understanding the search results.
  • Kids should be unplugged–UNplugged–when they go to bed. Phones and mobile devices should be with the parents, charging and resting so they’re ready for a new day.
  • Need or want more? Check out Our Digital Kids Series or pick up a copy of my pal Amy Lupold Bair’s Raising Digital Families for Dummies book! Fabulous, top-notch resource for all things family, safety, and security!


family media agreement
3. Family Media Agreements are quick, easy, and free. Really.

We used the free Family Media Agreement available on Common Sense Media, which is one of my all-time favorite sites ever, ever, ever in the whole, wide world, and we only adjusted it slightly to make it fit for our family. Find one that is age-level appropriate.

family media agreement common sense

Check it out. Print it. Talk about it. Sign it. And you’re done.

Read through it with your family and make sure it’s cool with everyone. Every member must be on board for this to work.

This is a signed, binding agreement. It’s serious. And if your kids like their devices and want to keep them, then some rules must be in place. What I love about this agreement is that the parents’ piece acknowledges that online time is important for kids–because it is.


Common Sense Media is a site that every family should become fast friends with, for so many reasons.

I honestly pull out my Common Sense Media app any time I’m about to turn on an unfamiliar movie for the kids because it shares a short summary, ratings, and ideal age ranges for any game, app, tv program, book, song, video game, or movie.  But I regress. . .

The following resources from Common Sense Media will be super-helpful for helping you prepare your Family Media Agreements:


our digital kids

Keep it light, but keep it serious. Do it over dinner or over ice-cream sundaes. Do it with your own family or gather several families and do it together. It doesn’t matter how–it just matters only that you do it. 

If we don’t start having open, honest conversations with our kids about online safety, we’re nuts crazy.

Is the Family Media Agreement perfect? Nope. Is it a rockstar attempt? Yes. But like every biggie conversation, this should be frequent. It’s not a one-time and done deal.  Keep it posted somewhere central and if need be, do a refresher every few months.

Do you have a Family Media Agreement?

Have you considered it?

Do let me know! I’m always up for learning better ways at managing this big job of parenting our digital kidsThank you, thank you, thank you to Common Sense Media for all you do to keep my family smart, safe, and strong online!


fyi: affiliate link is used in this post

help tweens with speaking, sharing, and video reviews: kidzvuz

help tweens with speaking, sharing, and video reviews: kidzvuz

speaking sharing and video reviews for tweens | kidzvuzAs a parent of a tween, I’m up for almost anything that will help her become better at speaking, thinking, and sharing her ideas and opinions.

As an educator, I know that kids love more than anything to have their ideas heard.

Mixing it all together in a safe, moderated environment is key. Especially for our digital kids, having a platform where tweens can get some serious practice with speaking, sharing, reviewing and putting it all to video is absolutely awesome.

Enter: KidzVuz.

KidzVuz is a safe online video sharing site for kids ages 7-12 years old.

Kids can literally share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions on just about anything from pets to books to games to movies.  They share reviews on sports, toys, and travel.

It’s a platform where tweens can be heard, pick up some recommendations, and create connections.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Help Tweens with Speaking, Sharing, and Video Reviews– KidzVuz: An ideal online stepping stone for tweens, KidzVuz is something that my kids have been playing with for some time now, and they love it.

help tweens with speaking thinking and video reviews


help tweens with speaking thinking and video reviews

And I love it.

I love that:

  • membership must be approved by a parent or caregiver first;
  • users don’t use their real names–they create ‘screen names';
  • all videos are moderated before publishing;
  • kids can leave and receive feedback for other videos;
  • KidzVuz provides ‘lessons’ on what makes great video reviews (click on ‘want your video to rule’ on the right sidebar);
  • it is a certified ‘kidSAFE‘ site;
  • users can become ‘Star Reviewers‘ and actually receive products to review on the site;
  • it’s not spammy or full of distracting ads;
  • this is a super confidence-builder for kids and a great way to get them started with video and technology.


help tweens with speaking thinking and video reviews

help tweens with speaking thinking and video reviews


Maddy has done a few reviews, and she has loved, loved, loved sitting down to read the feedback she’s received. She loves watching other videos and leaving comments for other reviewers.

What I really, really love is that these reviews can be as simple or as complex as the user can handle. Reviews can be quickie, 20 second, I love this toy because. . .  or a video share of a well-planned three-reason persuasive argument for a favorite sport, book, or pet. our digital kids

It’s been an opportunity for Maddy to practice summarizing, planning, and thinking. It’s been a great mini-practice for public speaking.  It’s been an exercise in getting her point across clearly and concisely.

I think it’s more than ideal support for teachers in summary or review writing, and kids would love to create videos to accompany their writing.

Gulp. Makes my heart ache for the classroom again. . .


Right now, if you check out the site, kids can enter to win a signed copy of Mr. Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt and a $20 Visa Gift Card. Woot! Pretty darn cool if you ask me (or my tween!).

What do you think? Have your kids tried KidzVuz yet? Do you think they’d go for it?   Parent-Teacher Conferences are around the corner for many–consider recommending it to teachers of tweens!

Just another way of supporting our Digital Kids!

how to help kids choose just right books

how to help kids choose just right books

how to help kids choose just right booksIt’s hard to watch a child struggle trying to read a book that is too difficult, especially when the kiddo is adamant about plowing through it.  Whether the struggles be with decoding the words on the page, with reading fluently, or with understanding what’s being read, it’s hard to watch.

Because though for many of us reading comes naturally and without thought, for others, reading is a continual struggle.  A long and laborious, difficult and painstaking process.

That’s why book choice is so important.

Muy importante.

Like really, really, really important.

Though children do need to be able to choose the books they read, if the child doesn’t choose a book that ‘fits’, it can really be downhill from there. He or she can get into a pattern of choosing books that won’t fit, making reading difficult and unpleasant.

But there are techniques and strategies that parents can employ to help guide children into choosing the ‘best fit’ books for their kids—books that match the child’s own strengths and abilities.

Nothing fancy or difficult, just a few quick reminders that your child can commit to memory that will ultimately provide him or her with skills that will make trips to the school library, media center, or book corner a whole lot more meaningful.

Here’s the skinny . . .

  • How to Help Kids Choose Just Right Books: I say it loud and clear right here. . .


And if you want the bookmarks to use for your own kiddos or classroom, please help yourself.

Best Fit Bookmarks: best fit books bookmarks

best fit bookmarks |

best fit books bookmarks |

I’d appreciate a pin, link back, tweet, or shout if you do choose to use them.  And if you have suggestions, I’d love to hear ‘em!

(And if you choose to share them, which we hope you do, please link to this post instead of to the attachment page! Thank you!)

How do you help kids choose just right books? Let me know what has worked for you in the comments section below.