Reading Fun for Kids with Zoobean Expert

Reading fun with personalized recommendations from Zoobean Expert

My kids LOVE to read, and I am constantly working to keep them supplied with high quality books. We got to try out Zoobean’s home delivery service earlier this year, and loved it! This summer we’re using the Zoobean Expert service to find books and activities that will interest my kids. Both the home delivery service and the expert service have impressed me by recommending books my kids love with fun activities to go with them! Every single book we received in the mail was well-received AND one I had not seen before; most of the recommendations online have also been new-to-me books.

Zoobean is very easy to use, and it makes a wonderful gift for kids, too – one they can enjoy all year round! You simply fill out a child profile with their age, reading level, and interest, and a Zoobean curator puts together books and activities that your child will love! I especially appreciate that Zoobean takes both age and reading level into consideration, since these do not always correlate the way people expect them to.

Zoobean is offering one of my US readers a three-month subscription to their home delivery service! This includes their book of the month, access to their kits, library recommendations, and sharing. It’s the service we tried out earlier this year, and I highly recommend it! Enter to win via rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Zoobean is also offering ALL of my readers $10 off an Expert membership (dropping the price to $15 for one year!) that can be accessed from anywhere in the world with coupon code EXPERTSMILES, or 20% off the home delivery service (US only) with code HOMESMILES. Just click below to sign up! zoobean-button This membership also gives you access to Zoobean’s themed kits – perfect for homeschoolers, after schoolers, and moms looking to keep kids busy during summer vacation! I downloaded the “Celebrating Family Backgrounds”, “Exploring Color”, “Gardens”, and “Egypt” kits to enjoy with my kids this summer! Zoobean will also curate a custom kit for you for $10. afterschool linky

2014 After School Party HOSTS
The Educators’ Spin On It
Planet Smarty Pants
Boy Mama Teacher Mama
Mama Smiles
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
The Measured Mom
This Reading Mama
What Do We Do All Day

  Speaking of afterschooling, it’s Monday, and Monday is my Afterschool linky day! Since we’re talking about Zoobean and books, I thought I would feature posts that encourage kids to get reading! This Reading Mama shared 8 Quiet Read Aloud Activities that will get even the most reluctant listeners paying attention, and Growing Book by Book collected 10 Just Right Summer Reading Nook Ideas! Link up your elementary school aged activities in the linky below. By doing so you are giving the linky hosts permission to feature your post and to pin it to our After School Activities board on Pinterest.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of ZooBean. The opinions and text are all mine.


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Using Coins to Explore the World

Using currency to learn world geography

Mike did this fun geography activity with the kids over the weekend. He downloaded this map of the world from this free world map site, and then pulled out our foreign coins and had the kids match the coins to the map. It was a fun way to explore the world!

Explore the world using coins

We have a pretty impressive foreign coin collection because I was raised in several different countries, and so was Mike’s dad. A lot of the coins we have belong to countries that now use the Euro, as well as some (Yugoslavia) that no longer exist. If you don’t have a foreign coin collection of your own, you can use these images of bank notes from around the world.

Use coins to start a conversation with kids about the world

Looking for more ways to explore the world with your kids? My world culture for kids series is a great place to start!

Follow MamaSmiles’s board Mom’s Summer Camp on Pinterest.

With summer vacation well underway in our house, I’m on the lookout for fun, multi-age educational activity for kids! I’m collecting them on this “Mom’s Summer Camp” Pinterest board. Do you have some that I should add?

afterschool linky

2014 After School Party HOSTS

The Educators’ Spin On It
Planet Smarty Pants
Boy Mama Teacher Mama
Coffee Cups and Crayons
Mama Smiles
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
The Measured Mom
This Reading Mama
What Do We Do All Day

I found some great activities for my Pinterest board in last week’s linky! These balancing robots from Buggy and Buddy and this simple puppet show from Mama to 5 Blessings were two of my favorites from last week! Please share you elementary school aged activities in the linky below. By doing so you are giving the linky hosts permission to feature your post and to pin it to our After School Activities board on Pinterest.

Playful Preschool Learning Ideas for Home or School

Over 25 playful learning activities for preschool aged children

I love hands-on, play-based learning – particularly when it comes to learning activities for preschool-aged children! I was thrilled to contribute to the new Three to Five: Playful Preschool ebook (affiliate link) with several of my favorite bloggers! This ebook is full of wonderful activities you can download and complete with your child using household materials. It’s perfect for homeschoolers, and I’ll be using it with my four-year-old this summer. Actually, my eight-year-old is using it to run play preschool for my four-year-old this summer. It’s a great way to keep both girls learning and playing together, all summer long! This $8.99 ebook, (just like the Zero to Two ebook I contributed to along with several of the same bloggers earlier this year) includes several printables, and all of the activities and printables are original – you won’t find them on our blogs. Here’s a fun preview:

Cathy James of NurtureStore created a list of topics that we then signed up for, so the book covers the full range of topics you would expect a preschooler to learn about – from art ideas to pretend play to math, literacy, and science. My preschooler loves to keep busy, and I was looking for some sort of a playful curriculum we could use to give her summer some structure. This ebook is exactly what I needed – and so beautifully photographed! Here are a few of the art activities:

playful preschool learning ideas - art, math, science, and more!

Science activities:

playful preschool learning ideas - science, art, math, and more!

And Math activities:

Math is fun! Playful ways to introduce your preschooler to mathematics

Plus my favorite of the printables – a  fun city scape!

Pretend play and playful learning ideas for preschool aged children.

Does this look like something your family would enjoy? You can download your copy here:

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What are your favorite activities for 3-5-year-old children? Painting is a big favorite in my house right now – such a delightful sensory art activity!

Raising Kids Who Love Math

raising kids who love math

Happy Pi Day! To celebrate this fabulous number, I have decided to share some of my favorite ways to raise kids who love math. Many of them are from my own childhood – my mother taught math before leaving her career behind to raise ten children, and she has spent hours tutoring both her own children and their classmates. She also raised ten children who all appreciate math on some level – one of them so much that he is currently getting a Ph.D. in statistics. I have included links to a few math manipulatives that we love – these are affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using them I may earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting this blog!

Raising Kids Who Love Math

The secret to my mom’s success is that she sees math as much more than numbers on a page. She probably loves math at least as much as my statistician brother. She listens to math lectures for fun, takes math classes for fun, and does math problems to relax. But you don’t have to love math the way my mom did to raise kids who appreciate it – and enjoy it! Here are some fun ways to enjoy math with your family – some of them may surprise you!

  • Get creative. Math is all about looking at things creatively – from every angle, including those you haven’t thought of before. Creative activities are also a great way to learn that you need to make mistakes in order to learn and make new discoveries – a critical lesson if you are going to learn to love math.
  • Get out in nature. Nature has a natural order to it – you can, for example, find the Fibonacci sequence in pine cones, tree branchings, and pineapple. Spending time in nature is also a great way to get kids thinking reflectively.
  • Play math games. Use pattern blocks to create beautiful wall mosaics, and explore perimeter and area with cuisenaire rods. Young children can learn a lot of math simply by playing with math manipulatives! We love these bear family counters and these people plus pet cat counters. Fill a container with marbles or jelly beans and guess how many are inside. Count out 100 of different objects.
  • Don’t worry about your own limitations. There were plenty of times growing up when I would bring home math that my mom hadn’t learned or couldn’t remember – especially during my last two years of high school. She was always interested in learning more about it – and I think her interest helped me keep working at understanding more challenging concepts. When it comes to children learning, I think parental attitude is always more important than parental knowledge.

What are your favorite ways of getting kids interested in math? You can find many of my favorite ideas on my Math Is Fun Pinterest board, but my all-time favorite is this mind-boggling statistics experiment!

We Love Math

The We Love Math blog hop is hosted by Dot to Dot Connections, Mama Smiles, Nerdy Science, Planet Smarty Pants, and Teach Beside Me in honor of Pi Day! Link up your favorite math activities for kids below!

Plant Biology for Kids

Simple ways to teach children about plant biology from mamasmiles.com.

I am a huge fan of teaching plant biology for kids – they have a natural fascination about the world around them, and they remember scientific terms easily. Spring is a great time to start gardening with kids, and you don’t have to wait for spring temperatures to get started! This post includes affiliate links to the planter featured in the image above, since my kids enjoyed it and it was a fun way to teach them a little bit about plant biology. Any purchases made through this link may earn a small commission for this site at no cost to yourself. Thank you for supporting this blog!

Plant Biology for Kids: An Introduction to Photosynthesis

Having live plants in your home is a wonderful way to teach kids about the importance plants attach to sunlight. You can use a seedling to show how plants follow the sun, or larger plants like these bean plants! If you look at the photo, you will see that the plant’s leaves are turned so that they can absorb as much sunlight as possible. Turn the planting box, and the leaves will turn again to follow the sun! Chlorophyll is a pigment that makes the leaves green – and it absorbs the sunlight, which it needs for photosynthesis! A very basic explanation of photosynthesis is that the plant takes the sunlight that it has absorbed through its leaves along with carbon dioxide it gets from the air and water that it gets though its roots. It combines these ingredients to create the sugar that the plant needs to grow. You can use any plant in any container to teach this lesson, but thinner, see-through planters like the one above are cool because you can see root systems so well. A zip lock bag also works – there is no need to get fancy, but this was a birthday gift that Emma really enjoyed last year.

afterschool linky

2014 After School Party HOSTS

The Educators’ Spin On It
Planet Smarty Pants
Boy Mama Teacher Mama
Coffee Cups and Crayons
Little Wonders’ Days
Mama Smiles
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
The Measured Mom
This Reading Mama
What Do We Do All Day

What fun and educational after school activities did your family enjoy this week? Please share you elementary school aged activities in the linky below – by doing so you are giving the linky hosts permission to feature your post and to pin it to our After School Activities board on Pinterest. I adore these mandala sun catchers from twig & toadstool from last week’s shares – such a beautiful spring craft for kids! Be sure also to check out this wonderful series on gardening with kids from The Educators’ Spin On It ! I’ll be sharing this post at Ticia’s weekly science link-up.