Make Family Road Trips Educational { sweepstakes }

road trip tipsWe are preparing to head off on our annual trip to the Oregon Coast in a few weeks and I have been filling up my Pinterest boards with ideas. It got me thinking about how parents can make family road trips educational at the same time as making them more fun for everyone in the car.  Do not miss the awesome sweepstakes below – Little Pim language learning for kids has sponsored this post as well as the sweepstakes.

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1. A sense of humor. I have to make this number one because no one can have fun or learn a thing if everyone in the car is at each others’ throats. So pack an extra helping of patience and lots of laughs because unless you really want to stop at every exit to carry out the empty threats you are throwing into the back seat, it’s more productive to let the little things slide.

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2. Books about where you are going. Before you leave, head to the library and search for books about where you are going. Don’t limit yourself to the children’s section either; you might find some wonderful books with great images in the adult section too.

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3. Apps. I am not a huge fan of too much screen time, but while traveling I loosen that considerably. What I don’t loosen up on is the quality. I would much rather have my kids learn a new language, read a book on a tablet, or work on math skills.

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4. Travel chalkboards. Use them to play hangman, practice drawing road signs, play tic tac toe and more. Bring a plastic cup full of chalk to put in your cup holder. Here’s a tutorial for making your own.

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5. Counting games. Count red cars, count Starbucks, count construction zones…the sky is the limit, and this requires absolutely nothing extra in your car.

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6. Stop and read the historical markers. If there are more questions after reading them, use your smart phone to find out more as you continue on your way.

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7. Audio books. Local libraries have fantastic collections of audio books. To take the learning even further, hand your kids copies of the book to follow along.

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8. Foreign language music CDs. My kids have been specifically asking for the Little Pim Spanish CD even though I am trying to get them to listen to the French one. They love it. Music is a great way to learn languages, and a long road trip is a perfect time to listen.

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9. Play alphabet games. If you need a new variation of the old classic check out my post on Scholastic Parents with some fun new twists.

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10. Tell stories. In our family we have a whole slew of ongoing made up stories. We all take turns, and to listen to your child make up stories is not only educational but entertaining too!

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What is your best road trip tip? Add it in comments and we will keep this list growing. You can see great travel, parenting and of course language learning tips on Little Pim’s Pinterest boards.

Now for the Sweepstakes!

little pim giveaway

My friends at Little Pim love travel as much as I do and are partnering with me to giveaway one of their Deluxe Language Gift Sets in the language of the winner’s choice ( The Spanish set is shown above) . You can check out all the languages here. Click the link below to enter.

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Enter For A Chance To Win

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Official Rules
This sweepstakes is open to American residents 18 years or older. To be eligible for the sweepstakes you must enter your name,  and email address in this Google document .  1 winning entry will be drawn at random, using Random.org, after the sweepstakes closes on July 27th at 8:00pm PST. The winner will receive one Deluxe Gift Set from Little Pim valued at approx. $85 After the winner is notified he or she has 48 hours to respond with their mailing address for shipping their prize or another winner will be chosen at random. No purchase necessary.The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Any information gathered through the sweepstakes including email and postal addresses will not be used in anyway other than contacting winners and shipment of winnings.   VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
 
This post was sponsored by Little Pim.

e-Book Bundle Sale !

book collage pinterest

 This offer is now over. Each book linked below is still available through individual sales. Click through the titles to find out more.

On Saturday after announcing my brand new eBook for bloggers I promised that I’d have an exciting eBook announcement for those of you who aren’t bloggers. Well this is it. Brought to you by Melitsa of Raising Playful Tots and Cathy of NurtureStore, along with some of my favorite bloggers and authors, the Spring Learning Through Play special offer is now open – but for April 8th to April 14th only. Read on to see all the items included in the spring special offer – and start looking forward to getting your copies!

 

The Garden Classroom by Cathy James of NurtureStore
The Garden Classroom brings you fifty-two creative and playful outdoor activities, giving you a whole year’s worth of garden-based projects to enjoy with your children. Value $9.99

 

ScienceArts by MaryAnn Kohl of Process Art & Treasures of Childhood
ScienceArts inspires children to explore the world of science through art with open-ended experiments. 141 pages of art experiments amaze & delight children as they discover the magic of crystals, light, constellations, plants and more. All scientific reactions and concepts explained. Value $9.99

 

The Playful Family by Shawn Fink of Awesomely Awake
The Playful Family encourages and challenges busy parents to slow down and spend quality time together with their children, regardless of their age. With nearly 100 ways to connect, engage and play together this easy-to-read e-book is a must-have resource for any parent interested in becoming more playful and happy while raising children. Value $4.99

 

Connecting Family through Creative Play e-Workshop by Gina Kimmel of Connecting Family & Seoul and Katherine Lockett of Creative Playhouse
Connecting Family through Creative Play is a 30 day e-Workshop designed for families who wish to connect with their children on a daily basis through simple, creative play. These ideas are perfect for parents looking to find a balance between the everyday responsibilities and connecting with your child in meaningful ways that fit into your family’s daily rhythm. You will receive daily messages from us in your inbox with inspirations to play, ideas for connection, and resources to help spark your imagination, including access to a private Facebook community. {Please note this course is running April 29th 2013 to May 28th 2013 only and you must register on the course before May 15th 2013} Value $25

 

Alphabet Glue: Volumes Nine through Eleven by Annie Riechmann of Bird and Little Bird
Alphabet Glue is a downloadable e-magazine for families who love books, and aims to help more families to incorporate creativity, imagination and all things literary into their everyday routines. Each issue contains leveled book recommendations organized by theme, bookmaking tutorials, story-building activities, and hands-on projects that complement favorite titles in children’s literature or teach basic elements of science. Value $11

 

Alphabet Summer Learning Pack by Erin Wing of Small Types
The Alphabet Summer Learning Pack is a collection of flexible summer learning ideas organized around an “A to Z” theme. Use these resources to prevent the dreaded “summer slide” and build fun learning routines into your summer plans. Ideas are simple and flexible, so families can pick and choose the activities that work for their particular child and schedule. They provide opportunities to practice key literacy and math skills, and they leave plenty of time for lemonade stands and sand castles. Value $7

 

Pink and Green Mama Crafts: Backyard FUN by MaryLea Harris of Pink and Green Mama
Backyard FUN brings you 13 Art Lessons and Craftivities to create your own Backyard Fun Camp at home or in your classroom with step-by-step instructions, supply lists, and full color photos. The supplies for these fun and easy projects will come from your own art and craft stash, garage, hardware store, and recycling bin! Value $10

 

Alphabet Crafts by Allison McDonald of No Time For Flash Cards
Alphabet Crafts lets you create the alphabet from A-Z with fun crafts that promote more than just letter recognition. Kids will love making their own alphabet and forget that they are learning in the process. With 5 exclusive crafts never published on No Time For Flash Cards. Value $8

 

Alphabet Games by Malia Hollowell of Playdough to Plato
The Alphabet Mega Pack includes 12 hands-on games that teach children to recognize the names and sounds of letters – skills that are important for learning how to read. Each activity includes easy to follow parent instructions and helpful photos. The games are addictively fun for kids AND their families! Value $6

 

Raising a Creative Kid: Simple Strategies for Igniting and Nurturing that Creative Spark by Jillian Riley of A Mom with a Lesson Plan
Raising a Creative Kid will help you raise a creative thinker by simply setting up a creative environment, using intentional language, and nurturing mistakes. This easy read is full tips and tricks that will help you transform your environment into a creativity growth center. Value $7.99

 

5 minute reading tricks for raising rockstar readers by Amy Mascott of teach mama
Fifteen 5-minute reading tricks that cover everything from teaching names to what parents should say during read-alouds, from learning sight words to reading fluently. It’s about rolling out the red carpet for our rockstar readers. Now. Whomever you are, wherever you are, no matter how busy you are. Value $10

 

Parenting with Positive Guidance: Building Discipline from the Inside Out by Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute
Parenting with Positive Guidance gives you the tools for understanding your child’s behavior and effectively teaching and guiding your child toward increased self-control while fostering a healthy parent-child relationship. 100+ pages of information you can start using today! Value $9

 

Treasure Basket Play by Melitsa Avila of Raising Playful Tots
Treasure Basket Play lets you learn step by step how to make your own natural sensory baby play activity with a Treasure Basket. Includes case studies and interview with a sensory play expert on using Treasure Baskets. Value $8.95

 

Play Grow Learn Issue 2 by Christie Burnett of Childhood 101
Issue 2 of Play Grow Learn is packed full of playful fun with 55 pages and over 100 activity ideas. Includes ideas for creating family stories with internationally acclaimed author Hazel Edwards, an exclusive full colour, printable sea themed bingo game, 12 pages of active and outdoor play ideas, recipes, art, literacy, creativity, construction, imaginative play, books and more! Value $4

 

Spring Literacy and Math Activities and Games by Christine Lanyon of Scribble Doodle and Draw
Spring Literacy and Math Activities and Games includes 15 fun learning center ideas. Skills worked on include, addition to 8, patterns, counting to 20, measurement, number sequencing, abc order, writing 3 letter words, rhyming, syllables, compound words and more. Value $8You really are getting an awesome deal!

Check out the details below.

 

Learning Through Play Spring special offer

This special bundle of books is available for you to buy only between April 8th and April 14th. So buy it now or you’ll miss the deal!

I’ve read the books (and written one of them!) and I’m so happy to recommend this offer to you. These ladies really know their stuff and the books and resources are packed full of fantastic creative and practical ideas that you can use with your children. There are sixteen different authors joining in, bringing you over $130 worth of resources. And, guess what – you can buy the lot for just $9.99!

 

How to buy and download the bundle

You can buy the bundle on any device, including computer, Apple, Android and portable devices. You’ll get an instant download of the books and resources so you can start enjoying them straight away. The book will be sent to the e-mail address associated with your paypal account. The delivery system gives you 9 attempts at download within 120 hours, so you can buy now and do the download a little later if you prefer.

A note about mobile devices

Depending on the apps you have installed and your operating system you might be able to go ahead and download each book on your mobile device but if you have any doubts or problems, we recommend you use a computer to download the books and then share them to your mobile devices.

8 Ways Parents Discourage Their Kids From Reading

by Allison McDonald ways parents discourage their kids from reading

No parent intentionally tries to discourage their child from reading. But sometimes our actions do just that. Kids may be resilient, but they are also really sensitive, and how we handle reading in our homes can work for or against our kids’ reading attitude. Once a child writes reading off, it’s much harder to reel them back in and get them to give it a second shot. Here are eight  things to avoid .

 

1. Don’t put down your child’s reading materials. Comics and books with crude humor often get dragged through the mud, as do character-driven books. Their choices may not be your favorite, but when you say no to a book, what your child may hear is no to reading. Instead of banning their beloved reading material , find a way to add in some more desirable books into the mix.

 

2. Don’t provide the wrong level material. No one likes reading something that makes them feel stupid. If the books are too hard they will frustrate your child. If the books are too easy, they will bore your little reader. You don’t need to know your child’s exact level; their interest will let you know. Go to the bookstore or library when you have a chunk of time and let them explore. Take out a bunch of books and try them out. Find favorite authors and read everything they’ve written, then start again with a new author.

 

3. Don’t use reading as a punishment. Saying things like  “Go to your bedroom and read!” or “If you do that again, I will make you go read.” sets kids up to associate reading as a negative thing. Keep punishments and reading separate.

 

4. Don’t forget to give your child  books as a gifts. Gifts are special, and starting at birth books make the best gifts – especially if you read them with the person who gave them to you. Book fairs at schools are a great place for kids to get excited about books, and we use them as treats!

 

5. Don’t explain to your child they aren’t really reading yet when they are only looking at the pictures. If we tell our children they aren’t readers, they will believe it, and to a child this isn’t as fluid as it is for adults. They don’t see that reading is developmental, and this blow to their confidence can really stick with them. If they aren’t decoding words yet, let them know that they can “read the pictures” and tell the story that way until they can read the words too.

 

6. Don’t forget to let your kids see you read for fun.  Studies show that kids with parents who read often for pleasure are more likely to read for fun themselves. So if you want a kid who loves to read, let them see you reading too.

 

7. Don’t over-correct and over-practice. It’s exciting when your child starts to read independently, but forcing them to read and reread text until they have it perfect is not the most effective way to encourage or instruct. Read with your new reader and help when they ask for it. If they miss a word but the meaning is intact, don’t interrupt. If the meaning of the sentence is all screwy, wait for a natural pause and ask them, “Did that make sense?” You can revisit the word if it didn’t. Use the pictures and the rest of the text as clues if the word is too tough to decode.  If you have to do this often, the text is too hard for your child. Choose something easier, or if they are insistent take turns reading so there is some fluency being modeled.

 

8. Don’t forget to read to your kids. Every day. Even those days when you just want them to go to sleep already!!
Check out Scholastic Parents Raise a Reader blog for more simple ways to bring literacy into your family. Together with Amy from Teachmama.com I share with readers  tips, tricks and tried and true ways to Raise a Reader.

This post contains an affiliate link.

75 TV Free Activities For Toddlers

{Hello! If you are checking us out for the first time and like what you see you can subscribe here and get new ideas to play and learn with your kids daily. }

75 activities for toddlers

Toddlers are little explorers and love going from one activity to the next so the more ideas you have in your back pocket the better. All of these are free of any tv or other screen time but I would be the world’s biggest hypocrite if I said my kids never watched any TV as toddlers. This list of TV free activities for toddler  is a way to inspire myself as much as you to try some of these simple activities before reaching for the remote.

  1. Cook – we use play food with real pots a lot.
  2. Toss bean bags into laundry baskets.
  3. Paint with yogurt
  4. Splash in the sink.
  5. Pour and scoop some pasta.
  6. Mix some colors.
  7. Get dressed in sibling’s clothes.
  8. Turn up the music and dance
  9. Cuddle.
  10. Play with a water table with water or rice. pasta in the winter.
  11. Play with a light table
  12. Cut a slot in a container lid and drop dried pasta into it.
  13. Play dress up – use old Halloween costumes, clothes and hats.
  14. Find out will it sink or float?
  15. Blow bubbles.
  16. Have a toy car wash.
  17. Build a block tower.
  18. Knock it down.
  19. Write on the walls.
  20. Draw on the windows.
  21. Go for a swing.
  22. Go into a dark room and play with a flash light.
  23. Go for a walk .
  24. Make a tower out of pantry foods.
  25. Sing songs.
  26. Gather your dining chairs and play airplane.
  27. Help put away the dishes.
  28. Have a bath just for fun.
  29. Play store.
  30. Help with the laundry.
  31. Visit the pet store and see the fish and hamsters.
  32. Play mail carrier .
  33. Run.
  34. Brush teeth ( don’t knock it both my kids loved this)
  35. Take your baby dolls for a walk around the house.
  36. Play trains.
  37. Make playdough cupcakes, muffins and cookies.
  38. Walk the plank.
  39. Wear them while you( parent) hike.
  40. Call Grandparents on the phone and chat.
  41. Wrestle.
  42. Pretend to be animals and crawl, hop and pounce on the floor.
  43. Play at the playground.
  44. Collect rocks on a walk or shells on the beach.
  45. Go to the library.
  46. Explore a local garden center.
  47. Make playdough sculptures with popscicle sticks.
  48. Make a craft.
  49. Help with chores.
  50. Paint with water.
  51. Look through family photos.
  52. Hammer golf tees into foam.
  53. Color the patio.
  54. Have snack on a chair train ( in your kitchen)
  55. Make and play with discovery bottles.
  56. Play ball in the yard.
  57. Play with large magnets on the fridge, cookie sheets or like she is above the washer while mama folded laundry.
  58. Play with a dollhouse
  59. Color.
  60. Touch and Smell the fruits and veggies at the supermarket instead of just grabbing what you need.
  61. Play Duplo.
  62. Look for bugs under rocks.
  63. Rip and cut scrap paper.
  64. Do a puzzle.
  65. Go swimming.
  66. Paint.
  67. Paint with toy cars.
  68. Paint with blocks.
  69. Paint with toy animals.
  70. Play with instruments ( or just a big pot and a few wooden spoons).
  71. Water your plants.
  72. Play peek-a-boo.
  73. Go on a color hunt.
  74. Take every DVD out of the drawers and put them back in. This is completely child led at our house.
  75. Follow their play and see where it leads you.

* Note about the photos. They aren’t as high quality as I try for because all of them were taken with my phone while we were playing. Not for a post just regular pictures of what we do most days.

This post contains affiliate links.

Raising Boys Who Want To Read

 by Allison McDonald

I was reading this article from the Huffington Post while nursing my daughter over the weekend. After she drifted off to sleep I laid there next to her thinking about how we as educators, parents and adults in general handle our boys and what they choose to read. This is a fresh topic at our house because my son has started reading independently; while he is far from fluent, he can read simple “I Can Read” books alone if they interest him.

How do we get our boys interested in books?

Read to them starting from birth.

That is the most basic answer, but it’s not a complete one. Some kids won’t sit for books, while some need to be moving when taking in the information. Some simply don’t want to read. It looks hard; it looks confusing; and it makes them feel dumb when they can’t figure it out.

You have to make them want to figure it out – to conquer that desire to give up with a stronger desire to find out how to read so they can read something really cool.

So how do we make books worth the effort?

Teaching boys to love books doesn’t start when they are learning to read in kindergarten. It starts at birth by making books a daily part of their play time, not just bed time. Here are some strategies we’ve used :

We did many book festivals when my son was a toddler. We’d pile up a ton of books, jump on the bed or couch, and read. I always gave him the power to choose the books we read, which gave him a sense of control and allowed him to develop favorites and his own opinions. I wrote a post about how we discovered this strategy and how it came from my son’s inability to sit stuck snuggled on my lap to read as a toddler.

Make going to the library a regular activity. My son hates story time at the library, not because of the librarian (whom he is actually quite fond of ) but because he doesn’t want to sit and listen to the books she chooses. He wants to listen to the books he chooses. So if your child dislikes storytime don’t give up on the library. Try other times; let them choose their own books, and don’t just show them the kids section, show them all the adults reading too.

Which brings us to the next strategy: role models. Boys need to see the men in their life reading. As a stay at home mom whose husband works long hours with a long commute, I end up doing most of the reading, but it’s still easy to create wonderful role models even if time together isn’t abundant. I got my son and husband a subscription to Sports Illustrated to share. They read the articles together and have some “man time” reading it together. It gives them special time together while also promoting reading.

Let them choose their books, but steer them to widen their horizons too. My son is all about Batman so we scour the library for these books, some of which I am not fond of. But he is so excited about reading I think it’s more important to keep building that foundation of books being cool and developing his view of himself as a reader that I enthusiastically pop them in our basket. Don’t be quick to say no to a type of book . What your child might hear is you saying no to reading.

Another strategy is to let kids “break the rules” with books. I am not advocating stealing books or any other real rule breaking; what I am talking about is letting kids stretch out bedtime with some reading time of their choice.  We just started this with my son and it’s so thrilling to see him enjoying reading alone.

My last strategy is what I feel is my mission here at No Time For Flash Cards, which is to use books as the foundation for play. We go both ways, sometimes reading a book first and sometimes starting with play then finding the books to go along with it.  When my son read this Babar book with me last week  he immediately wanted to dress up like the soldiers, so we fashioned a costume , not just for the pretend play that followed but because it attached a positive association to reading,  it reiterated to him that reading is part of play.The statistics are frightful but we aren’t powerless. There are things we can do to help make reading and books accessible to young kids (especially reluctant readers) and yet again it comes back around to play. Hopefully with a strong foundation of trust in the enjoyment books provide the less enjoyable side of reading will be worth the effort.