Tag Archives: read

Cooking with Kids

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One of the activities that my kids really enjoy doing is cooking. They especially like helping me make breakfast. During the school week, I normally whip up something quick: oatmeal, frozen waffles, and maybe scrambled eggs. So on the weekends, I treat the whole family to a big breakfast—usually pancakes made from scratch, a ham and cheese quiche, or french toast.

When I start taking out the pots and pans I usually find one of my kids standing right behind me waiting to help. They love to help Mommy cook, and now that they are getting older I love letting them help me. When they were younger, it was a tricky process and sometimes a time-consuming process.  A healthy dose of patience while the little hands scooped out a cup of this or a spoon of that went a long way.

Now that everyone is old enough to read, my little chefs are actually good helpers.  Everyone knows how to crack eggs or how to measure a cup of milk. We have a good system in place where we work together to gather the ingredients.  We start first with scanning the recipe to determine what needs to be done and then divide up the work in advance. Dividing up the tasks helps us make sure that we don’t add twice or triple the ingredients needed and gives everyone a chance to help.

Cooking with kids is not only a fun activity to do with your kids but it also helps with reading and math skills. If we are doubling a recipe, my fourth greater can practice adding his fractions while my kindergartner practices basic addition. Reading the recipe very carefully helps ensure that the food you make tastes yummy; yes, we learned that the hard way. (Doubling the baking soda really makes for yucky tasting pancakes!) In addition to working on these skills, kids are likely to try new things and eat their vegitables if they helped prepare the meal.

If you haven’t tried cooking with your kids yet, go ahead and give it a try. Your kids will really enjoy it!

Here are a few of my tips to get you started

  1. Start with easier recipes that are “forgiving” if you add a little extra or too little of this and that.
  2. Always keep safety in mind and remind your kids of the safety rules before you start your dish. My rules are simple: wash hands before cooking or after touching meat or eggs, and never go near the hot stove.
  3. Kids take pride in the work and can become very talented chefs. If you give them a task that’s too hard, you may discourage them from enjoying the activity and cooking again in the future. Assign age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen. Kids between 3-5 are great at putting in the ingredients that you have pre-measured. They also love to mix. Older kids are good at measuring and gathering the ingredients.
  4. Every chef needs the right tools in the kitchen. My kids have their own aprons and a stool to help them reach the counter. There are some really great cookbooks made with junior chefs in mind, but you don’t need to limit yourself to just those cookbooks.
  5. Give yourself enough time to prep and make the food. You won’t be able to rush through the process, and if you try to, you’ll stress yourself and the kids out.
  6. Have fun with it! It’s a great activity for the kids, and they will cherish the moment (and the food!).

Do you cook with your kids? What are some of your favorite things to make with them?

Crafts and Activities Inspired by Books

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I am a big believer in learning by doing. Although seatwork is important in school, I like to show my children that they can learn and have fun at the same time, whether it is measuring in the kitchen, counting outside, or hands-on field trips.

On my blog Create-Celebrate-Explore I try to show parents that learning can be incorporated into almost any activity. When hiking we play games along the way, the kids count the different types of animals or varieties of flowers, they do bark rubbings and learn about the seasons and how things change. In the kitchen they practice measuring and we teach them what each of the different utensils is used for.

The twins began kinder this fall and Flynn is already reading short sentences. He has always been fascinated with books. He is the one who is more academically inclined; he takes after his dad. He loves having books read to him and has always wanted to learn how to read. He also loves math, building, and sorting patterns. Marisol is more creative; she gets that from me. Although she loves to be read too, and loves books, her passion is art and crafts. At home she is frequently drawing and writing notes and loves to help out in the kitchen.

So, here on Rusty and Rosy I will be bringing my children’s loves together and sharing crafts and activities that have been inspired by books we are reading at home.

Does your child have any favorite books? If you are after ideas for related activities to do with them, just let me know and I’ll be sure to come up with some ideas for you.

Learning Differences within the Family

As a mom of three kids of vastly different ages I notice the differences in how each of them learn.  Our oldest is a high school student and she has excelled in every subject in her school career.  She has always loved to read, be involved in discussions, and ask tons of questions about the world around her.  Her study style needs some adjustment; test taking is not her specialty.

Our boy is a third grader.  He’s not the brainiac like his big sister but he also does very well in school; he just has to work harder at it.  He’s got a great imagination, loves to tell stories, be involved in every activity, and is a technology lover.  He can master a video game in a few hours but huffs and puffs when it’s time to read a book.  I’ve noticed that he’s easily distracted; his eyes move too fast, faster than his mouth can say the words.  Maybe he’s trying to get through it too get the chore done; maybe reading words on a page bores him. His test scores are on top though so something is working for him.

Our four-year-old seems to be a combination of both.  While she can’t read yet she loves doing writing and math worksheets, leafing through storybooks, and singing songs.  She’s also quite the little gamer.  She can work an iPod better than me and picks up the rules of computer games very quickly.  She’s got a kind heart and will share whatever she has in her hands.  Having older siblings is rubbing off on her well. She’s getting the best of each of them without losing her own personality.

Embracing each child’s individuality in learning and playing is important.  While we all want our children to have a successful future, the path getting there may be different for each of them.   Take a step back and watch before correcting.  The methods may differ but the end result should be the same: joyful, intelligent, imaginative children that want to continue to learn.

Feature photo curtesy of GettyImages.

Teach with Stories

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Have you ever noticed that you tend to pay more attention to what someone is saying when they tell you a story? Stories have always been a big part of conveying information. I’m sure that the guy, or woman, who invented the wheel had a great story to tell for many years about how the new invention came to be. Or how about the person who discovered the corn? I’m sure that was a great story.

Our children are drawn to stories just as much as we are, most likely even more so. And we can find all sorts of ways to teach them important skills and concepts through story: reading, writing, vocabulary, manners, friendships, honesty, cleaning their room. . . . The possibilities, like in many things, are endless.

Here are just a few ideas you can use to teach your child through story:

Read to Your Child

Even fiction books have a lot to teach. It was someone named Jessamyn West who said, “Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.” I’ve always believed that the fiction books I read have a lot to teach. Although it may be my own bias and defense speaking, I think Clifford the Big Red Dog has quite a bit to teach children, such as the love a girl can have for her pet.

Write Stories with Your Child

Creating stories helps develop critical thinking skills. There are so many components to a story: plot, characters, setting, conflict. . . . As your child creates their own stories, you can teach about these different story pieces. Plus, as your child puts the pieces together to form a story, they will learn to think through and solve problems, an important skill for everything they will encounter in life.

Tell True Stories from Your Own Life

I remember when my parents would tell me about what life was like when they went to school. Many concepts from their stories have stayed with me. Even words from my grandpa’s stories come back to me from time to time, especially from when he told me how he learned the three Rs in school: Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic).

I’m sure there are other ways you can teach your child through story. What do you think? Have a good experience to share?

Building Your Child’s Vocabulary

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Do you remember when you were in school and your teacher would give you a list of vocabulary words to learn? How well did you learn the words?

Of course, depending on your teacher’s methods you might have learned all vocabulary words with relative simplicity, or it might have been more difficult to remember certain vocabulary words after the tests were finished. Usually, when I would forget the vocabulary words after taking a test it was because I wasn’t exposed to the use of the words. They were words I rarely or never heard or did not use myself.

So how can you teach your child vocabulary?  Here are a few suggestions:

Have Effective Conversations

The other day I listened as my sister-in-law had a natural conversation with my four-year-old niece. What did they talk about? Shoes, jobs teenagers have, nicknames, butterflies. . . . The conversation went in so many interesting directions and my niece had such amazing responses and questions, I had to catch what I could on video. I was amazed at what my niece knew at her age and the answers she came up with to her mother’s questions. And some of the words my niece used: wow! It’s all because her mom has effective conversations with her children, talking with them and listening to them.

I’ve heard it on the news. I’ve read it in books. Talking is the best way to help build your child’s speech. The more words your child hears, the more words your child will learn.

Read with Your Child

I know. It’s one of those suggestions you hear over and over again. But it does work. Think of all the words children learn from Curious George and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Reading helps children hear words used in new ways, through imagination and creativity that, many times, also teach important concepts.

Welcome Questions

Your child is full of curiosity about the world. You can help your child gain a better understanding by encouraging questions. Some of those questions may be, “What does that word mean?” Take the time to answer your child and help him or her understand. Knowing that his or her questions can and will be answered will foster excitement for learning in your child.

Have you had any good or bad experiences helping your child learn new vocabulary? Have any other suggestions to help teach vocabulary to children? Please share.

Photo source: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 Reasons Why We Read with Our Children

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We’ve all heard it a million times: Read to your children. It helps develop pre-reading skills. It’s good quality time to spend with your child. It’s your duty and obligation as a parent.

Okay, so maybe that last one is a bit strong but don’t we have a responsibility as parents to help our children? The point is that those who tell us to read to our children usually have very good reasons for telling us to do so.

Here are ten reasons that I have come up with why we should read to our children:

  1. It’s quality time with our children.
  2. It’s educational.
  3. It provides great teaching opportunities.
  4. It inspires creativity.
  5. It gives our children a perspective on the world around them.
  6. Books such as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day help our children feel better.
  7. It’s a positive way to put our children to sleep at the end of the day.
  8. It keeps our children quiet for about 10 minutes. . . . Sometimes more, sometimes less.
  9. We like the illustrations and stories too.
  10. What else are we going to do with all those books?

I’m sure there are plenty more reasons to read to our children and I would love to hear about them during our very first Twitter Party about “How to Raise a Reader”. I hope you will join me on September 8th at 7pm PST/10pm EST, where we will be talking with @BusyMommyMedia about early reading and how to help our children learn.  We will also answer questions at the end of the party regarding our Learning Circle blogger program.

#MomStorm Twitter Party


Hosted by @BusyMommyMedia
Please RSVP at
BusyMommyMedia.com to be eligible for the giveaways during the party
Date: Thursday, September 8, 2011
Time: 7:00-8:00 pm PST / 10:00-11:00 pm EST
Hashtag:  #MomStorm