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    Starting a Family Newsletter: A Fun Quarantine Activity

    Starting a Family Newsletter

    It took a virus to slow us down.  The coronavirus pandemic has brought our frantic pace of living to a screeching halt. Practicing social distancing at home with my family has allowed me time to evaluate the things in my life that matter the most. In short, COVID-19 has changed my perspective of living in the most unexpected and meaningful ways, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

    As a result of being safe at home, I decided to start a family newsletter to journal our quarantine experience.  We are currently making history right now and I want to remember how we spent these precious days together.

    Each day my kids take turns being the “journalist” of the day.  They write down things like: what we did each day, the meals we ate, who we prayed for, quotes, the best moment of the day and anything new each person in the family learned.  We also include any pictures taken each day. At the end of the month I type up the newsletter and print it out as a keepsake.

    I think it will be fun for us to look back years from now and remember how we bonded during a time when our usual activities were put on hold. Plus, this family activity helps to improve my children’s writing, communication and typing skills. A win-win for the whole family.

    If you’re looking for a fun family activity that will keep each member of your family engaged, start your own family newsletter. Give it a catchy title, come up with a design and then start creating content.

    What kind of content should you put in family newsletter?

    Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

    Family recipes
    Your family tree
    Recent achievements
    Memorable moments
    Birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, birth announcements, celebrations
    Historical facts
    Trivia questions
    Funny jokes
    Family quotes
    Prayers

    Every member of the household can make contributions to the newsletter. Even a preschooler can dictate what he or she remembers most about the past month, year or quarter. Or you can ask little ones to draw their favorite memories.

    How often your newsletter comes out depends how much news – and time – you have to put in. A once-a-month newsletter was our choice. You could also choose to have a quarterly or once-a-year newsletter you publish around the holidays.

    If you’re looking for a simple and cost effective activity, starting a newsletter can be an effective way of strengthening connections between family members. Why not give it a try?

    Your turn: Does your family have a newsletter? How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your perspective about life and living? Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books, children's literacy, family fun, read aloud

    20 Black Parents to Follow on Instagram Who Instill a Love of Reading in Their Children

    20 Black Families to Follow on Instagram Who Instill a Love of Reading in Their Children

    As a parent, I’m obsessed with cultivating a love of reading in my children. It’s one of my favorite things about my parenthood journey thus far. Before becoming a parent, I read countless books and studies that have proven the many benefits of reading. I knew before having children that I wanted to instill a love of reading in them starting at birth. I take pride in seeing how well both of my children read (and write) and how they often choose to pick up a book and read on their own without being told to.

    When it comes to children, the ideal time to begin sharing books with them is during infancy, even as young as six weeks old (or sooner). From early on, children should own books, be read to often and see others reading and writing.  Children are rapidly learning language.  They often quadruple the number of words they know between the ages of 1-2.  Therefore, as parents and caregivers it’s crucial to read aloud with them often to increase their vocabulary.

    Below I’ve rounded up 20 Black parents I follow on Instagram who value reading and work to instill a love of reading in their children. These parents get it and understand the importance of establishing a reading habit with their children early on. I thought some of you may be interested in following some of these people as well for inspiration, tips and Black family joy!

    1. Me @hereweeread

    2. @jeanellnicolereads

    3. @rattlesandheels

    4. @mymotherhoodmagic

    5. @_colorful_stories

    6. @justmeomaya

    7. @imsuzettesays

    8. @readlikearockstar

    9. @apron_education

    10. @schoolathomeandbeyond

    11. @polishedplayhouse

    12. @puzzlehuddle

    13. @rahmarodaah

    14. @thevitamindproject

    15. @mayasbooknook

    16. @mommyweek

    17. @firstname.basis

    18. @twolightsacademy

    19. @arethoseyourkids

    20. @mybusybeesandme

    Your turn: Did this list help you discover new people to follow? Who are some of your favorite Black parents to follow on Instagram who value the importance of reading with their children? Feel free to share in the comments as I’m always looking for new like-minded people to connect with.

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    children's books, family fun

    31 Days of Women’s History: Download this Printable To Celebrate Women (and Girls) Who Persisted

    March is Women’s History Month – a time to celebrate the accomplishments of women trailblazers and also inspire a new generation of young women and men. How do you plan to celebrate Women’s History Month this year? I hope some of you will take time this month to post about women on social media, share women’s stories with family and friends, and ensure that women’s impact on history and society is valued and commemorated.

    31 Days of Women's History Printable

    Just like last month for our Black History Month printable, we are celebrating again with another coloring printable!

    To create this printable, I collaborated with Briana James of Notebooks and Nibbles, a talented Art student who reached out to me on Instagram and Latoria Williams from 1FirstCashAdvance online lending company, an open-heart woman who loves to support people. She’s currently building up her portfolio and asked to collaborate. I gladly accepted her offer after seeing her amazing work! Get in touch with Briana, give her a follow on Instagram, and support her as she continues to build up her art portfolio. It was such a pleasure to work with her and help support her at the same time.

    This coloring printable is a fun way to celebrate 31 days of diverse, inspirational, female leaders. It features women and girls who are strong and brave leaders, authors, politicians, inventors, humanitarians, women’s rights activists, and activists for other causes. You can enjoy this coloring page printed in various sizes from 8.5 X 11 up to 24 X 36 if you’d like jumbo poster size.

    Each day during the month of March (or any time of the year), color in one woman until the whole poster is complete. If there are books written about any the women, feel free to read them on your own or with your little readers. Otherwise, take time to research any of the women you may not be familiar with.

    31 Days of Women's History Printable

    Some of the women featured include: Jacqueline Woodson, Anna May Wong, Maria Tallchief, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Wangari Maathai, Jazz Jennings, Mari Copeny, Michelle Wie and more!

    Happy Reading & Researching!

    CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS PRINTABLE!

    CHECK OUT MORE OF MY RESOURCES (INCLUDING MY POPULAR PRINTABLE READING JOURNAL) ON MY NEW TEACHER’S PAY TEACHERS WEBSITE AND GIVE ME A FOLLOW OVER THERE TOO.

    AS ALWAYS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

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    family fun, parenting

    The Library of Things: Amazing Free Perks Your Local Library May Offer


    Today libraries offer library card holders so much more than just something to read. For anyone on a budget, there are amazing perks and services available to take advantage of with your library card.

    For example, my daughter learned how to use the sewing machine for free at our local library. They made adorable fabric place mats and she’s so proud of how hers turned out. Although she already knows how to sew by hand, I also signed her up for the hand sewing class at the library.

    Here are some of the other perks and resources available at different libraries across the country:

    • Check out tools from the tool-lending library
    • Check out toys for children ages 2-6
    • Discounted or free passes to local attractions
    • Foreign language classes
    • Seed library to try out seeds in your garden or windowsill planter
    • Borrow infrared thermometers to improve the efficiency of your home
    • Try out podcasting microphones and equipment
    • Borrow board games
    • Learn a new skill by taking free courses online
    • Borrow knitting needles for your next knitting project
    • Check out a telescope!  (My local library has one you can check out and borrow)

    When I asked my Instagram community for some things their libraries offered, here are a few responses I received:

    I checked out a telescope!

    We’ve checked out power tools for home projects.

    All time favorite library experience was the library that will order any book from Amazon and have it delivered to your house if they don’t already have it at the library and then you just turn it into the library when you’re done! Who knew!!

    My local library has a 3D printer and some amazing kids STEM activities!

    The most unique thing we offer is dinner and a movie at the library. The library is transformed into a restaurant with decorations, candles, music playing, etc. Our teen volunteers work as servers.

    We checked out a state parks pass from our library to go camping for free.

    We LOVE our library! We’ve checked out board games, video games, toy kits (like musical instruments and building blocks), and even a coding robot! Ours now offers local museum and zoo passes to check out too, which is great for families with a tighter budget.

    We do so many great activities at our local library from having a Pinterest live class, learning macrame to making 80’s crafts. I love trivia nights. I have learned how to knit with my arms. We had adult science night and we had fun making rockets and testing them on a summer night.

    Our library has a “nature backpack” with a parking pass to the state parks, animal and plant ID books, and binoculars.

    My daughter went to a week of summer camp at the library. The theme was Spellbound. They did all sorts of magical activities: writing in invisible ink, making wands, and reading stories about magical creatures.

    Ours offer free tutoring to children, by certified teachers, during the week and on Saturdays. Our public libraries also offer movie nights, and theater performances. Without their help I couldn’t have the books, audio books, music and films my students enjoy in the classroom. I’m so grateful for public libraries!

    At my previous library gig we offered circulating bakeware! It was a lovely way for people to test different baked goods or create a treat for a loved one (or themselves!) without having to pay 20 to 30 dollars to procure the baking dish. We made some delicious cake donuts using a donut pan from the library.

    We love our library. Next week we are taking a Toddler Music Class in Spanish at our library.

    As you can see, you don’t have to be an avid reader to enjoy everything the library has to offer.  I encourage you to check with your local library and see if they also have a Library of Things you can check out besides books and audiobooks.

    Your turn: Are you a regular library user? Let me know the most unusual or interesting thing you ever did or checked out from a library.

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    family fun

    Halloween 2019: The Costumes Our Family Wore


    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something. Please check out my disclosure policy for more details. All opinions are my own!

     

    Dressing up for Halloween isn’t just for kids—our family (excluding my husband) enjoys making it a family affair.  Maybe one year I’ll get my husband to dress up with us as an entire family.  Wishful thinking?  Maybe.  Halloween just isn’t his thing and that’s okay.  As for me and the kids, I like to come up with creative and inexpensive costumes each year.  Check out our 2019 Halloween costumes below.

    MADISON AS A WORK OF ART

    Let’s just all agree my daughter Madison stole the show!  There is nothing better than a creative and inexpensive costume that will turn heads.  Amiright?! My daughter and I had this costume picked out since last Halloween after scrolling on Pinterest for unique ideas.  Once I saw this costume, how simple it was to re-create and how much my daughter loved it, I knew it would be a winner and it was!  Everyone absolutely LOVED her costume and she received so many compliments.

    To re-create this costume.  Grab a t-shirt, a picture frame from The Dollar Tree and a little non-toxic face makeup and you’re done.  We ordered this t-shirt and this non-toxic face makeup.

    BARRINGTON AS WALDO

    Who says Waldo can’t be a Black boy?  This Where’s Waldo costume for kids absolutely KILLS me and I LOVE it!  It was my hope that at least one of the kids would be a bookish character so I was thrilled when my son chose to be Waldo.  Barrington loves all of the books in the Where’s Waldo series so it was only fitting to pair his costume with the latest Waldo book for Halloween.

    To re-create this costume.  We ordered this Where’s Waldo costume.  We also used a pair of blue jeans and black boots that my son already owned.

    CHARNAIE AS THE GIVING TREE

    If you’re feeling crafty and you love books.  This Halloween costume may be for you (hello, DIY!).

    When it comes to Halloween costumes, I’ve always been the do-it-yourself type. Mainly because I don’t like the selection of costumes I see in stores. Especially for women and girls. But also because I like to create.  I’m not sewing savvy enough (yet) to make a whole costume from scratch, but adding little pieces or DIY-ing certain parts? Oh yeah. I can handle that.  That’s why I was all over this costume when I saw the idea online.

    This costume was super simple to create. I bought this plain green t-shirt and these green jeggings.  Green felt, red felt, white letters, a foam board and a dowel from Micheal’s, and a headband from The Dollar Tree. I cut out some leaves and an apple and done! I grabbed our copy of The Giving Tree off our bookshelf to complete the look.

    Sharing Halloween with your kids, whether they’re babies, toddlers, or older kids can be such a fun experience especially when you’re all dressed up and feeling festive.

    So, take your pick from these Halloween costume ideas or come up with your own to create happy memories on Halloween night!

    Which of the Halloween costumes listed above would you like to try (if any)? Tell us in the comments section!

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    coloring books, family fun, giveaways

    The Kids’ Book of Paper Love + A Giveaway!


    Disclaimer: Workman Publishing sent me a copy to check out and is partnering with me for a giveaway!

     

    THE KIDS’ BOOK OF PAPER LOVE
    From the editors of Flow magazine
    by Irene Smit & Astrid Van Der Hulst
    Release October 15th, 2019
    Recommend ages 7-14

    About the Book

    A surprise on every page!

    Brimming from cover to cover with projects and other paper surprises, The Kids’ Book of Paper Love, from the bestselling editors of Flow magazine and books, is a bounty of a book that begs to be folded, cut up, collaged, doodled on, and shared.

    Loop paper strips into a paper chain. Snip out bookmarks. Fold a paper house. Make photo booth props—a silly mustache, a crown—to pose with friends. Bind up a DIY storybook and use it to sketch out adventures and dreams. Construct a paper flower bouquet, a paper terrarium, a fortune-teller with prompts like Lend someone a book and tell them why you recommend it.

    The Kids’ Book of Paper Love is from the bestselling editors of Flow magazine and books including A Book That Takes Its Time and 50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful, Ordinary Life. Now Flow enters the children’s section for the first time.  Take a look at the video below to see the book in action!

     

    With this book, kids will enjoy HOURS OF UNPLUGGED FUN and the pleasures of paper.  The Kids’ Book of Paper Love invites children to write, craft, play, and share in a completely screen-free way. Each page throughout the book can be folded, cut up, collaged, doodled on, and shared.  We enjoyed cutting out our own bookmarks, making DIY photo booth props, and making a paper “boredom buster”.  We plan to do the paper chain activity to countdown the days until Christmas this year!  This is such an amazing book that can be enjoyed so many different ways.  Ready for your chance to win a copy?  See the giveaway details listed below.

    Visit the website to learn more about the book.

    Follow Workman Publishing on InstagramTwitter and Facebook

    Follow Flow Magazine on InstagramTwitter and Facebook

    The Kids’ Book of Paper Love Giveaway


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    family fun, product reviews

    The Easiset Way to Learn How to Play Chess for Ages 5 – 105: Brainblox Family Fun Chess


    Disclaimer: My family received a free Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox to review and enjoy with our family in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    If you’re like me and have little to no experience playing the game of chess, you may be wondering how to teach kids to play chess when you don’t even know how to play yourself! Thankfully, Brainblox is here to help! They recently introduced a beautiful Family Fun Chess set to their product line and it’s so great.

    If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me talking about it recently in my Instagram stories.  I also hosted a giveaway in partnership with Brainblox where we gave away one chess set to a lucky winner.

    What is Family Fun Chess?

    It’s a color-coded, FUN, learn-as-you-play game for kids and adults to learn chess!

    When it’s your turn, simply roll the Chess Cube to see which piece to move! The Reference Cards make it easy to learn-as-you-play, while the full-color Instruction Book and videos tell you everything else you need to know.

    The chess set includes:

    • a folding wooden chess board
    • 32 wooden chess pieces
    • 2 reference cards
    • a full color chess book
    • a wooden cube

    Learning how to play chess the “Family Fun” way was very easy to understand for me and my kids.  We found the reference cards to be super useful in helping us all understand how each of the chess pieces are able to move on the board during the game.  I also appreciate the fact that Brainblox included instructions for playing chess the standard way too.  This will come in handy once we’ve fully grasped the rules of chess and are ready to move on to learning how to play standard chess.

    The thing I love most about learning to play chess and teaching my kids to play is all of the benefits associated with understanding the game.

    Here are just a few of the benefits of playing chess:

    • increases concentration and memory
    • helps with paying attention to detail and strategic thinking
    • improves problem-solving and spatial skills
    • exercises both sides of the brain

    Even more importantly, I find learning to play chess alongside my children to be much more meaningful because offers quality time and experiences that we will remember for a lifetime. If you’re sold on learning to play chess with your little ones, you’ll first need to get your family a chess set.  If you can’t already tell, I’d highly recommend the Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox.  It makes a great holiday or anytime of the year gift for ages 5 – 105!

    Not ready to invest in a chess set of your own yet?  You can also look into local chess clubs for kids in your area.  Find out if your child’s school or your local library has a Chess Club. That’s a great place to start, so kids can get basic instruction and have peers to play with.  There are also many online resources and apps available to use too.  You can choose to play against friends, connect with other players at your level, or get live or virtual tutoring.

    Your turn:  Do you or your children know how to play chess?  Are you excited to learn about the Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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