Target Gift Card Giveaway Winner Announced!

And the winner (chosen by rafflecopter) is…..

#202 Chesnye!

Casey and I are so excited to give you this gift Chesnye!!!!

When I emailed Chesnye this morning, I got to learn a little about this awesome mommy teacher….

 She is a stay-at-home mom with two little ones.  She says: “My son will be 3 in September and my daughter is 16 weeks.  I love to do crafts and science activities with my son and we do a lot of crafts based on the books we read!  I love that I get to be his full time teacher for the time being; we start preschool curriculum (at home) in 2 weeks!  I also love that he tries to teach his baby sister things he has learned!  Let’s me know that things are sticking!”

She sounds so deserving of this prize!

Thanks Casey for hosting this giveaway!  All you Mommy Teachers would appreciate the Kidspired Creations that Casey customizes and personalizes for sale….so go shopping!

I posted a status on my Facebook Page polling some Mommy Teachers to find out where they shop most or would like to shop more, and the majority ruled in favor of…..

Casey and I were both Early Childhood teachers so we remember the days of Teacher Appreciation week 🙂

Not many mommies get the apple they deserve for being the primary teacher of their own child SO Casey and I are awarding one lucky winner with a $50 Target Gift Card!

The giveaway ends this Friday, August 3rd at midnight and the winner will be announced Saturday.

Just go through the Rafflecopter steps to enter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We Can All Learn From This Mommy Teacher….Casey From Kidpired Creations!

Hi!  It’s Casey, stopping by from Kidspired Creations once again!  My husband and I have recently discovered the game Bananagrams and it has instantly become a family favorite!  Even my boys (5 and 2) love to play as well… they just play with a different set of rules… Mommy Teacher rules!

If you are not familiar with Bananagrams, it’s a banana-shaped bag filled with Scrabble tiles and, like Scrabble, there are tons of the most frequently used letters in the alphabet (i.e. vowels) and several of the less frequent ones.  This makes building words easier than when you just buy a single pack of 26 letters from the kid’s section at a store because you are able to make words that have double letters, or several words that use the same letters at once.  As you can probably imagine, there are endless ways you can use these tiles to work on basic reading and spelling skills.

One of the building blocks to learning to read is being able to break words into syllables.  As expert readers, we do this when we come to a long word, but we are able to do this because we were taught this skill.  I notice myself doing this when I am typing out a long word in an e-mail quite

Refresher course:  what is a syllable?  A syllable is recognized by the presence of a VOWEL SOUND in a word.  For instance, the word “baby” has two syllables ( because of the presence of the long “A” and long “E” sound in the word.  Be careful, some vowel sounds are hard to hear, like the “schwa” sound in the word “table”/ˈtābəl/. <-That upside down e is called a “schwa.”  It sounds like “uh” and YES it’s a vowel sound.  But, I digress…

My oldest son, James, has already mastered sounding out/reading simple CVC (consonant/vowel/consonant) words like “cat,” and bigger compound words like “bedroom” (Jess teaches about compound words here), so now I am moving on to larger polysyllabic words (words with more than one syllable).  These words will be easier for him to read if he separates them into different syllables and reads them individually, but first, I need to teach him how to count syllables.

Clapping out syllables is a great way for kids to be able to HEAR the number of syllables in a word:  BED (clap)  ROOM (clap).  I suggest starting off with simple compound words (cupcake, doghouse, rainbow) because they are made up of two monosyllabic (containing 1 syllable) words, thus it is easier to hear the separate syllables.

Another great way to count syllables is to use objects such as pennies to represent each different syllable.  This helps kids to be able to SEE the number of syllables in a word:  cup.cake = 2 pennies.  Point to each penny as you say each syllable separately.

James found objects around the house

that only have 1 syllable:

car, ball, shoe (though it’s really a slipper),

cap, rock, dice, car (again)

You can also teach your child to FEEL syllables by having him place his hand under his chin as he says the word slowly.  With each syllable that he says out loud, his chin will make his hand move down.  The only problem with this is that some sounds (like the schwa) do not make your chin move, so when I say “table” while teaching this technique it sounds more like “tay-ball”… I over-exaggerate each word and make funny faces when I say it.

When your child has begun to understand the concept of syllables, you can start visually breaking down words into syllables by using the Bananagrams tiles.  Start with words that have short vowel sounds like “exact” (ex.act) or words that are monosyllabic that become polysyllabic when you make it past tense such as “started” (start.ed).

Just for fun, I broke down the word “hippopotamus” because our dog’s name is Hippo.  Notice how James sounded it out “hippo.pot.[long A].mus” and I did not correct him.  Once he put the word together he automatically fixed the “long A” to the schwa sound.  Give your kids a chance; they might surprise you with the things they can figure out without Mommy’s help!

Thanks, Jess, for letting me hop onto your blog!  Please visit my Kidspired Creations blog for affordable, customizable and kidspirational art!  I also frequently post DIY projects and party ideas!  Also, please stop by my personal blog about My Kidspiration and all the hilariousness that comes with raising two boys and a baby girl!

The 3rd Shareworthy Game From Casey’s Top 5

Hi! It’s Casey stopping by from Kidspired Creations once again!
Here is the third of my TOP 5 (scratch that) 6! games for Pre-Schoolers:
Ages 2+ (according to the box, 8+, but we can adapt)
My husband is not only great at all things math-related, but can easily calculate numbers in his head. He doesn’t credit good study skills or a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering for his number genius, he credits the many hours he spent playing Dominoes with his grandfather. I, on the other hand, played with my dominoes by stacking and building houses and though I use a calculator for even simple math, my creative side dominates. It’s no surprise then that Dominoes is one of my favorite games for helping to develop BOTH sides of the brain.
Ages 2+: Let your child have fun stacking and knocking the dominoes down. There are endless ways to build them (vertical, horizontal, or both). If you get creative enough, you can use play dough balls and create your own 3D Angry Birds game!
Pre-School Learning Skills
  • Fine motor skill development (turning dominoes around in one hand, stacking and balancing)
  • Hand-Eye coordination
  • Imaginary Play
  • Spacial Awareness
  • Creative design
  • Sharing
Ages 3+: Use picture Dominoes to develop matching skills. Disney makes some fun Princess, Handy Manny, Cars (and more) Domino sets where you match characters together, instead of matching dots.
Even at this “big kid” age, keep building! No need to always follow the rules to the game. Let your child’s imagination run wild as he/she builds houses, mazes, bridges and more! Another idea is to line dominoes up to make different patterns (horizontal, vertical, horizontal, vertical…).
Pre-School Learning Skills
  • Pre-Math Skills (matching and patterns)
  • Hand-Eye coordination (balancing)
  • Fine Motor Skills (stacking and building)
  • Imaginary Play
  • Spacial Awareness
  • Creative design
  • Sharing
Ages 4+: Introduce Double 6 Dominoes and begin teaching the rules to simple Domino games. Continue to do the same activities as before because, well, it’s still fun!
Pre-School Learning Skills
  • Counting
  • Addition and subtraction (depending on the game)
  • Matching
  • Number awareness (understanding the relationship between numbers and amount of dots)
  • Problem Solving
  • Strategy
  • Taking turns
  • (All the other skills mentioned above)

Even When School Starts, You are Still a Mommy Teacher

Hey, Mommy Teachers! It’s Casey, stopping by from Kidspired Creations! Well, this week ended an era for me as my oldest son, James’, primary teacher because he started Pre-K on Monday! I have been flooded with crazy emotions: sad that my baby is all grown up, ecstatic that I will only have 1 kid at home during the day, tired because this is the first time we have had to use an alarm in the mornings, excited to hear about all of his new adventures and friends, nervous that he’ll make poor choices without me, proud that he’s made amazing choices so far, giddy when the teacher tells me how smart he is, overwhelmed with the thought that he will now be in school until his mid-twenties at least, blessed when I pick him up and he runs to me saying, “I love you, Mommy!” and PUMPED when he complained, “Mommy, where’s my homework?

I realized that I can still be a Mommy Teacher even though James is in big boy school now! I must have known this earlier because I bought him a few school supplies for his 4th birthday in July (even though his school only requires him to have 1 folder and a blanket for nap time). As soon as he got home he went straight to his cool school kiddie corner to grab his notebook and pencil case. He asked me to make him some homework (here is where I started beaming :-D).

4 times each because he’s 4 years old. His rule.

1st Day
Looking through his art that his teacher sent home from school on the first day, I noticed that she had written his name on top of each paper with a highlighter and someone had traced his name with a pencil. I say someone because it was way too neat to be my son. Maybe the teacher helped guide his hand when tracing, but it was just way too neat. So I decided the first thing on our homework agenda was to practice writing his name.

As you can see, I wrote his name in highlighter, and he traced it. To teach him to always write from top-bottom, left-right, I sometimes had to draw a dot where he was supposed to start, and a dot where he was supposed to stop and pick up his pencil. This is a great way to teach directionality and print awareness. As you can see, he needs a little help working on writing dark enough. Putting pressure on his hands to show him how hard he was supposed to press helped, but writing lightly is a hard habit to break.

Next it was time to do some math! James has been dying to use his new super cool Cars ruler and he finally got his opportunity. He already understands that “inches” is a form of measurement and he constantly “measures” things in inches: “Mom, my foot is 18 inches!” “Mom, my scooter is 20 inches.” “Mom, this blanket is one hundred and ninety hundred and one thousand inches.” So I decided to shake things up a bit and teach him the difference between inches and centimeters.

I drew several lines of different lengths and he had to measure them using the centimeters side of the ruler. Then I drew the number he gave me using the highlighter and he had to trace it. (Very important to measure the lines first and make them have a length that comes to an exact whole number.) And guess what? Even in math we still practiced fine motor skill development (handwriting), directionality, and print awareness (again) in addition to measurement and number recognition.

Oh, and for every answer he got right, he got a piece of candy. It was snack time, after all, and my kids found my secret stash of candy, so we all 3 dove in! (Please don’t judge, my kids rarely eat candy, but as soon as they found my favorite candy, well, I wanted it too). It really made it exciting for him when he got the answer right or traced a letter well.

2nd Day

James has NEVER been enthusiastic about writing, drawing, or coloring. So when he comes home from school EXCITED to do homework, I definitely don’t want to make it too boring for him. So since we practiced his name yesterday, today I had him just work on one letter. Naturally, I chose the letter Aa.

He traced the uppercase “A” four times, lowercase “a” four times, then came up with four words that start with an A. He came up with “alligator, apple, and & ant.”

For Math we learned about squares and rectangles. He was able to tell me the difference between the two but he couldn’t describe WHY they are different.

Me: “Now how many sides does a square have?”
James: “1, 2, 3, 4.”
Me: “And how many does a rectangle have?
James: “It has 4 too!”
Me: “So if they both have 4 sides, how are they different?”
James: “Hmmm that’s a good question, Mom.”

So we took out our favorite school tool, the ruler, again. He measured the sides of the square and the sides of the rectangle and was then able to tell me the length of the sides.

James: “This one is 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 inches and this one is 2 and 2 and 6 and 6 inches!”

Then it clicked… * “Oooooh the rectangle has two sides that are longer!” Now he has the language to describe why one shape differs from another which is a higher-order thinking skill: he isn’t just understanding that there is a difference between the shapes, he is analyzing WHY the two are different. Then he got to draw his own rectangle and his own square from memory.

We also incorporated what we learned about the letter “Aa” by searching, identifying, circling and tracing the letter in each of the words square and rectangle.

So, on DAY 2 we covered letter recognition, phonemic awareness, fine motor skill development (writing), print awareness, directionality, shapes, measurement, and language development.

3rd Day
Well, with school comes germs, so we are home sick. New emotions: frustrated that we didn’t even last a whole week without catching somebodies ickies, and very snuggly, if snuggly was an emotion.

Still wearing his sticker he got from school yesterday.

However, as soon as my youngest went down for a nap, James pulled out his school supplies… this time his markers. I drew several over-sized crayons onto paper and wrote different color names on them. James then had to sound out each of the words: “/r/ /e/ /d/… RED!” and then he had to find the red marker to color the red crayon. “/y/ /e/ /l/ /l/ /o/ /w/ Yelulahwuh! YELLOW!” Yup, a little trickier since the sounds changed up at the end. “/o/ /r/ /a/ /n/ /g/ /e/… um… what does THAT say?” Haha that one can trip anyone up! Here’s where we had a mini-lesson: “James, the letters o and r together say /or/. Can you think of a color that starts with /or/?

Was the goal of this lesson to get James to sound out each word? No. The reason is that most of these words break the standard sound rules that he knows. This was a step in being able to recognize these sight words, words that we know how to read because we have memorized the shape the words make, and not by sounding them out. He was also able to learn to use reading clues to help him guess the word. “What color starts with /g/ and ends in /n/?” By modeling these types of questions for kids, they will learn to do the same thing when reading, or when solving problems in general!

So what’s next on our homework agenda? Well, when more school work comes home I may get a better idea on what they are learning day-to-day, but for now, we will continue to work on the rest of the alphabet (both letter names and sounds) number recognition, making patterns, rhyming, language development, fine motor skill development (writing, using scissors, playing with play dough), measurement, compare/contrast and more!

And we’ll definitely work on drawing…

“We are in a rocket ship.” Apparently.
For a look at Louisiana Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) for Pre-K:
From the Louisiana Department of Education
For more about my adventures raising 2 boys, please visit my personal blog
“My Kidspiration: A Tale of 2 Kiddies”
And for more about Kidspired Creations:

10 Fun Things to do with Mr. Potato Head

Hi Mommy Teachers! It’s Casey stopping over from Kidspired Creations! As a former Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher, and a current stay-at-home mommy, I always try to think of different ways I can approach play time to make it a great learning experience too!

Today, we invited Mr. Potato Head to join in on our fun. My boys and I were all sitting around MPH and adding different parts to his head. He looked like a monster with an arm sticking out of his eye socket, eyes where his feet should go and a nose in each ear. As I watched my boys, James (turning 4 next week), was holding MPH and bossing Leyson (20 months) about what he should do with the nose in his hand.

I then turned this into a learning opportunity about sharing. I took all of the parts off of MPH and then told the boys that they can only put one body part in at a time and then it was Brother’s turn. An eye in for James, a nose in for Leyson, then back to James. See what kind of a cool monster we can make together!

This reminded me of a time that I subbed for a 2nd grade classroom. I had the students all participate in creating a monster that I drew on the board based on their descriptions. They each told me one thing to describe what the monster looked like and I added that to our drawing. I then had each student write a paper describing in complete detail what the monster looked like so that anyone who had not seen the monster that I drew could draw the same monster on their own. (What? The teacher didn’t leave a lesson plan for me and I taught the wee little ones… no clue what to do with 2nd graders).

So I asked James to describe the monster to me: “MPH has a huge blue muscles on his arm that is sticking out where his nose should be.”

Then, I got to thinking… how else can we learn with Mr. Potato Head?
Here are my top 10 ways that you can join in on the fun!

(We made up a story about Mr. Potato Head’s adventures as a Firefighter)
Mommy: “If MPH is a firefighter, what is he going to use to smell if there is smoke?”
Child: “Nose!”
Mommy: “Great! What is he going to use to hear if people need his help?”
(My little one was having trouble putting the parts into the little holes, but after a few tries, he became a pro!)
(Placement and Name Recognition)
Easy: “Where is the nose?” (baby points)
Harder: “Is this a nose?” (baby says “yes” or “no”…or nods or shakes)
Even Harder: “Is this a nose or mouth?” (baby says “nose”)
Hardest: “What is this body part?” (baby says “nose”)
Mommy: “This part helps keep his head warm when it’s cold.”
Child: “A hat!”
Mommy: “This next body part rhymes with ‘south.'”
Child: “Mouth!”



Place 1 pair of eyes, 1 nose, 2 ears, 2 arms, 1 mouth, 1 hat, 1 mustache and 1 pair of shoes in a bag. Have your child reach his/her hand in the bag without looking and grab one body part. They must then guess which part they have in their hand.

Now, if you don’t have a Mr. Potato Head, he’s everywhere… in fact, he pretty much has his own website where you can search for all of the different Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head kits available. ENJOY!!!

A special THANK YOU to the ultimate Mommy Teacher, Jessica, for allowing me to share my playtime experiences with every one!

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