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Let’s just get this out of the way- I’m a total nerd

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I used to be ashamed of it, but not anymore. I’m nerdy and I’m OK with it I love books. I love the library. I love talking pedagogy to anyone who will listen. Scrabble was my first love and will always have a special place in my heart <3

When I saw this canvas library tote bag I knew it was made for me. I HAD to have it. Not many people get excited about totes, but I do…

And based on how many of you guys asked me about my bag in my Instagram story today, I’m guessing lots of you are just as nerdy as me. You are my people.

So I’m leaving a quick review of the bag here for you. Hope it helps you make the decision wether you need it in your life or not.

The bag is an OK size. We can generally fit 10 picture books in it and the rest we have to hold in our actual hands or in my oversized mom purse. My recommendation would actually be to get two of these bags (or one for each child and then personalize them with their names!)

There’s also a small pocket for holding our library card, book receipts, and money for overdue books (#mylife).

Now for the features of the bag I don’t care for…

  • It sits a little too high in my armpit. Wish the stars were a tad longer.
  • It only holds 10 books (mentioning again because that is a downfall).
  • Every bibliophile on Earth will stop to ask you about your bag…but it’s a great way to meet new friends so I don’t really mind this.

That’s it. What’s your opinion of the bag? Love it? Not your thing? Getting as a gift for someone else? Let me know! And if you do get it for yourself share a pic of you flaunting it on Instagram (and tag me )

Get the Cutest Library Bag Ever HERE!

The post The BEST Library Bag! appeared first on Munchkins and Moms.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Dental Association

Time to brush!

It was about this time last year that our home preschool group took a field trip to the dentist’s office to learn more about dental health. My kids see the dentist twice a year for their check-ups, but seeing the dentist outside of a regular visit was something special. The kids were able to talk to both the dentist and dental assistants and ask questions about dental health.

We were so fortunate to have them teach our kids so many great facts about teeth! After that visit my kids learned that they should be brushing twice a day, for two minutes a day, and see the dentist regularly.

But having a healthy smile isn’t limited to those twos (two minutes, twice a day).
Practicing good oral health and learning why dental care is so important is something we try to do regularly. For example, when we eat, we talk about what foods can be harmful to our teeth, when we homeschool we learn about the different parts of our mouth, when we play we learn that some sports require mouthguards to protect our teeth.

I’ve found that the American Dental Association is a great source of information for thesediscussions (check them out online and print their brushing calendar to mind kids to brush and floss!). We decided to continue learning about healthy brushing habits by doing a fun experiment!

Supplies for Toothpaste and Brushing Experiment

● ADA-Accepted toothpaste*
● ADA-Accepted toothbrush*
● Hard-boiled egg
● Cup
● Dark soda and/or juice

* Check for the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the toothbrushes and toothpaste to know you’re getting a product that has been scientifically tested and is safe and effective for you and your family’s mouths.Read more about the ADA Seal on the American Dental Association’s website.

Toothpaste and Brushing Experiment

I explained to my kids that teeth and eggs both have hard outer shells that protect what’s inside. I told them that we were going to do an experiment to see what happens to that hard outer shell when it is exposed to dark sugary drinks, like soda and juice.
I hard-boiled a couple eggs and we submerged them in a glass of juice and soda overnight. My kids made predictions about what would happen to the shells.

The results after the overnight soak:

The eggshells were stained with black and brown colors – and not as strong! My kids thought they looked rotten. We talked about how when we drink sugary drinks, bacteria likes to feed on the leftover sugar on our teeth. When that happens, acid is made, and that’s what causes cavities in the hard outer shells on our teeth. Then we saw how the juice/soda ate away at the hard outer shell, making it weaker and also staining it. Not good. But we have a way to fight this with good oral hygiene!

We loaded up our toothbrushes with toothpaste and brushed the stains away!

While doing the experiment we also talked how prevention is best- we should limit the amount of sweet drinks for the best oral and physical health possible.

I don’t think this is an experiment my kids will soon forget! As a matter of fact, my youngest had juice during breakfast and immediately asked to brush his teeth afterward. I think the images of the stained egg shells are still fresh on his mind!

The post Toothpaste and Brushing Experiment appeared first on Munchkins and Moms.

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Who else plans on sitting at the kids’ table during the big game today?

Just me? I’m cool with that. I am NOT a football fan. I would much rather be sitting with the kid doing arts and crafts than watching the game.

Today I was struck with some very last-minute inspiration when I saw the cardboard box that the Gatorade’s were sitting in at the grocery store. It was the perfect box for marble art. And today was the perfect day for some painting!

Supplies for Football Art Activity

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Shallow box or shoebox lid

Brown paint

Marble

Green construction paper

White crayon

Popsicle sticks

Glue

How to put it together

Ok, I admit the supply list is much longer than my usual activities, but they are pretty basic supplies. I mean, I’m doing this on Super Bowl Sunday and didn’t need to get any extra supplies from the store. You’ve got this.

I drew white lines down two green pieces of paper. You can mark them with official looking field markings, but that was too much work for me

Then I taped the papers to the box and added some brown paint and a marble.

Last I made some goalposts with popsicle sticks and glued them in the box.

That’s it. Activity prep done and ready to go!

How to Paint

This is one of the easiest art activities! It’s called Marble Art. The way to paint is by shaking up the box so the marble drags paint across the paper. Easy peasy fun!

This can be a two person activity by having one person hold each end of the box and working together to get the paint across the field.

Or it can be a solo activity by having one child hold the box and shaking it up themselves!

Isn’t that fun?!? Once the paint dries kids can hang their picture on the fridge with pride… and probably make another one because it’s just so easy and addicting to make art this way

The post Football Art Activity appeared first on Munchkins and Moms.

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We had a few leftover heart stickers after last week’s I Can Feel my Heart Beat science lesson, so I decided to use them in a quick newspaper letter hunt!

The activity was super simple to set-up.  All I used was newspaper and heart stickers. Bam. Done. Preschool fun and learning set up in less than a minute!

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The goal of the activity was to find as many letter H’s as possible and stick a heart on each one (H is for Heart).

Of course this activity promoted letter identification, but it was also great for visual discrimination skills, fine motor development, and preschool busy work (just being real. I’ve got to have something for my kids to do while I make lunch!).

The great thing is my preschooler actually really loved doing this! He was concentrating so hard looking for as many H’s as possible. He even used up the rest of the heart stickers to finish it!

Ways to extend this activity:

  • Count the number of H’s on each page.
  • Compare- were there more uppercase H’s or lowercase ones?
  • Use H stickers instead of hearts.

Looking for a few more heart activities to plan for February? Try some of these:

Got a Valentine’s Day or heart themed activity you want to share with me? Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram

The post H is for Heart Activity appeared first on Munchkins and Moms.

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Be still my heart…

No literally. Be still son. I just want to snap one picture! If I’ve learned anything as a boy mom, it’s that I need a super fast shutter speed to capture pictures of my little loves <3  Today was no different, so I’m glad I had my camera ready beforehand so I could share some quick pictures of our fun preschool science lesson.

Today we did an impromptu activity using some heart stickers I found at the bottom of our craft stash. I knew my boys didn’t really care for hearts and I was about to throw them out when I was struck by Cupid’s arrow of inspiration (he totally has those, right?)

Hands-On Heartbeat Science

I decided to use a few of the stickers to teach my son about his heartbeat. We would play a quick game of “can you feel your heart here?” While he marked each spot he felt a heartbeat with stickers! We of course started with his hand on his heart.

Next, we tested his neck. Could he be still for long enough to feel his heartbeat there? Yes!

We marked the spot with a sticker (using the sticker to mark the spots where he felt his heartbeat was a great way to make a bodily-kinesthetic connection to learning! It helped him remember the lesson long after it was over).

He also tested his wrist, which was the trickiest spot to feel for!

And we tested silly places like his nose, toes, and ears. No heartbeats there! That gave us a minute to pause and reflect- why could he feel his heart beating in some spots but not others?

I explained that his blood was being pumped from his heart into the rest of his body and the heartbeat he felt was called a pulse. Some places are easier to find a pulse than others. We headed to YouTube for a better visual explanation.

We watched this video, which was good (although much of it did go over his head).

Nonetheless, I felt like this short lesson was a win and a fun Valentine’s Day spin on heart activities!

You might also like:

And don’t forget to check out my new book!

The post I Can Feel My Heartbeat appeared first on Munchkins and Moms.

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Are you ready to start teaching your preschoolers scissor skills?

Do you know where to start?

As a teacher, one of the first things I would do before starting a new unit was assess prior knowledge. Figuring out how much my students already knew so I could build on that and promote new learning.

Most of the time those assessments were informal and took place in the form of whole-class questions. Occasionally, I needed more information than the informal assessments provided and I would measure their knowledge some other way.

This preschooler scissor skills assessment came directly out of my new book, A Year of Scissor Activites- Monthly Cutting Projects for Preschoolers.

The assessment gives parents and teachers a place to start with their kids. It provides valuable information about what your kids already know and provides direction on where they are headed.

Get the assessment here

How to use the assessment

First, print out an assessment for each student. Take each child aside individually and provide paper and child-friendly scissors to cut with.

Begin the assessment by letting the child cut as he or she desires, without any instruction. Make notes and answer any questions you can based on those initial observations.

You may also choose to provide directions/prompts to complete the assessment, such as asking the child if they can cut out a frame from a rectangle paper, or draw a zigzag line and asking them to cut it.

What to do after assessing

After the assessment is complete, you’ll want to take note on where to start teaching. Is your child still working on scissor safety and proper grip? Are they efficiently snipping, but need more practice with the continual cutting motion? Look for several activities that target those skills in a fun, developmentally appropriate manner to reach them where they are.

(Also, make sure to date the assessment and keep it in a safe place to compare progress later in the year.)

Where to find scissor skill activities

We all know Pinterest is a GOLD MINE for preschool activities, but sometimes going through each pin and activity takes more time than you have available. If so, I invite you to take a look at my “Scissor Skills” Pinterest board to narrow down some choices.

Still need more direction and help planning monthly activities? I’ve got that covered, too. My book, A Year of Scissor Activites- Monthly Cutting Projects for Preschoolers, has over 40 activities organized for you by month!

Each month contains three activities (one for beginner, intermediate, and advanced cutters), so you know you’ll find the right activity for your little learner any time of year.

The activities are planned to promote MASTERY of scissor skills- going beyond paper and dotted line practice.

Learn more about the book here Need a few more pointers before getting started?

Check out my Tips for Teaching Scissor Skills here.

Ready to get started? Grab the FREE Assessment here!

Not ready to start just yet? That’s OK too! Just make sure to pin this idea for later <3

The post Preschool Scissor Skills Assessment appeared first on Munchkins and Moms.

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When you live in the middle of nowhere, you tend to drive A LOT

Even a trip to Walmart takes an hour and can be a dangerous adventure (temps of thirty degrees below zero and icy roads make it a life-or-death situation!)

You know what else makes it a life or death situation, though? Traveling long distances with kids. They swear that we are torturing them by making them do long trips with no electronic devices. And for the record that are only 4 and 5 years old.

So what do we keep in the backseat for those long drives? Here’s a list of things we have a few things that have been recommended to us:

Small I  Spy Books 

We have a few different versions of these books. They are small and make the perfect backseat entertainment!

Magnetic Games

We don’t have any of these yet, but a few mamas on Instagram recommended them to us. Have your kids tried them before? Were they a hit or miss?

Water Wow Books

I have been told to get these over and over and over again. I was supposed to add them into the boys’ stockings this year, but totally forgot. Maybe they’ll end up in Easter baskets instead!


Little Dover Books

I totally love allllll the different Little Dover Books available! I stash a few in my purse for restaurant entertainment, too.


Find It Games

Another fun I Spy activity for the backseat wee ones.

Scavenger Hunt Cards

The classic backseat activity in card form.

Small Clip Board and Paper

Simple and entertaining for my kids!

Binoculars 

A must for long or short drives. My kids love having their binoculars handy when we drive!

Chewy Necklace

My oldest son suffers from anxiety and sensory processing disorder. He has a tendency to chew on his clothes, so this chewy alternative is a requirement for him!

Lego Suitcase

This could be tricky while driving, but it makes a super fun activity during pit stops and hotel stays!

What are your kids’ must-have items for backseat entertainment?

The post The Best Road Trip Activities for Kids! appeared first on Munchkins and Moms.

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