Intro to the ABC's of After School Activities (After School Link UP)

We're excited that next week we'll be bringing you the ABC's of After School Activities.  We thought we'd take a moment and ask our readers to fill in the blank for things that you include or want to include in your After School Activities with your child.  We would both fill pages and pages of ideas but we want them to be full of what you need the most as your child's first teacher at home.  So here's your chance!  Tell us in a comment below! 
Ask Yourself as your Child's First Teacher....
What resources are you looking for After School Learning and fun? 
What works best for your child After School? 
Where does your child want to go After School?
What subject area do you need more support with After School?
Do you have any goals you're setting for After School Activities in 2013 with your child?  Did you print your New Years Resolutions Printable or Craft Project? We invite you to share your child's responses on our Facebook Page or Google+ After School Enrichment Community.

We would love to have you link up your School-Age Posts (Ages 5 and up) about your learning week after school including, crafts, activities, playtime and adventures that you are doing to enrich your children's lives after their day at school or on the weekend! When linking up, please take a moment to comment on at least one post linked up before yours and grab our after school button to include a link on your post or site! By linking up you're giving permission for us to share on our After School Pinterest Board or Feature on our After School Party next week! Don't forget to follow along and Join our After School Enrichment Community. 
Link up your After School Activities, Crafts and Adventures! We'd love to see them!

Top 12 of 2012: Our Most Popular Posts

Are you ready to see what was your favorite posts for 2012?  We're sharing the Top 12 Most Popular Posts of 2012 from The Educators' Spin On It . We've had so much fun we sharing ideas in 2012 for your children. 

Can you believe that between the two of us we wrote 246 posts in 2012!   

The two of us dedicated our time in between raising our 3 kids each to creating and sharing ideas for Baby Time, Tot School, After School Express, Gardening with Kids, Love Books, Bilingual Babies, Little Hands that Cook with Books, Virtual Book Club for KidsAround the World in 12 Dishes and Snapshots of Parenting with Purpose!  Which do you follow the most?  Are you ready to see which posts you viewed the most?  Check them out!

Top 12 Posts of 2012 
Check out the post from above and leave a comment on the post you visit, we love hearing feedback from you! Keep your eye out for Kim's Favorites and Amanda's Favorites and The Very Best Activity of 2012 next week!  Until then we invite you to check out our favorites from 2011. 
Our Favorites from 2011
Amanda's Favorite Spin on Things by Kim in 2011
Kim's Favorite Spin On Things By Amanda in 2011

Do you have a favorite on The Educators' Spin On ItDo you have a topic you'd love for us to share more on?  It's your turn to share what you need the most support and resources for your child.  Email us or leave a Comment below. 

Stay tuned for the Best of 2012 Blog Hop from over 30 Bloggers from the Kids Blogger Network January 1! Come share your favorite blog post of 2012!  

New Years Activities & Printables for Kids

Here's a New Years Interview for 2013 for all our readers of The Educators' Spin On It. 

We hope that you will join us in 2013 as we share more ideas for your child.  It's fun to capture your child's memories each year and create a keepsake of their childhood.  You might be surprised at some of their answers.  We'd love for you to share a photo of your child's completed New Years Interview with Kids on facebook or google + or in our After School Enrichment Community on Google+. 

What do you think their Goal will be in 2013?  
  • Printable New Year's Interview with Kids

Happy Holidays from The Educators' Spin On It

 Happy Holidays from all of us at The Educators' Spin On It!

In an effort to stay true to why we started The Educators’ Spin On It (to learn and play with OUR kids and inspire others) we will be taking a 2 week break over the holidays. We will be posting the top 12 posts of 2012 after Christmas but there won't be any new posts from December 22th - January 1st.  We hope you will stay awhile and browse all the fun and inspiring posts we have written previously!  Here are just a few from this month to get your brains spinning with ways to parent with purpose this holiday season.

As we start to plan for blogging in the new year, if there is any topic you are interested in hearing our spin on or an age group you would like to see more of, we would love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment on this post or e-mail us at the educatorsspinonit at  We value your thoughts and opinions!!!

Happy Holidays
Amanda and Kim

Gingerbread Man Gift Wrap: Jan Brett Virtual Book Club for Kids

Gingerbread Man Gift Wrap Idea for the Holidays

Looking for a last minute idea for gifts? We're sharing our love of the Gingerbread Baby with others this holiday season. Reaching out to our neighbors, teachers, friends and coworkers with a little Gingerbread Love.  You can join us too! 

Make Your Own Life Size Gingerbread House for Kids

Making a life sized Gingerbread House can be so much fun for kids!  We're sharing our secret tips to build your own Gingerbread house that can be used over and over again with kids.  

Life Size Gingerbread House for Kids for  Holiday Play

Let's make a Gingerbread House!  

50+ Gingerbread Activities for Kids

There's something quite magical about Gingerbread Men and Kids.  In this article we're featuring our favorite Gingerbread Activities for Kids.  You will discover Gingerbread Crafts, Recipes, Reading, Writing, Math and MORE.  Celebrating the holidays with Gingerbread Men can be so much fun.

50+ Gingerbread Activities for Kids from The Educators' Spin On It

Here's where the Gingerbread fun begins!  We were inspired by Jan Brett's Virtual Books Club for Kids to find more Gingerbread Activities.  We have searched many of our favorite Children's Websites for Gingerbread Activities and want to share the best with you!  So...... here is our BIG LIST of GINGERBREAD IDEAS.  

This list includes Ideas for Gingerbread Man, Gingerbread Houses, and Recipes.  We even included Gingerbread Learning with activities for reading, writing, math, science and the performing arts!  Gingerbread fun for everyone! 

Gingerbread Man Crafts and Activities

Resources for How To Help Children Cope with Tragedy

We both have 6 year olds at home. The tragic events that occurred on Friday in Connecticut hit both of our hearts and homes very strongly especially as classroom teachers.  We felt that we needed to stop, acknowledge and grieve for the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

Our hearts and prayers go to the victims, their families, the surviving students, teachers and community at Sandy Hook. 

The past few days we've all seen how the media and peers and the world have reacted to the news.  We all react differently.  Amanda and I chose to react differently to the news of the events with our own children and how we shared the information.  We know that many of our readers will each have their own ways to grieve, respond and involve your family.

Resources for Helping Children Cope with Tragedy

We consider all of you as friends that we might hang out with at the playground one day and share things we find online that are helpful with our own children.  We've a tearful heart and a wish to help we just wanted to share with you some resources that we have read and searched for over the weekend for our own children that may help you with parenting your child through this event.  They can be found on our Pinterest Parenting Board .  Many are posts from Early Childhood Specialist, Psychologist & Counselors who specialize in this area of dealing with trauma with children.

Image Source Imagination Soup 

Our #1 Suggestion to all of our families would be to TURN OFF the TV.  

Try your best to monitor the messages they are hearing through various forms of media.  Be available to talk with them about their self initiated thoughts and concerns.  Since you may have more time on your hands with your child, especially as they holiday break arrives, here are some SCREEN FREE ACTIVITIES to spend special time with your child.   We've also found many resources for you for Screen Free Activities that can be found HERE on our board.  Free Play is a great way for children to process information that they may not be able to verbalize in a conversation with adults.  Books can be a great way to help your child open up about concerns and feelings.  Here's a book list "Using Books to Break the Ice" that Allison McDonald shared on Scholastic. 

Image Source Not Just Cute
If you have older children who wish to get involved with Community Outreach we're sharing resources we find on HEREAnn Curry is inspiring many to join #26ACTS of KindnessPTA has also shared info on how to support with sending snowflakes {no longer accepting but encourage you to reach out into your community}.  There is also an initiative to send child made Hearts to Newtown

We both printed this book from Fun in First for our children about Reassuring Children in School as they came home from school to color and talk about.  Here is a list of Age Related Reactions to Traumatic Events from National Child Traumatic Stress Network to help monitor your child.  Here's a post from the Fred Rogers Company about talking to kids About Dealing with Death 

If you have any resources you recommend please leave a comment and we'll add to our Pinterest Board.  We will continue to update our boards as we search for the best information for you and your child during this time.   

May no child experience tragedy in our World

Visit Sarah Jane Studio to Donate and Print your own copy of this Card

Our After School Pinterest Board is Growing!

Are you following The Educators' Spin On It on Pinterest?  Join 1.6 Million followers,
we're pinning awesome ideas from our favorite sites to save you time online. 

We're excited that our After School Enrichment Pinterest Board has added a few new members!  It's a great place to stop to find ideas for what to do with your children after school and over the holiday break.  Plus we're working to create a board that you can turn to for additional resources when you feel your child need more support in certain subject areas. 

Contributors to our After School Enrichment Board on Pinterest 

Top Pinterest Boards for Holiday Fun with Kids

Top Pinterest Boards for Holiday Fun with Kids

Here at The Educators' Spin On It we love searching the Internet for sources for you and your children.  We spend MANY hours on Pinterest and on the top blogs and websites dedicated to children to find just the right activities for your child.  We'd like to think that we're saving you time online so that you can spend more time with your children off line and to create childhood memories together.  We're pinning with a mom's point of view an Early Childhood Educator's view and a Reading Specialist's view.  It's the best of both worlds a Mom and a Teacher! 

Here's the best part, we've collect the Top Holiday Pinterest Boards for you.  We invite you to check them out and follow along.  In just one short week we'll have our children at home with us over the holiday break and will be looking for activities and last minute handmade gift ideas.  You've found the spot where the best of the best is found each day for the holiday season and truthfully year long activities too! 

Top Holiday Pinterest Boards with Kids

Ways to Play with Peppermint Scented Play Dough

If you give a toddler some home-made peppermint scented play dough, he will start by making a bunch of balls.
When he is finished making balls, he will ask you for some TOOLS!
 You will give him a garlic press and he will make LOTS of spaghetti.  Then he will want another tool.
 You will hand him your wooden rolling pin and he will roll the play dough flat.
 He will want to stick something on it.  You'll hand him some lace.
 He'll press the lace in but want something "better" to push in.  You'll pull out the holiday stamps and he'll stamp away.
 5 minutes later he will pronnounce that he is done, but you'll hand him some treasures. (aka beads)
He will push those treasures into the dough and cover them with more dough for a game of bead hide and seek. 
This game will repeat again and again and again, until he decides that throwing the beads on the floor would be much more fun.

 You'll hand him a Santa card.  He will start pressing playdough on Santa then announce that he is really done.
So you'll roll the playdough back up and pack it away.
Chances are,
that when you give him the playdough again, he will start by making some balls!

This post was inspired by the book If You Take a Mouse to the Movies.  We read it together right before our marathon playdough session which lasted over an hour!

*this post contains affiliate links.

Christmas Tree Fun with Lids

We're sharing a playful games for the holidays with toddlers and preschoolers.  This Christmas Tree Game will provide hours of play plus sneak in a little learning too!  

Christmas Tree Activity Lids for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Have you been collecting lids at your house.  We have and we've been having so much fun with this Christmas Tree Game!  Gather up your lids, any kind will work!  We chose the lids from the Squeezable Food Pouches like Happy Tot Organic , Plum Organics, Ella's Kitchen Organic , Sprout Toddler Organic and Earth's Best Organic  which all a big hit at our house when we're on the go or need a quick backup for fruits and veggies.  

After School Enrichment Community

Did you see that Google+ has just created Communities?  We are so excited about it because it's created an amazing platform for our Sunday After School Express Friends
What are Google + Communities?
Find Communities for your interest
How do you use them?
Why are we choosing After School to focus on for a Community?
We want to create a place for parents to share the resources they've discovered and created to support their child's learning, discoveries, creativeness and fun "After School" .....because learning never ends even after the school bell rings.

Does this sound like something you'd like to join?  Here's the link to our After School Enrichment Community

Once you join you'll see that in our After School Community we have created areas for discussion.  The topics so far include the following...

Outdoor Exploration
Field Trip Adventures
Cooking with Kids
Bilingual Learning
What area are you looking for support for your child with After School? 
We will still continue our After School Express Party here on The Educators' Spin On It so please share your links.  However now we can go over to the After School Enrichment Community and talk about what's working and what we need more support with.  It's almost like bringing the teacher home with you to help with homework.  It can also be like having a friend over for a play date to create things and have fun.  Come join us! 
Here's the link to our Pinterest After School Boards too, trust me you'll want to follow what two teachers find useful for learning at home. 

We would love to have you link up your School-Age Posts (Ages 5 and up) about your learning week after school including, crafts, activities, playtime and adventures that you are doing to enrich your children's lives after their day at school or on the weekend! When linking up, please take a moment to comment on at least one post linked up before yours and grab our after school button to include a link on your post or site! By linking up you're giving permission for us to share on our After School Pinterest Board or Feature on our After School Party next week!
Link up your After School Activities, Crafts and Adventures! We'd love to see them!

Holiday Bear Easy and Budget Friendly DIY Gift

Simple Craft = Simple Gift for Teachers and Friends.

We want our children to learn to think of others during the holiday season, with the ultimate goal of teaching the concept that "giving is better than receiving." We are trying to stay on a budget, but are so fortunate to have so many wonderful friends, neighbors, and teachers to shop for.  For the last two years we have made these adorable snowman candy bars, and I will have to admit, this year I was stuck on what to do.  These guys are really hard to beat.

Personalized Christmas Ornaments Inspired by India

Learning about other cultures during the holidays with kids can be fun.  Here's how to create an ornament using another language.  

  Personalized Ornaments for Kids using a new language
The very first time I arrived in India I stepped out of the car from the airport and heard a very familiar tune.... I stood there for a moment observing the Diwali lights and realized that I was hearing Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells coming from the lights at the house across the street from my husbands home.  The second time I visited was the day after Christmas and you could see homes here and there throughout New Delhi with their Christmas lights and Christmas stars in their windows. Christmas is observed in India if you look for it.

"People from different religions live together and all the festivals are celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm irrespective of the religion." 

Tips for Meaningful Family Mealtime: Snapshot of Parenting with Purpose.

I have a confession. We rarely eat dinner together at the table as a family. Well, at least not every night. We’re lucky if we get the table clear of art supplies and homework and have everyone home and hungry at once to eat around it a few times a week. So when we do have a family dinner, we try to make it special. Not with elaborate recipes or candlelight or anything like that. We make it special with conversation. Here are a few simple conversations starters we’ve used to make our mealtimes more meaningful...

Most/Least Favorite Parts of Day - The kids never let a family meal go by without going around the table and sharing our most favorite and least favorite parts of our day were. I really like including the least favorite parts of the day, too, because it can be a way for us to reinforce the lessons that we learned during difficult times. For example, my kids’ least favorite parts of their days are usually when they had not been getting along or had misbehaved. So we get the chance to reinforce the lessons learned from those times and talk about forgiveness or other family values.

Would You Rather - We always learn a lot about one another (and get lots of giggles) when we play this. We just take turns asking one another silly questions starting with "Would you rather..." Like "Would you rather fly to the moon or swim to the bottom of the sea?" Or "Would you rather be a cowboy or a football player?"
Story Stones - A few months ago I used some spray paint, rubber stamps, and permanent ink to make the kids a set of Story Stones. (You can see the specific supplies I used at the PSA Stamp Camp Blog.) We keep them in a basket on the table and use them to tell silly stories. There's lots of way you can use them, but we usually go around the table and each draw out a random stone and add to the story based on the image on our stones. It makes for some fun stories and lots of laughs.

Krissy is a former art teacher turned full time mama of 3. Blogging at B-Inspired Mama allows her to connect other moms with simple ideas for kid-friendly crafts, easy recipes, learning fun, and creative parenting tips. Connect with Krissy through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Kim's "Spin On It"

Thank you Krissy so much for your ideas for making Mealtime Meaningful with our families.  Krissy has two fantastic parenting series that we contribute to on her site.  One is called Mama Knows Best and the other is called "From the Mouths of Moms".  Some of our favorite that relate to this topic of mealtime are 25 Tips for Cooking with Kids, 25 Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters, and  What's for Dinner.  We encourage you to check them out and let her know we sent you there. 

Family dinner time can become a challenge getting everyone to the table at the same time each evening.  It becomes even harder as kids get older and get involved with after school activities.  Which makes it so important to start that routine when they are young. 

Once you're all there at the table you want to have great conversations with your children to learn about their day.  I love the idea of the story stones.  Both Amanda and I have in laws that visit from another country and live with us for extended times.  I think these would be create for everyone to contribute to.  You never know what your children's grandparents would like to talk about with you and their grandchildren at the dinner table.  For both of us it could also be a language challenge where you use another language to communicate. I remember attempting to use Spanish at the table with my oldest son when he was in middle school and taking Spanish. 

Our Russian Family Dinner Together
We've been enjoying bigger family meals together with each other's families as we've been participating in the Around the World in 12 Dishes Series.  We've been meeting once a month for a few years now actually we a few friends, lots of fun!  On our site we shared about making Russian Food and Indian Food for family night. I've been amazed at how much more interested my daughter who's 6 has become in helping me make food and also to find out what we're eating and where it's from.  I think those are great conversation starters too.  

I'm looking forward to creating some conversation stones or even simply notes in a jar that help build our conversations and relationships at the dinner table.  I'm thinking already of ideas for her suggestions of "Would You Rather" Game. What would you ask?     
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