1/25/14

Giveaways on the Blog


Want to see who is winning?
Click HERE for the list of winners!

1/24/14

90 Ways to Teach Preschoolers with Toys

Young children learn best through play. Guided learning is when an adult leads the child with questions and suggestions that extends the child's experiences and deepens the understanding of basic concepts. Just a few minutes each day with a child while they play can make a huge impact on future educational success.

Select one concept each day and show your child some examples of it, if necessary. Stay with the child for about 15 minutes to provide support and encouragement, then celebrate successes together. Remember, play should be fun! Many times, children will continue the activity on their own until they feel they have mastered the concept.

For example, your child is playing with a pile of superhero figures. You could walk up to your child and say, "I have a great idea! Let's line them all up in a row, end to end." Start by lining up three or four of them, then tell your child, "Now you try it! Make the line longer!" When all of the superheroes are lined up, you could suggest putting them all in a pile and starting over, or you could suggest doing the same thing with another set of toys. Don't be surprised if you find long lines of toys across every room of the house that day.

These ideas could easily be adapted to include multiple children or to an early childhood classroom. Some of these concepts may morph into another concept, so go with it if it does, but always bring the child(ren) back around to the original concept before allowing them to experiment on their own after the guided learning. These activities span across all types of development, including social, emotional, physical, and cognitive (thinking) skills and are targeted to preschoolers (older 2's to age 5).
1. Sort toys by color.
2. Sort toys by size.
3. Arrange toys from smallest to largest.
4. Arrange toys from largest to smallest.
5. Count toys.
6. Stack toys as high as possible.
7. Line toys up side by side.
8. Line toys up end to end.
9. Trace toy shape outlines onto paper.
10. Find toys that are the same length.
11. Hold a heavy toy in one hand and a light toy in the other.
12. Arrange toys in a circle, square, and triangle shape.
13. Find letters on toys.
14. Find numbers on toys.
15. See which toys float or sink.
16. Group into soft toys and hard toys.
17. See which toys will roll down a makeshift ramp.
18. Find a smooth toy and a bumpy toy.
19. Guess how many toys are in a box. Verify.
20. Guess how many toys will fill a box. Verify.
21. Find toys that start with the same letter sound.
22. Put several toys in a large bag and guess what they are by touch only.
23. Find five toys smaller than your hand.
24. Find five toys larger than your foot.
25. Match toys to colored construction paper.
26. Find toys with circles (squares, triangles) on them.
27. Group into sets of three, four, five, etc. using yarn circles for grouping.
28. Trade one toy for one toy, two toys for two toys, three toys for three toys, etc.
29. Hide ten toys in a room, count to ten, then find all ten.
30. See how many (cars, blocks, etc.) will make a floating bowl tip over in water.
31. Fill a sink with soapy water for "toy bath day."
32. Choose a toy and tell a story about how that toy was made.
33. Draw pictures of five toys, then staple the pages together as a book.
34. Find toys that make good hats. Check in the mirror.
35. Hide a toy under a small blanket. Give clues to guess what is hidden.
36. On a large blanket, arrange animal toys into a zoo. Use yarn or sticks for fences.
37. Sort play food into breakfast foods, lunch foods, and dinner foods.
38. Choose any ten toys. Try to build a standing bridge with them.
39. Freeze tiny toys in water in an ice cube tray. Set them in the sun to thaw.
40. See which toys will fit through a paper towel tube.
41. Set some toys in the sun then trace around their shadows with chalk.
42. Use a magnet to find which toys are magnetic.
43. Find toys to string onto a ribbon and make a toy necklace or belt.
44. Space out ten small toys on a carpet, then jump over all ten, one at a time.
45. Stand up play figures and small toys. Try to blow them down.
46. Fill a box with toys using only your feet.
47. Make toy impressions in playdough or clay.
48. Roll little car wheels over paint on paper in a box lid.
49. Roll marbles over paint on paper in a box lid.
50. Give all the blocks (or cars, animal figures, play food, etc.) human names.
51. Put real clothes and accessories on all the stuffed animals.
52. Toss soft toys into a box, standing further and further back each time.
53. Choose three toys and tell a story about an adventure they had together.
54. See which toys can balance on an upright toilet paper tube.
55. Put small toys in clasp envelopes and "mail" them to one another.
56. Use barbecue tongs to put toys into boxes.
57. "Paint" toys with water using several sizes of paintbrushes.
58. Wrap play figures in toilet paper to make them all "mummies."
59. Take apart three puzzles, mix up all the pieces, then solve them.
60. Match magnetic letters to letters in a book.
61. Use toys to retell a storybook tale.
62. Put ten small toys under a towel. Without peeking, try to remember them all.
63. See how many small toys will fit in an adult shoe.
64. Choose a toy of each color, then assign them flavors (lemon car, cherry block, etc.)
65. Use a 12-inch ruler to measure toys.
66. Use a magnifying glass to examine toys closely.
67. Use a kitchen scale or postal scale to weigh toys.
68. Make hero capes for stuffed animals with hand-towels and clothespins.
69. Decorate a tree in your yard with toys.
70. Turn on music and dance with stuffed animals or dolls.
71. Put small toys in old tissue boxes to make musical shakers.
72. Turn boxes and buckets upside down to play the "drums" on them.
73. Set favorite toys in a circle and tell why each one is a favorite toy.
74. Make toy soup by adding toys to a large stockpot and stir with a large spoon.
75. Take a laundry basket "boat cruise" with just five toys packed in a tote bag.
76. Arrange small toys to create the letters of the alphabet.
77. Arrange small toys to create the numerals 0-9.
78. See how many toys will fit in one hand.
79. Use a broom to sweep all the toys into one pile.
80. Dust all the toys with a feather duster.
81. Practice first aid by putting kids' bandages on all the stuffed animals and dolls.
82. Choose a toy. Sing, substituting the toy's word for other words in the song.
83. Wrap toys with paper and tape, then have a pretend party to open them all.
84. Sort quiet and loud toys. Play quietly with loud toys, then loudly with quiet toys.
85. See which toys can hang from clothes hangers in the closet.
86. Tuck all the toys in for a nap, then "read" books to them.
87. Put toys in boxes, using a large spoon in each hand.
88. Loop chalk colors together with a rubberband, then draw sidewalk rainbows.
89. Find a toy that starts with each letter of the child's name.
90. Sort out old toys and donate them to a church, daycare, or charity together.

Have some great ideas? Leave me a comment below with your suggestions!

Frozen - Texas Edition 2014

 Austin, Texas rarely sees a weather event that deals with ice or snow.
 What started as sleet last night turned into an all-night ice storm.
 It left a very thin sheet of ice on flat surfaces and snowy-like conditions on grass.
 The roads are quite slippery, so all schools in the area are closed. Yes, closed.
 By noon, most of the ice will be melted and the roads should be mostly clear.
 Mostly, people in this area are just not aware of how to drive in icy conditions.
 Since I grew up in the Midwest, I learned how to drive in wintery conditions.
 So I'm slightly amused by all the hype about school closures and business delays.
 I'm also amused by the little snowman (iceman) photos they keep showing on the local news.
On Sunday, we'll see temperatures in the upper 70s.
Welcome to Texas!

1/23/14

Handcrafted Valentine's Day Card Ideas

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Help Your 6th-12th Graders Succeed

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As the parent of three children who are now in college, I cannot stress enough to you the importance of good grades in middle and high school. Student loans and grants no longer cover the costs of attending college. When my children's loans fell short, my husband and I had to take out several loans in our own names. Getting good grades in middle and high school helps to ensure that your children will be eligible for scholarships. College courses are much more demanding than classes in middle and high school, so it's really important to give your children every advantage to succeed.
Revolution Prep, a leading tutoring services innovator, has successfully unveiled the GPA Protection Program, a new web-based tutoring platform designed to efficiently help children complete nightly homework assignments and other coursework in grades 6-12. While Revolution Prep continues to offer test preparation for college-bound students, it created the GPA Protection Program to benefit students needing help on homework and other assignments that lay the foundation for academic excellence in middle school, high school, and beyond.

The company’s recent student/parent survey speaks to the program’s success:
  • 81% of users agree: the GPA Plan saves them valuable time on homework.
  • 92% of users seeing significant results stick with same tutor based on a good first experience.
  • 92% of Parents agreed that GPA Protection is an incredible service and value for families.
  • 84% of students say their homework needs are being met through the GPA Program.
  • 78% of sessions booked are for math and science subjects.

“This last statistic is especially important,” Ramit Varma, Co-Founder of Revolution Prep, said. “When children fall behind in their math skills, it’s very hard for them to catch up to their peers. Math and science are challenging subjects for many parents, too. So GPA Protection tutors are always on-hand to be instructive and supportive – even inspirational – because students benefit when they’re reminded that math can be fun and relevant to their lives. In fact, children tend to fall behind when their teachers fail to make these connections. Our tutors are trained to use homework and other assignments to help students realize what’s interesting and ‘cool’ about these subjects.”

Online tutors available through Revolution Prep’s GPA Protection Program have seen a wave of new enrollees seeking unlimited and on-demand assistance in as many as 20 core subjects. Students can book a tutor same-day, upload a homework assignment using a smartphone, and experience one-on-one help using the company’s web-based interface.

“Ease of access to personal expert assistance is a critical aspect of the program,” Varma adds. “Students have a private tutor online for a flat rate of $99 per month that fits more family budgets. Other centers provide tutors at about that rate per hour, but we’ve found that the quality of our instructors, affordable pricing, and online flexibility, lead to the kind of improved results that are truly sustainable as academic challenges spring up one week to the next.”
Revolution Prep also provides online and class-based tutoring programs in a wide array of subjects:
  • SAT and ACT test prep, available as private tutoring and small group online courses
  • AP and Subject Exam preparation to help students enhance the value of their college applications and potentially earn them college credits

Since its founding in 2002, Revolution Prep's Academic Advisors have helped nearly a million students succeed in elementary school, high school, and college. Advisors work with each student and family to develop an individualized course of action, pairing students with tutors in a selection process drawing from over 250 instructors nationwide.

For more information on Revolution Prep
and its programs, 
call (855) 833-0377 

About Revolution Prep
Founded in 2002, Revolution Prep is an educational services and software provider that has helped nearly a million students improve college readiness, academic skills, and score higher on the SAT, ACT, APs and other exams. Revolution Prep provides the highest quality instruction to all students, regardless of their ability to pay. In building a team of experts who are dedicated to this vision, Revolution Prep has developed innovative methods and curricula to help students achieve their test score potential and become better learners for the future. Revolution is also highly committed to making a positive difference in the community through a generous scholarship program – which has funded over $4.5 million in tuition assistance for needy students – company service days, and partnership programs.

1/22/14

Engagement Photo Shoot

My son and daughter-in-law-to-be just shared their Engagement photos with me and they turned out so amazing that I wanted to share them!







Cocktail Sauce Hack

Out of cocktail sauce?
Mix 1/2 cup Ketchup to 1/4 cup Horseradish Sauce!

Wednesday Wealth Giveaway Link Up (Jan 22-28)

Link up your giveaways and enter to win!
This past week I won a candy bar and a bag of muffins.
Not much, but it's a new week!
What have you won?

1/21/14

Giveaway - $25 Starbucks Gift Card

Do you prefer coffee or tea?
I'm a huge coffee drinker so I'm especially excited to be participating
in this giveaway hop.

Welcome to the 3rd annual Tea and Coffee Review Blog Hop
hosted by A Year of Jubilee Reviews.

Each blogger in the hop is offering a giveaway of something to warm you up during these last few months of winter. Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate are just a few of the great drinks that will keep you toasty warm until we hit spring. Each blogger is offering a prize of a minimum of $20. Be sure to hop around and check up the great line up!
Enter below to win a $25 Gift Card to Starbucks!
Open to US residents, ages 18+.
Giveaway ends at midnight on 2/5/2014.
To enter just fill in the Rafflecopter form below!
While you're here, you can enter my other giveaways HERE.

JustFab Buy 1 Get 1 Free Sale

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Pear Compote Cake #Recipe - Tasty Tuesday Link Up

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Welcome to Tasty Tuesday Recipe Link Up!
Sponsored By:

Join us each week as we add new recipes to our Tasty Tuesday Link Up. Recipes shared need NOT be 5 star rated restaurant quality to impress. Lisa and Bonnie would love it if you would: Please link back to our blogs or posts. You will find the button above if you wish to add it to your site. The recipe needs to be a recipe you made. Please do not link to a site other than your own.
Pear Compote Cake
by Lisa Weidknecht
Ingredients:
3 pears, peeled and diced
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 stick of butter
1 white cake mix
1 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:
Peel and dice three fresh pears. Place in large bowl. Add 2 cups dark brown sugar and stir. Melt 1/2 stick of butter and add to bowl, stir. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cooking oil on a 9"x13" metal pan. Pour pear mixture into pan and spread to cover the bottom of the pan. In another bowl, mix 1 white cake mix with 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of olive oil, stir. Pour over pears and use a spatula to spread evenly to edges. Take the other 1/2 stick of butter and cut it into about 12 smaller pieces and arrange on top of cake mixture. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Using a spatula, gently turn over baked ingredients to mix slightly. Serve warm in bowls. Store leftovers (if there are any) in the refrigerator.

Notes:
Incredibly delicious dessert. Easy to make. 

Print this recipe HERE.
See my other recipes HERE.

Now it's your turn to share your latest creation!

Snowlink.com Gets Kids On-Hill Ready and “Snow Smart” #travel

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Skiing with your family can be a fun and memorable event. Worried about your children's safety? A parents’ number one concern when kids head out skiing/snowboarding is on-hill safety and Snowlink.com has worked with the National Ski Patrol to help parents’ start a dialogue with kids and review the do’s/don’ts when hitting the slopes with the Safety IQ Test.

And while being snow smart is essential, a lesson from a professional is even more important. Snowlink.com has also created a great tool for locating ski schools and snowboard schools across the country. An introduction to this fabulous activity can relieve many concerns for parents and instill some excitement in the kids before hitting the slopes.

Each season, SIA collects the most current information and resources for all things SNOW, helping consumers improve their skill level, locate equipment and the latest in snow sports fashion on Snowlink.com. Being informed and prepared is the best way to ensure you and your entire family enjoy skiing together. My sister's family goes on a ski vacation regularly and the photos she brings back shows they have a wonderful time. It's definitely a vacation idea on my To-Do list!
Here are some other additional features for kids and parents to explore together:

Kids Zone- A great resource for websites and links to programs that help get kids out on the slopes.

Goggle Gap-The space between your helmet and goggles, or Goggle Gap, can be exposed due to a poor-fitting helmet and goggle system, becoming severely sunburned, chapped by the wind or frostbit. Learn how to “erase the space” here.

Resort/Retailer Finder- Locate resorts and specialty snow sports retailers for the best selection and customer service.

Gumdrop and Hardcandy Mobile Device Cases - Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I received a case at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
When I got my mobile phone, I declined the full-replacement insurance at seven dollars a month because I just don't drop my phone. Or at least that's what I said at the time. Just one day after snuggling my new phone up inside this gorgeous pink Gumdrop phone case, I dropped my phone on a concrete floor in the middle of a store.
This Gumdrop case is in the Drop Tech series and provides the ultimate in phone protection. I especially like the extra casing on the corners. This case comes apart into two pieces, the soft pink silicone casing that hugs my phone from the back to the front and the hard white plastic casing that fits over the front of my phone.
The back of the case sort of looks like a tire tread and the bumps wrap around the edges, making the phone very comfortable in my hand. The design also helps to ensure I don't drop it again. And even if I do, I know my phone can take the abuse now with my Gumdrop Case.
Gumdrop Cases and Hardcandy Cases are not just for phones. Both companies offer the latest iPad, iPhone and MacBook cases. They also have cases for Samsung, general tablets, and the Kindle Fire. With so many designs and colors to choose from, you're sure to find one you can't live without. Mine, of course, had to be pink.
I really like the way this Gumdrop Case even protects the edge buttons, but the flip-down cover on the bottom gives me instant access to my ports. This case also has protection over the home button and extra casing around the camera lens. It's the best phone case I can remember owning!
Visit Gumdrop Cases and Hardcandy Cases to see their entire line of mobile device cases. Then enter below to win your choice of any case from either website.

Gumdrop Twitter - @gumdropcases

Hard Candy Twitter - @hardcandycases
Hard Candy Instagram - http://instagram.com/hardcandycases
Hard Candy Pinterest - http://pinterest.com/hardcandycases
To enter, just fill in the Rafflecopter form below!
This giveaway is open to US residents ages 18 and older. 
Giveaway ends at midnight on 2/10/2014. Good luck!

1/20/14

Fiction Untitled 3.3


3.3

Suddenly he was standing over her. He had a gash across the left side of his face and the blood was already drying out. He wrenched the half-asleep child from her by the arm and Rose cried out in pain, then fear when she realized her father was indeed still alive. He dragged her out of the room and slammed the door. She could hear him yelling at Rose, asking where the other two girls went. Rose must have told him because after some rustling around, everything went silent. She decided they must have gone looking for them.

She was alone and she realized it might be her one chance to escape. She pulled herself to a sitting position and realized she was going to have to physically drag herself out of that prison. After several painful attempts, she finally threw herself off the bed onto the floor. She gasped at the pain and sucked in her breath. She landed on her stomach and the palms of her hands, but her legs had somehow become crossed in the fall and the wood from the makeshift splints were lodged against each other. She rolled over onto her back and they miraculously separated. Rolling back to her stomach, she pulled herself toward the door, an arm’s length at a time.

Although it only took minutes for her to reach the doorway, it seemed like hours. She stopped and listened carefully, hoping no one would return. She pulled herself up to a sitting position on the wall next to the door. Her arms ached from pulling her body across the floor, but she knew this was only the beginning of her escape. And she could be discovered at any moment.

When he slammed the door in his anger at the girls, he failed to latch it and it swung open easily at her touch. Amazed at this wonderful discovery, she renewed her strength and pulled her body out of the room. She stared down a short hallway at a staircase made of large stone rocks. She could smell the outdoors and thought perhaps she might be in a cellar.

She pulled herself down the hallway to the staircase. The floor was made of gravel and she was glad her legs were so numb that she couldn’t feel the sharp rocks scratching her legs. Up the steps was the only way out. As she peered upward, she could see another door laying flat over the steps, confirming her suspicion of her location. One step at a time, she hoisted herself up, going backwards on her bottom while her legs dangled over the steps below.

Halfway up, one of the rocks under her hand came loose and went crashing to the bottom of the stairs. She hoped no one was around to hear it, then wished someone was. Someone other than that evil man who imprisoned her. She kept going, one step at a time. The sweat ran down her face and mingled with her tears of desperation. Her eyes burned and her arms ached. The top of her head finally reached the horizontal door and she rested for a minute while she gathered her strength to push it upward. When she had finally mustered the strength to push, it was useless as the door would not budge. She dissolved into hysterical sobbing. She was crying so hard that she didn’t even realize the door above her had been opened.
==========================================
Did you miss the beginning? Start reading my novel HERE.

1/19/14

Giveaway - Cake in a Mug Package

Love to win prizes?
You have lots of chances to win in the
Be Our Valentine Giveaway Hop!
Hosted by TheReviewWire.com

The Grand Prize will be
Who Loves Me? Personalized Book and
Lovie Blanket Set from I See Me! {$49.95}
http://bit.ly/1cDhUvb

Is the way to your sweetie's heart through his stomach?
My prize package allows you to make his favorite cakes
and breads just for him in a few minutes!
One winner will win a
Shirley J Mugging! Gift Set that includes the mug and a mix,
plus five additional individual cake/bread mixes!
Prize ARV $30

To enter, just fill in the Rafflecopter form below.
Open to US residents, ages 18+.
Ends at midnight on 2/3/2014.
While you're here, you can enter my other giveaways HERE.