10 Reasons why this Mom Loves Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is a new app that launched for Android and iOS platforms about a week ago. Chances are, you’ve heard about it, or you’re living under a rock nowhere near a Pokestop. I was hesitant to download the app for my almost-8-year-old. I’m not a fan of games on my phone, I don’t like fighting my kids for possession of my device, and we already have enough electronic distractions in this household. But, after hearing what my friends who were playing the game had to say, I jumped in. And I’m so glad I did!

10 Reasons why this Mom is excited about Pokemon GO!

We have something to talk about.

When my son has questions about the Xbox, or wants to tell me about his favorite Minecraft video, I’ve got nothing. That has changed with Pokemon Go. I downloaded the app, then called him over. He read the professor’s lines to me, and we started the game together. When either of us has questions about parts of the game, we look them up together. I’m not struggling to catch up – in fact, I’m ahead of him on the learning curve, because I look up articles after he’s gone to bed so that I can know new things to teach him tomorrow. We can talk about our favorite Pokestops, when to use the Lure we just got, how close we are to leveling up, and what characters we want to collect enough candy for so that we can make them evolve. I’m speaking my son’s language!

Pokemon Go is our new incentive.

“Get jammies on and brush your teeth… if you’re done by 7:15 I’ll let you use the incense to bring Pokemon to the house until bedtime.”
“Keep that up and there is no more Pokemon for the day.”
“Do a great job, and we’ll head to the park this afternoon.”
“Come to the grocery store with me, there are two Pokestops at the library behind it.”
I don’t know how long it will still be exciting for him to play Pokemon Go, but as long as it lasts, I’m using the game, and the various aspects, to bribe my son reward good behavior. And it costs me nothing but cell phone battery. #Momwin.

playing-Pokemon-Go-with-oth

We’re getting out of the house, and going FUN places.

Last week we went to the park for a picnic. A stranger walking by our house as I was trying to pack the basket while getting the kids ready would have thought that I was about to lead them on a death march to the dentist by way of getting some vaccinations. They couldn’t have been less enthused. Now my son is excited about heading to the park (where there are 6 Pokestops), and is even willing to walk there.

One of the first things I noticed was that the Pokestops are connected to landmarks. The more landmarks in a given area, the easier it is to collect the items you need to play the game. We’re still fairly new to this city, but this gives us a reason to explore fun new places. The map in the game only lets you see about 3 blocks from where you’re standing, so you need to go places to see what there is to see. Also, the places we go aren’t just rocks in the ground – they are parks, libraries, and museums… and are fun for my non-Pokemon playing son, too!

He is willing to walk places.

Willing and excited. In Pokemon Go, one of the items you collect are eggs. Put an egg in an incubator and it will hatch when you walk the specified distance. In the last two days my phone has logged almost 10k of walking! And while walking, we might run into some fun new Pokemon to catch!

 

waiting

I’m teaching him about cell phone safety.

When he learns to drive (which he thinks will be in 8 years or so, but I’m hoping will take much longer than that), he’s going to need to understand cell phone safety. I’m starting to instill that in him now. When we walk into a parking lot, or into a street, his arm has to extend straight down so that it is by his leg. It stays there until we’re on a sidewalk or otherwise safe situation. Even if it vibrates to tell him there is a Pokemon close by. While still young, he’s learning there is a time and place for phones, and a time to NOT have your phone out.

He’s learning basic orienteering.

Pokemon Go is augmented reality – a fantasy world placed on top of our actual world. When he looks at the map in Pokemon Go, he is seeing real places and real streets. He learns to turn the phone in the correct orientation, and walk that direction. It is fairly rudimentary, but learning basic map skills is important – even when Google maps can give you turn-by-turn directions!

catching-a-pokemon

The social aspect.

There is absolutely a social aspect to the game. Meet up with other players, swap battle stories, and learn tips about the game. After level 5, players pick a team (Go Team Instinct!), which gives players something to talk about, if they’ve don’t have any more stories of favorite characters and where they found them. This is such an amazing learning opportunity around appropriate conversations to have (and not have) with new people. So is learning how to open a conversation with another person you’ve never met before.

It is mostly non-violent.

As a mom, I have to add this to my list of great things about the game. Pokemon Go isn’t about running around slaying beasts. In the game you catch and collect the creatures. While there are battles that can take place after level 5, it isn’t warfare. More like a boxing match. And unlike some games where characters simply “regenerate”, your characters take damage that last beyond the battle, that needs to be repaired.

playing-Pokemon-Go-with-oth

He is tethered to me.

Normally, in a public place, my head is on a swivel. Constantly checking to find one son, then the other. They’re often completely oblivious to how far they’ve managed to wander off. Pokemon GO is an app that, because it uses GPS positioning, eats up a phone’s battery life like a mom eating Halloween candy after her kids have gone to bed. To combat this, Pokemon GO users add an external battery to extend their battery life. We do this, but put the external battery in my backpack. My son holds the phone as we walk around. The phone is connected to the cord, the cord is connected to the battery, and the battery is in my backpack… keeping him tethered to me with the charging cable serving as a very intentional leash. We were hanging out in a public place for two hours, and I always knew exactly where he was!

Pokemon Go has him doing math and reading.

Each time we get a new Pokemon, he sounds out and reads their name. This is excellent practice, especially on Pokemon with unusual names. We talk about why a Pokemon’s name might be pronounced a certain way … is Horsea pronounced Horse-sea, or is it Horse-a? We also do math. If we need 7000 points to level up, and we’re at 3500 – how many more XP do we need? If a Pokemon takes 50 Pokecandy, we have 35, and each new character gives us 3… but we get one extra for trading it in, how many more do we need? He’s entering 3rd grade next year, and these word problems are perfect for him!

I’m sure I’ll find other reasons to love this game as it evolves, please leave me your thoughts in the comments below!

 

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Snow Party

Over the winter break my boys and I had a snow party. A great way to celebrate the winter, any time of year!

Snow Party

The Snow Party Included:

Snowy Decor

Food:
Donuts on Sticks
Cakes
Cookies

Activities:
Snowball Fight
LCR with Snowballs
Coffee Filter Snowflakes
Borax Snowflakes

Party Favors
Mini Snow Dough Jars

Snowy Decor

For the Snowy Decor, I put down a blue plastic tablecloth, with snowflakes I cut with the Silhouette. Here is the snowflake file I used.

supplies for snowball backdrop

For the backdrop, I hung white plastic tablecloth, and strung styrofoam balls onto yarn using a doll needle…

pierce ball with needle

And sprayed with glitter blast.

spray with glitter dust

Then hung in front of the white.

snowball party decor

I also hung these large snowflakes cut with the silhouette from the ceiling.

snow decor

Snow Party Food

For the food, I picked out some white treats. Just simple and sugary.

cakes-and-cookies

I also skewered donuts and donut holes onto bamboo skewers and put them in a vase – food that doubles as decor!

Snow Party Activities

We had a snowball fight with our no-melt snowballs.

throwing snowballs

And played Left, Center, Right (a dice game – find it at Target in the games section), using pom poms as chips.

snowball left center right

We played for about 30 minutes, and the kids loved it! My 3 year old had no problem understanding how the game worked – and even ended up winning!

playing left center right with pom pom snowballs

Coffee Filter snowflakes are simple to make, and cost almost nothing. You just need scissors and coffee filters.

supplies for coffee filter snowflakes

Fold the filter in half, then in thirds.

fold coffee filter into thirds

Then cut away. The more cuts, the prettier your snowflake will be.

coffee filter snowflakes

coffee filter snowflakes

Making Borax snowflakes was lots of fun.

Borax Crystal Snowflake

You’ll need:

supplies for borax crystals

Mason Jar
Borax
Scissors
White Pipecleaners
Measuring Spoons
Pencil
String
Boiling Water

Cut the pipecleaner into 3 sections. Make sure the sections are shorter than the diameter of the jar.

cut pipecleaner

Twist together to make the snowflake. Tie a string to the top.

twist together pipe cleaner

Measure 3 Tablespoons of Borax into the jar, then fill with boiling water (kids don’t get to help with this part!). Stir with the pencil, then hang the pipecleaner snowflake in the jar. Allow to sit overnight.

making borax crystals

The next day, you’ll have gorgeous crystals!

finished borax crystals

And, of course, we needed snowy favors, so I made snow dough.

Snow Dough Party Favors

You’ll need:
2 cups Cornstarch
1/2 cup iridescent Glitter
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil

supplies for snow dough

 

Mix ingredients.

mix snow dough together

Put the snow dough into jars.

I used mini jars I found in the wedding section of the craft store.

fill-jars-with-snow-dough

I foiled the snow dough labels. Here is the printable snow dough label file I used, printed on a laser printer onto OL1762 from Online Labels .com.

snow dough labels

I then used a laminator and Thermoweb Decofoil (in blue) to foil the labels.

run foil through machine

foiled snow dough labels

It adds the perfect touch!

finished snow dough favors

The party didn’t take too long to put together, and the kids loved it! They’ll be asking for a snow party every winter!

snowball party decor

 

Over a dozen fun and free sight word games for kindergarten

All week I’ve been sharing with you some fun sight word games. My Kindergartener is not a fan of flashcards (I can’t think of many Kinders that have the patience to sit through flashcard practice), so instead of learning the words through boring repetition, we thought we’d make sight word learning more fun! Here are my sight word games, along with several other fun and free sight word games you can play with your kiddos to help them learn their sight words!

 


http://alwaysexpectmoore.com/2014/03/1210.html

Sight Word Jumping Game

Sight Word Jumping Game

All week long I’ve been sharing different sight word games. Today, I thought I’d share with you a little different way of getting your child excited about sight words. Jumping on the couch. You don’t have to actually have them jump on the couch, they can jump from the floor… but sometimes getting to break mom’s rules makes learning just a little more fun!

Supplies:
Printable Sight Word Cards
Frog Tape

Roll up pieces of frog tape and put them on the back of each sight word card. Use 8 or so cards at a time.

Jumping for Sight Words

Ask your child to pick up a sight word card, calling them by name. “Pick up ‘you’.” “Get ‘he’.” Once they pick up the right word, they bounce on the couch to try to stick the word as high up as possible on the wall. As they put up the words, comment using the words. “Wow! ‘Yes’ is up higher than ‘go’!” “Aw, man! ‘I’ didn’t get as high as ‘me’.”

Once all the words are up, have your child sit next to you, and talk about which word is the highest, which is the lowest, and which are the same height. You’re discussing spacial relationships while also learning sight words! Once you have talked about the words, have your child take down each word, calling out the name of the word as they take it down.

Keep playing, using the same words, or different words.

how high did the sight words go

Your kiddo will have fun, get a little exercise, and learn their sight words!

Sight Word Board Game

Erasable Sight Word Board Game

My Kindergartener loves playing board games. There is something about rolling the dice, and moving his playing piece that he just loves. Since we are working on sight words, I thought I’d make a sight word board game. The problem is – depending on which list you pick, there are hundreds of sight words! This game is great for working on just 6 sight words at a time. Once your child has mastered those six, you can erase the words and write in new ones. You don’t have to re-make the game for each set of words, just use a wet-erase marker and in a few minutes, the game has been re-made with new words! Let me show you how…

Supplies:
supplies for sight word board gameFoam Core
Duck Tape Deco Dry Erase Laminate
Solid Color Duck Tape (I chose red)
Wooden Block
Scissors
Craft Knife
Pencil
Permanent Marker
Wet-Erase Markers (Vis-a-vis)
Favorite candy (to use as playing pieces – my son’s favorite are red Mentos)

Start by cutting the foam-core into a board-game-ish size. You don’t have to be super perfect, just two pieces that are the same size will do.

Stack the two pieces, and tape together with a piece of Duck Tape along one long edge. Trim the excess.

tape pieces together

Cut a piece of the Duck Tape Deco Dry Erase Laminate that is roughly the size of the entire board when open. Open up the taped together foam core, carefully peel off the backing paper, and cover the inside of the board with the Dry Erase Laminate. Then cover all the edges with the duck tape. Before folding over the edges, clip the tape at the fold.

tape edges of board

The board is all put together!

board ready for game

Using your permanent marker, draw a big squiggle on the board, then a second line about 1.5″ from the first. Segment off the lines into boxes. I drew a star at the end to represent the finish.

draw board game

I counted the number of squares, then divided by 6. I wrote the numbers 1-6 randomly this number of times in the boxes. This helps when changing out the sight words.

Now to make the dice! Wooden blocks are inexpensive, so you can buy several, and write a sight word on each face of all the die, using different die when you want to practice different sight words. Or you can make erasable die to go with your erasable board. Start by cutting 6 squares slightly larger than the face of the block.

cut six squares

Peel back the paper and put a square on each face, trimming away the excess.

trim off excess

Cut twelve 1/4″ strips of Duck Tape.

quarter inch strips of Duck Tape

Put the strips along each of the edges of the dice. This will make sure all the edges stay in place through lots and lots of sight word practice!

finished erasable dice

To play, select 6 sight words. Write one on each side of the dice. Pick one side, write that word in all the boxes labeled with 1. Pick a second side, write that word in all the boxes labeled with 2. Repeat with all 6 sides.

write in words

Grab your favorite candy.

Use favorite candies to play a sight word game

Assign each player a piece, and start playing!

Sight Word Board Game played with Candy

Help your young learner out. Make sure all the words are facing their direction to make them easy to read. After the die is rolled, turn it to make it easy for them to read each time.

Each player takes turns rolling, then advances their candy to the next matching word on the board. When they get to the end and roll a word that there are no more of, they put their candy on the star, and win! When each player reaches the end, they get to eat their candy – everyone is a winner!

If you’re playing with a child who has sticky or sweaty fingers, you might need to keep your marker handy so you can re-write in the words as you play.

sight word dice after playing

Sight Word Matching Game

Play a Sight Word Matching Game

Playing “Memory” with Sight Words is a great way to help children interact with their sight words! To keep the game manageable, don’t start with an entire table covered with sight word cards. Start with 3 pairs, then work your way up to more. When you see your child start to get frustrated, use less pairs. The goal is to have your child interact with the words, recognize the words, and have fun. When they get frustrated, the game is no longer fun, and they won’t get as much learning out of it. Plus, they won’t want to play in the future.

To play the Sight Word Matching game, you need to print up duplicates of the Free Sight Word Printable Flashcards. Instead of making it a “Me vs. You” game, I paired up with my Kindergartener to help him. He got to turn over two cards, we identified the words, then turned them back over if they didn’t match. If they did match, we put them in a pile next to him. Once he got all 3 pairs, I put down three more pairs. You could play Sight Word Memory as a two-player game, where each person tries to find the most pairs, but I decided that I wanted only one goal when playing this game: have fun learning sight words. I didn’t want that goal to compete with other lessons like taking turns and sportsmanship. Those are valuable lessons, but not ones I wanted to focus on for this exercise.

Sight Word Matching Game

 

Sight Word Go Fish

Sight Word Go Fish Game

Are you ready for another fun sight word game? This game uses the Sight Word Printable Flashcards from yesterday. You’ll want to print out 3 pages, 2 copies of each. Any more than that, and the game will get too long to keep most youngsters interested. But feel free to pick out more, and just use 20-25 pairs each time you play.

We played a two player game. Our kindergartener is still learning his sight words, so he hung out in dad’s lap while I played against them. I think kids like to learn when they get to be in your lap. And it made the game more fun and didn’t put a lot of pressure on him to know all of his sight words. Great for an emerging learner.

Deal Cards for Sight Word Go Fish

Here is how to play:
Use 20-25 pairs of words (so, two cards of each word)

Deal 8 cards to each player, if playing with two people. If playing with more than two people, deal 6 to each. Put the remainder in a pile, face down, in the middle.

The first player selects a card from their hand, and asks another player if they have the matching card in their hand. “Do you have ‘the’ in your hand?”

If the second player does, they surrender the card to the first player. The first player lays the pair in front of them, they have a point! The first player continues, asking for a specific sight word card.

When the player encounters a “no”, they are told, “no, go fish!” They draw a card from the pile in the middle, and their turn is over. UNLESS they draw the card they were looking for. They then get to say “Fished what I wanted!” Their turn continues.

Each time a player doesn’t get the card they want, the next player in the circle gets a turn.

When someone runs out of cards in their hand, they pull the top two cards from the deck.

Keep playing until there are no more cards. The person with the most points wins.

pairs of sight word go fish game

Sight Word Flashcard Printables

Printable Sight Word Flashcards

I’ve made some sight word flashcard printables for you. But I’m going to ask you to NOT use them like normal flashcards. Ok, maybe sometimes. But rarely. Because flashcards are boring. Maybe don’t even call them sight word flashcards. Maybe call them Sight Word Game Cards. Because while you can use these Sight Word Flashcard Printables like standard flashcards, you should really use these sight word flashcards for playing games. Yesterday I shared my Sight Word Jumping Frog Game, and I’ll be sharing more fun sight word games later this week… for some of them you need flashcards ahem, I mean Game Cards. So I thought I’d whip some up for you.

I have 8 pages of flashcards, each with 8 words. I used the Dolch Sight Words for Primer and Pre-Primer. I didn’t include all of them, so I added a blank sheet if you want to make more. I made them in PhotoShop Elements, the font is Quick Type (size: 60 pt).

Print the Sight Word Flashcard Printables out on cardstock – plain or a light color if you like. I’d suggest printing two sets while you’re at it, because some games require duplicates.

Sight Word Flashcard Printables

Sight Word Flashcards Page 1 – the, to, and, a, I, you, it, in

Sight Word Flashcards Page 2 – for, up, is, go, we, can, see, not

Sight Word Flashcards Page 3 – one, my, me, big, come, where, here, make

Sight Word Flashcards Page 4 – he, was, that, she, on, they, but, at

Sight Word Flashcards Page 5 – with, all, there, out, be, have, am, do

Sight Word Flashcards Page 6 – did, what, so, get, like, this, will, yes

Sight Word Flashcards Page 7 – went, are, now, no, came, good, too, saw

Sight Word Flashcards Page 8 – well, who, new, must, soon, ate, say, please

Sight Word Flashcards Page – blank (boxes only – no words)

 

Jumping Frog Sight Word Game

happy playing with sight words

My oldest is in Kindergarten, and they are doing a big push on knowing sight words. I’ve been flipping through sight word flashcards with him for a couple months with little progress. Who likes sight word flashcards? Nobody. Especially wiggly 5-year-old boys! I was reading an article about including more play in a kindergartener’s education, so I decided I would come up with some fun sight word games. And I enlisted my friend Abigail from Lovin our Chaos to join me this week! When she’s not blogging, she is a kindergarten teacher, so who better to talk about letters and sight words?

Today I’m sharing a super simple Sight Word game, you just need two things – some jumping frogs and a pack of Vis-a-Vis (wet erase) markers.

supplies to make jumping frog sight words

Write your sight words on the frogs, then try to jump the frogs into the bowl, as normal.

play jumping frog sight words

While playing, use the words on the frogs as if they are the names of the frogs.

“You got THE in!”  “Try to get HE in!” “Wow THE jumped super far!”

My goal wasn’t to replace paper flashcards with pastic frog-shaped ones. The goal was to include sight words in a fun activity. Making the words fun, no-pressure, and approachable.

frogs hopping into bowl

With a wet paper towel, I can wipe off the words, and switch them up for new ones.

If you’re looking for more, check out these Alphabet Letter Cards with Sound Pictures that Abby is sharing today!

Pixel Art Sprites with M&Ms #fueledbyMM

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and its client. mario mm sprite #FueledByMM #shop

Last week, I got crafty with the boys and M&M candies making 8-bit sprites. These are super fun and easy to make! First, I headed off to Walmart to buy big 42-oz bags of M&Ms. While there, I bought tubs of frosting, aluminum foil, and foamcore board.

You can, if you like, just use M&Ms on a table… but knowing I was going to be putting these together with two little “helpers”, I knew that bumps, knocks, and other accidental movements. All the other supplies prevent “oops” from turning into “OH NO!!” And when working with kids, that is a must!

I looked online for patterns to use. You can make up your own, but searching for cross-stitch patterns and Perler Bead patterns gets great results. I then printed out my patterns so we would have them handy while creating.

I measured out my M&Ms so I would know how big to cut my foamcore. (19 MMs for every 10 inches is what I came out with)

measure candies

I cut the foamcore a little larger than needed for each pattern, then covered with foil.

foil covered cardboard #FueledByMM #shop

I did a test with my youngest on a scrap of foamcore – we made a “candle” from his favorite game for Xbox – Minecraft. The foamcore was coated with a light layer of frosting before starting. This frosting acts as an edible glue to keep the M&Ms in place. Perfect for my little helpers!

minecraft sprite #shop

Once we got the hang of it, we all worked on our pieces…

baby sprites #FueledByMM #shop

…even my husband got involved, making a racing helmet.

j making his sprite #FueledByMM #shop

 

making as a family #FueledByMM #shop

We made sprites based on our favorite games. Here is the finished Angry Bird:

angry birds sprite #FueledByMM #shop

A racing helmet, perfect for a Forza 5 fan!

helmet sprite #FueledByMM #shop

And also to honor the launch of the new Forza 5 game… a classic racing game… Mario Kart!

Mario 8 bit sprite #FueledByMM #shop

… he looks a little jaundiced.

L also made this creation, which he says is his “house” in Minecraft. We all really got into this project!

placing mms #FueledByMM #shop

We had such a blast doing this as a family… and the best part is that we will be posting our pictures on Instagram and can WIN an Xbox One! Here are all the details:

Get creative with M&M’s® and win an Xbox One gaming with M pack! (and everyone can get $10 back on their M&Ms and Forza 5 purchase with the Buy-Snap-Redeem promo – details below)

Create your own Pixel Art using M&M’s (R) candies and snap an Instagram Photo. Tag your image with #FueledByM AND #Contest and post the image on Instagram and Twitter.

One lucky Pixel Artist will win a new Xbox One and Gaming is better with M pack including the Forza 5 Motorsport game and a 14 oz bag of M&Ms(R).  Contest runs Dec. 4th – Dec. 18th and winner will be chosen at random.

Find full legal rules here.

Buy, Snap, Redeem Details

  • Buy Forza 5 game
  • Buy participating M&M’s products
  • (Participating products include: M&Ms Peanut 42oz Stand Up Pouch, M&Ms Milk 42oz Stand Up Pouch, M&Ms Peanut Butter 38oz Stand Up Pouch, M&Ms Pretzel 30oz Stand Up Pouch, M&Ms Peanut 19.2oz Large Laydown Bag, M&Ms Milk 19.2oz Large Laydown Bag, M&Ms Peanut Butter 18.4oz Large Laydown Bag, M&Ms Pretzel 15.4oz Large Laydown Bag.)
  • Snap a photo of qualifying items on the receipt on your phone and text it to 811811. Include the code M&M with the picture of your receipt. Game and M&M’s must be purchased on the same receipt.
    Redeem:  You will receive a text back with a reward code valid for a $10 eGift card to Walmart.