5 Breakfast Conversation Starters with Monthly Mini™ Missions

5 Breakfast Conversation Starters

Do you eat breakfast together as a family?  Do you converse while eating or is it rushed and hurried?

 

Scholastic and Kellogg’s®  Frosted Mini Wheats® believe that every day is a BIG day!  They have teamed up to encourage families to spend time together while also earning free Scholastic books (and the chance to win other awesome prizes) through Monthly Mini™ Missions.  Log in and complete the Mini™ Missions for each month and your family will receive 2 free Scholastic books.  In addition, you are automatically registered to receive some really awesome prizes for your school and community as well in the sweepstakes.  Be sure to register your family here.

 

November’s Mini™ Mission is called “Conversation Bites”.  The Mini™ Mission requires that families engage in meaningful breakfast conversations before school at least 5 times during the month.  If you know me and my disdain of mornings in general, you know this was a major challenge for me.  We rarely eat breakfast together as a family.  The boys typically eat breakfast with Daddy (while I am upstairs trying to drag myself out of bed).  Whenever Daddy is out of town or has to leave for work early, I hurriedly throw something on a plate for them while I am getting ready for the day.  This is definitely not an ideal way to start the day.

 

We decided to try this month’s Mini™ Missions and ate breakfast for 5 days.  To make it more fun and engaging, I decided I would come up with 5 Breakfast Conversation Starters to get the family talking (and laughing) together.

Here are 5 questions to spur on a meaningful breakfast conversation:

 

  • If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?  Why?
  • Name one of your favorite things about each person in our family.
  • If you could be any character in a book, who would it be?  Why?
  • If you could meet anyone in the whole world who would you want to meet?
  • If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would it be?

 

Our boys’ responses were entertaining and surprising at times.  Most of all, it allowed us to talk and communicate in the morning before we all went our own separate ways (or at least some of us, anyway).   We were able to connect before the busyness of the day began…which was a wonderful blessing that I have been missing out on for far too long!

 

Birthday Breakfast

One of our morning breakfasts just happened to be Little Brother’s birthday! He deserved some candles on his breakfast!

There are exactly 5 days left in the month of November, so it’s not too late to jump in on this month’s Mini™ Mission (and earn your Scholastic books).  If not, be sure to try December’s Mini™ Mission, which is called “Give and Get Back”  For this Mini™ Mission, work together as a family to think of ways to help others and put your ideas into action.  Complete 3 projects that give back to your community or others in need.  No action can be too small!

 

Monthly Rewards for Families Include:

  • 2 Scholastic books when your family completes each Mini™ Mission. 5,000 book sets awarded each month. *While supplies last.

Monthly Sweepstakes for School and Communities Include:

  • $25 Scholastic Teacher Store Online gift cards. 100 gift cards awarded each month.
  • Scholastic book sets for classrooms. 20 book sets awarded each month.
  • $200 grants for PTO/PTAs. 10 grants awarded each month.
  • Book Nook Library Makeover for a local community center or organization. The Book Nook includes more than 1,200 Scholastic books, shelves, beanbag chairs, reading-themed rugs, an audio listening center and more! One Book Nook awarded each month.

What are you waiting for?  Work together as a family to complete this month’s Mini™ Mission!  

Kellogg’s® Frosted Mini-Wheats® and Scholastic have partnered to bring you the Every Day is a Big Day program, created to benefit families, schools and communities across the country.

Your family is invited to complete monthly Mini™ Missions to get free books for your family. Also, each month you’ll be entered into a sweepstakes for the chance to win one of 131 valuable prizes for your school and community. As you earn books and enter the sweepstakes, your family is sure to have a blast and learn something new along the way!

Start here and register for your first monthly mission!

This is a sponsored conversation by me on behalf of Kellogg’s(R) Frosted Mini-Wheats(R). The opinions and text are all mine.

The Magic of Think: Social and Emotional Learning Activity and Audio Book (Product Review)

*This is a sponsored post.  I was compensated for sharing my honest opinions on this product.  All opinions are 100% mine.

 

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As a parent and teacher, I tend to focus a lot on the tangible, measurable aspects of learning.  Letters, numbers, reading, and writing are all at the top of my priorities.  I admit that I do not usually place as much emphasis on the other domains of early childhood development, especially not on the social/emotional learning.  Outside of correcting improper social behavior, I spend almost no time focusing on this important aspect of a child’s overall development.

 

I was recently asked to review The Magic of Think:  Social and Emotional Learning Activity and Audio Book by Janyse Jaud.  This is the first of a seven book series aimed at teaching children about courage, friendship, happiness, and forgiveness.  Each book includes songs, stories, games, lessons, activities, and discussions based on social and emotional learning.

 

magic of think

 

The book starts off with a story about a wise and courageous king who ruled in the Kingdom of Think.  During a celebration, the King presents everyone in his kingdom with their very own shield with room for seven powerful stones.  The first empty space is for the stone of courage.  Three special characters need the help of the child to earn their stone as they work through the book.

 

Each of the special characters have a story that is told on the audio CD.  Children listen to the CD and then answer questions about how each character handled each specific situation and how he/she showed courage.  Some stories include just a narrative while others engage the children with a unique song.

 

 

Overall, I think this is a very helpful resource for teaching children about important social and emotional concepts in a unique and creative manner.  The stories are engaging, humorous and entertaining for the children (you can listen to samples here).  The activity book is interactive, allowing the child to record responses within the book itself.  It would be beneficial in both a home or a school setting for helping to teach children about their emotions and character attributes in a more tangible way!

 

 Go here to learn more about The Magic of Think.

 

 

*This is a sponsored post.  Please read my full disclosure policy

Google™ Nexus 7 Tablet: Review & Giveaway

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I believe technology can be a powerful learning tool for children as young as toddlers, as long as it is used in moderation.  Although I think the majority of our learning should be done in the “real world” where we can see, taste, touch, and smell things around us, technology definitely has its place in our parenting and teaching toolboxes.

Staples recently contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the new Google Nexus 7 tablet…and then giving one away to one of YOU!!!

I was so excited for this opportunity, mostly because I know that a tablet would make for a very fun giveaway!  But to be quite honest, I wasn’t expecting to really like the Google™ Nexus 7 all that much.  I’m an Apple girl, after all.  I am typing this post on my MacBook Pro, we have an iPad that everyone in the family uses, my husband got me an iPhone for Mother’s Day a few years ago, and we watch Netflix on our Apple TV.

But whatddyaknow…good ol’ Google just happened to surprise me because I REALLY like this tablet!

Here are some things that we love about the Google™ Nexus 7.  This review isn’t really intended to be a comparison to the iPad, but I couldn’t help but mentioning a few things since that is what we already had:

-Price:  The Google™ Nexus 7 (32 GB) is super affordable for just $269 at Staples.  The comparable model of the iPad mini is $429.  That’s a $160 difference!

-Clearer screen:  The screen is extremely clear and brilliantly bright (but not too bright to where it hurts your eyes).  I think the screen is actually better than the iPad.

-Super fast:  This tablet is really fast!  It is 32GB, after all, so it also has much more storage capability than our iPad.

-No fixed home button:  My husband thinks this is great…I think it takes some getting used to.  But basically this means you can turn it around any which way since the home button is actually on the screen itself.

-Back button:  A feature not on the iPad unless you are in an app that has it.

-Camera:  I love having a camera on our devices…it means that we can preserve memories no matter where we are.

Overall, we really love this tablet.  And the boys have already figured out how to navigate it just as well as we have!  The only issue I’m having is accessing the restrictions to disable the internet and in-app purchasing when they are using it.

Some of our favorite free apps are:

 

Want a Google™ Nexus 7 Tablet for yourself (valued at $269)?  To enter, just leave your e-mail address in the Rafflecopter window below (not in the comments, please).  If you can’t see the window, go here.  This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (apologies to my international readers).  The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 6th (EST).  A winner will be randomly selected shortly after and notified by e-mail.  By entering, you are agreeing to these official rules.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

* I was given this product at no cost in exchange for a review. All opinions are 100% mine.

Learning and Playing while Mom is Down and Out

Learning and Playing while Mom is Down and Out

 

Being a mom when you are down and out is tough.  Whether you are sick for a day or have a long-term illness or medical condition that causes you to spend most of your time on the bed or couch, it is hard to physically and mentally care for young children…let alone spur on learning and playing together.

For over a month now, I have spent the majority of my time laying on the bed or the couch.  I was put on bed rest when I was 13 weeks pregnant after a major scare revealed that I had a subchorionic hematoma.  Things are definitely improving and I expect to be back to some regular activity very soon, but until I get the okay from the doctor…I continue to spend the majority of my time resting.

Obviously, having a 3-year old and 5-year old makes bed rest quite difficult.  Thankfully, we are blessed with incredible people around us who have made this time much more bearable for all of us through their thoughtful acts of kindness and service to our family.

I’ve teamed up with Thomas & Friends to share some ways that I have found to entertain my boys from the comfort of my couch.  These would be great ideas for any mom or caregiver who is sick, tired from sleepless nights, or on bed rest.

 

1.  Read together.  One thing you can do together no matter where you are or how you are feeling is read.  Grab an assortment of genres and enjoy them together.  If your child is able to read, have him/her read a book to you for every book you read aloud to him/her.  Big Brother was able to read this Thomas book all by himself!

 

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2.  Act out the stories that you read using small toys and/or pretend play.  Although I’m typically not a huge fan of character books due to the fact that most of them don’t have the best literary features, they are great for reenacting stories and recalling details about that story using a hands-on approach.  The Thomas and Friends series of books have been a favorite for my boys.

 

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3.  Invest in some busy bag activities.  Last year I participated in a busy bag exchange with some friends from church.  I am so thankful that I have had those on hand to keep the boys occupied and doing something productive to their learning.  I have also used some of the activities in our quiet boxes as well.  If you haven’t already made any of these, you can find some pre-made sets on Etsy.

 

 

4.  Order a new toy to make this a special time for the kids.  My typical motto is the fewer toys, the better.  I cannot stand toy clutter in my house.  But with mom out of commission for an extended period, this time calls for a little something special.  Why not get a new toy to make it fun for everyone?  For younger kids, the Thomas & Friends Busy Conductor toy has been a hit.

 

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Most of all, give yourself grace and recognize that this will only last for a short time.  Don’t get discouraged if things aren’t exactly as you would typically do them or the household rules are relaxed for a short time.  Things will most likely get back to normal eventually…and even if they don’t, you will find a new rhythm and your “new normal” before you know it.  The most important thing of all is that you are making the most of your time together and that your children are loved and cared for…even if the situation isn’t ideal.

 

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

 

 

Spielgaben Product Review

This is a sponsored post.  I was given the featured product in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are 100% mine.

 

Spielgaben  Smarter Play, Smarter Child

Spielgaben, a company that originated in Australia, will soon be making its way to the US!  The name of this product could easily be called “the best set of manipulatives ever created”.  I use the word “manipulatives” instead of “toy” because it is more than just a toy and can easily be transformed into about a thousand different mini-lessons on color recognition, sizing, ordering, geometry, and fractions…just to name a few.  Or it can simply be used as several diffferent open-ended toys all while letting your child’s creativity come to life!

When the package first arrived, the boys first had some free play with all of the contents of the package.  Honestly, they played uninterrupted for over an hour!  Spielgaben is the perfect open-ended product for preschoolers and elementary students (make sure you keep it away from kids younger than three, though, because a lot of the pieces are pretty tiny).

 

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That is a house on the top left with a sidewalk to Grandma’s house.  :)

 

Although this product is wonderful for unstructured play, it is also great for more structured activities as well.  Here are just a few of the ways that we have utilized this amazing set…

 

One of Little Brother’s favorites was the box of wooden beads.  He used fine motor skills to place the beads on the shoestring all while creating patterns with the beads.

Lacing & Patterning

 

 

With the tiny wooden circles, we used them to form the letters of the boys names (which involved using precise fine motor control).  We also made groups of ten beads (and put them inside the larger circles) and then counted by tens.

Making Letters & Groups of Ten

 

 

We used the rods and various sizes of circles to order according to size, make parts of a whole, and create designs!

Ordering, Halves of a Whole, and Designs

 

 

When I brought out the pattern blocks, Big Brother immediately began creating “ice cream cones” using the triangles and half-circles.  We also created a chain reaction by

Chain Reactions and Ice Cream Cones

 

 

Here are a few other manipulatives included in the set:

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These blocks are a great way to introduce fractions!

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These 3-dimensional shapes are lots of fun…

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…especially when you make them into a pendulum!

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Finally, these crocheted balls are excellent for teaching color recognition.  Each ball has a strap that creates even more possibilities!

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Overall, this set is an amazing product for parents and teachers of preschool and elementary children.  Not only does it offer hours of free and unstructured play, Spielgaben also has the potential to be used for invaluable lessons on an assortment of cognitive development and mathematic

 

 

Spielgaben has been extremely popular in Australia and will soon be available in the US with a new and improved version!  To find out how you can be one of the first to own this new and improved version of the Spielgaben set with a big discount, go here and click on “Register Your Interest” in the yellow box.

 

Also, be sure to “like” Spielgaben on Facebook to keep up with the latest!

 

Once again, this was a sponsored review.  Go here to read my full disclosure policy