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October 22, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
2 Comments

Speak up! How to Effectively Communicate with Your Child’s Teacher

Teachers have a lot of influence in your child’s life. And since you two are supposed to be the same team in trying to ensure your child is successful in school, it’s important to know how to effectively communicate with your child’s teacher. I’m offering up some ideas you can use to ensure you do that.

After working with my son this summer, I knew he was going to have some problems going into the school year. Instead of waiting, I picked up the phone and reached out to our principal to let her know that we were going to have to work as a team this year to help keep my son on track. The first phone call can sometimes be the hardest but it always better to reach out now than to discover something later.

Speak up! How to Effectively Communicate with Your Child's Teacher | The Jenny Evolution

Here are some tips on how to effectively community with your child’s teacher:

* As soon as you can, make an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher. If you can do that before the school year begins and there’s no pressure on either of you, it might be the best choice. However, that’s not always possible or realistic. By starting your relationship off early, there won’t be problems to contend so it should help it start on the right foot. Then, later in the year, if your child does have problems, you’ll already have effective communication established with your child’s teacher. Don’t wait until there is a problem before you meet your child’s teacher. If you’re already into the school year, it’s not too late! Call now to connect with your teachers. Don’t wait until a mid-year conference to find out something is going on with your kiddo at school.

* Let the teacher know you want to be considered a partner in your child’s education. Ask them what you can do to help your child. Ask them how you can extent the learning process at home. Reach out via email and You may be surprised at their suggestions.

* Find out when your child’s teacher has a break during the day. If you have an opportunity, stop by the school to see if there’s something you can do to help them. You can also become involved in the parent-teacher organization or volunteer to help in your child’s classroom. What better way to keep a pulse on how your child is doing than by having a presence within the actual classroom.

* Many teachers, especially of younger children, send a notebook or some other type of communication home with your child at the end of the week. Be sure to take the time to look through your child’s backpack or notebook for any notes they may send. Then, once you’ve read them, you can either send a note in response or simply initial it so they know you have read it.

* At some point you may notice a problem your child’s teacher may not be aware of. Has there been a death in the family? Are their problems at home between family members? Send a note to your child’s teacher or call them to bring them up to speed on the situation. Just because you don’t see a change in behavior doesn’t mean the teacher doesn’t. Your child may begin to show out or cause disruptions in class and this knowledge will help the teacher understand why and how to manage it.

* Follow through with any promises you’ve made. If you say you’re going to something, be sure to follow through. Of course, there may be circumstances where you won’t be able to, but you’ll want to let the teacher know what’s going on.

You are your child’s best advocate. Remember the importance of knowing when to communicate and how often to communicate with your child’s teacher. Learning how to effectively communicate with your child’s teacher can make all the difference in your child’s educational success.

October 21, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
1 Comment

Chocolate Gingerbread Man Mummy Cookies

Looking for a fun activity to do with the kids this Halloween? Try out these fun Mummy Cookies in the shape of Chocolate Gingerbread Men!

Looking for more great Halloween ideas? Be sure to check out my collection of Halloween tips, ideas, activities, recipes and more for the entire family.

Mummy Cookies for Halloween | The Jenny Evolution

You are more than welcome to make these cookies from scratch. You can find a terrific recipe for Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies here. But as many of you know, I believe in making life easy. So I completely cheated and used a terrific cookie kit from Wilton that you can find at Walmart that already includes the cooked cookies.

The thing I love about these mummy cookies is you don’t have to be an icing extraordinaire to make them look good. And it’s so easy even the kiddos can do it.

To make the decorations on the kiddos, use a flat, wider icing tip. Create vertical lines with the icing criss-crossing on the arms and legs. Then create horizontal lines on the body. Leave a slight gap on the head and add two black dots of icing for the eyes.

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To make these Mummy Cookies, consider the following affiliate links:

Looking for more great Halloween ideas? Be sure to check out my collection of Halloween tips, ideas, activities, recipes and more for the entire family.

200+ Halloween Tips, Tricks and Treats on The Jenny Evolution

October 20, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
2 Comments

15 Memorable Picture Books About Cats

15 Memorable Picture Books About Cats: Find these books at your local library or purchase through the affiliate links provided for your convenience. All recommendations are mine.

Can anything beat the purring and soft fur of a kitty cat? Thousands of kids (and adults) will tell you absolutely not! Embrace your inner feline, curl up with a good book  and share these memorable picture books about cats with your kiddos. Purring is optional.

Pete the Cat has been a long favorite of my boys since we received it as a gift. Be sure to check out the CD version. The tune is incredibly catchy! Hondo & Fabian is a sweet tale that my kiddos love. And Splat the Cat… well, this cat is humorous and sweet at the same time. We love every story with Splat.

I write so often about books, I’ve put them in one central location and created a collection of all of my book lists on The Jenny Evolution! Find more great reading book lists here.

15 Memorable Picture Books about Cats | The Jenny Evolution

For an extended list of irresistible cats, visit my list of Memorable Picture Books About Cats on Amazon.

 


Mr. Wuffles! (Caldecott Medal – Honors): A cat named Mr. Wuffles doesn’t care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He’s much more interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens—but the ship wasn’t designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble. When the space visitors dodge the cat and take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. The result? A humorous exploration of cooperation between aliens and insects, and of the universal nature of communication involving symbols, “cave” paintings, and gestures of friendship.


Little Beauty: Once there was a very special gorilla who had almost everything he needed. There was only one thing he didn’t have: a friend. With no other gorillas at the zoo, the keepers try something new. Will the gigantic ape strike a bond with another sort of creature, one as tiny and innocent as a kitten? Sparked by the story of a real gorilla who learned to sign, Little Beauty is a celebration of a most surprising friendship.


Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes: Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries, and other big messes! But no matter what color his shoes are, Pete keeps movin’ and groovin’ and singing his song…because it’s all good. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes asks the reader questions about the colors of different foods and objects.


Hondo and Fabian: A dog named Hondo and his friend Fred are going to the beach for a day of excitement. Fabian the cat is left behind at home to play with the baby. Who will cause more trouble? And who will have more fun?


Splat the Cat Storybook Collection: his storybook collection will have Splat the Cat fans laughing out loud at his hilarious antics! From visiting the aquarium to camping out, these six Splat tales are funnier than ever—and now for the first time, they’re available together in a collection.

Fuddles: Fuddles is a fat, lazy housecat who’s never been in the Great Outdoors. One day, his humans leave the door open a crack and Fuddles seizes the chance to slip out, but things aren’t quite as he expected. In a series of hilarious mishaps, including a run-in with the neighborhood dog, he realizes that life as he’d known it was actually pretty good. Told with deadpan humor and charming art, Fuddles is sure to steal readers’ hearts.


Raj the Bookstore Tiger: Being a bookstore tiger is hard work. There’s much patrolling, and a lot of sitting in laps at story hour, and then there’s sleeping in the window display. But Raj is up to the task. He is fierce and proud—until Snowball comes along. The new cat in the bookstore informs Raj that he’s just a marmalade kitty-cat. Times get tough, then, for the bookstore tiger. But bookstore and Raj owner Felicity, with the help of poet William Blake, knows how to fix things. In turn, with a very special book, Raj is able to fix things with Snowball.


Wabi Sabi: Wabi Sabi, a little cat in Kyoto, Japan, had never thought much about her name until friends visiting from another land asked her owner what it meant.


I Must Have Bobo!: When Willy woke up there was trouble. Where was Bobo? Willy needs Bobo. But, Earl the cat likes Bobo, too. A favorite toy is hard to share…even when it’s a sock monkey. With sparse text and a modern-nostalgic vibe, this retro-fun book about friends (sock monkeys) and frenemies (devious cats) is an ode to favorite toys everywhere.


Skippyjon Jones: Skippyjon Jones is no ordinary kitten. Oh, no. . . .He’s actually El Skippito, a great sword-fighter ready to battle banditos the world over! With a little imagination and a whole lot of fun, this frisky cat dons a mask and cape and takes on a bad bumble-beeto to save the day. And along the way, he’ll be sure to steal young reader’s hearts, yes indeed-o!


Chester: Chester is more than a picture book. It is a story told, and retold, by dueling author-illustrators. Melanie Watt starts out with the story of a mouse in a house. Then Melanie’s cat, Chester, sends the mouse packing and proceeds to cover the pages with rewrites from his red marker, and the gloves are off. Melanie and her mouse won’t take Chester’s antics lying down. And Chester is obviously a creative powerhouse with confidence to spare. Where will this war of the picture-book makers lead? Is it a one-way ticket to Chesterville, or will Melanie get her mouse production off the ground?


Cat Jumped In!: When someone leaves the kitchen window open, Cat jumps in! So begins the tale of an outdoor cat who finds his way into a tidy house, wreaking havoc at every turn. That is, until he finds his way in once more–this time into someone’s heart. Beautiful, bright watercolors from Caldecott-winning illustrator Emily Arnold McCully nearly spring off the page, buoyed by a playful text that highlights simple prepositions.


Cat the Cat, Who Is That?: Cat the Cat sure likes her friends. You will too! Join this spunky feline as she introduces the very youngest readers to her world, where a surprise is waiting in every book!


Kitten’s First Full Moon: It is Kitten’s first full moon, and when she sees it she thinks it is a bowl of milk in the sky. And she wants it. Does she get it? Well, no . . . and yes. What a night! The nationally bestselling picture book about a kitten, the moon, and a bowl of milk, written by the celebrated author and illustrator Kevin Henkes, was awarded a Caldecott Medal.


Bad Kitty’s Very Bad Boxed Set (#1): Hack up those fur balls, sharpen those claws because we’ve got three Bad Kitty adventures coming your way! In this compilation, get a terrific grouping of Bad Kitty’s adventures.

For an extended list of irresistible cats, visit my list of Memorable Picture Books About Cats on Amazon.

October 16, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
11 Comments

Friday Flash Blog No. 90 {Plus Features}

Friday Flash Blog is a flash mob of blogs, highlighting the best of bloggers from the week. Be sure to check them out (and the ones I’ve featured) as well as link up your own.

Weekly Thought: Sunny weekends like this last one makes me thankful I live in a part of the country where we experience four seasons. Ask me if I feel the same way when we hit January. Ha!

DIY Chevron Lazy Susan Tutorial from Sew Sweet Vintage

DIY Chevron Lazy Susan Tutorial from Sew Sweet Vintage

5 Simple Fall Outdoor Activities from Mommy Loves Trees

5 Simple Fall Outdoor Activities from Mommy Loves Trees

How to Cook a Pumpkin. Great ideas from Lil Parent Source

How to Cook a Pumpkin. Great ideas from Lil Parent Source

12 Favorite Apps for Teaching Kids Geography. Recommendations from Kids Are a Trip

12 Favorite Apps for Teaching Kids Geography. Recommendations from Kids Are a Trip

Halloween Paper Candy Cups Craft. Terrific craft for party giveaways from The Jenny Evolution

Halloween Paper Candy Cups Craft. Terrific craft for party giveaways from The Jenny Evolution

Friday Flash Blog is a Flash Mob of Blogs

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October 16, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
4 Comments

15+ Learning Shapes for Toddlers Activities

Learning shapes isn’t just a fun activities for toddlers, it’s also the building blocks to math. So dive into these learning shapes for toddlers activities and start the love and understanding of math early.

Every week you can find amazing projects, crafts and activities to do with your kids with the Kids Co-Op, and I’ll be highlighting some of them with a common theme. This week’s theme is learning shapes for toddlers.

15+ Learning Shapes for Toddlers Activities | The Jenny Evolution

Shape Button Sort | School Time Snippets

Exploring 3D Shapes | Suzie’s Home Education Ideas

Sponge Stamped Triangle Collage | Buggy and Buddy

Button Bingo: A Color & Shape Activity for Tots & Preschoolers | School Time Snippets

Flower Shape Sort | School Time Snippets

Guess the Shapes Activity & Scissors Practice | Artsy Momma

Triangle Ship Craft and Shape Matching Game | I Heart Crafty Things

Shape Art Activity for Kids | Love, Play, Learn

Light Box Shapes | Adventures of Adam

Geometry for Kids: Finding Shapes at the Playground | Buggy and Buddy

Circle Print Art | Craft Ideas for Kids

FREE Shape Coloring Pages | 3 Dinosaurs

Toddler Art with Shapes | In the Playroom

Free Shape Playdough Mats | 3 Dinosaurs

Gruffalo Themed Shape Animals | The Educator’s Spin On It

Bubble Wrap Shape Printing | Multicraftingmummy

Math Lesson: Finding Shapes and Patterns Everywhere! | Crafty Moms Share

A Homemade Shape Stamp | mama. papa. bubba.

The-Weekly-Kids-Co-Op-150px-Button


October 15, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
0 comments

Autumn Fall Festival a Slice of Americana at Stade’s Farm

Did you know it’s possible to enjoy a slice of Americana without the calories? This weekend, we discovered the Shades of Autumn Fall Festival at Stade’s Farm & Market, who were kind enough to offer us tickets so we could experience this fabulous place.

Every fall, Stade’s Farm (located in McHenry, Ill.) turns their farmstead into a delightful autumn family destination. And really, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect slice of Americana. They have decided to leave behind the Halloween decorations and themes and have created a completely family-friendly destination for kids of all ages (and yes, that includes my husband).

Being located on the Northshore of Chicago, we had a bit of a drive, but from our perspective it was absolutely worth it. Don’t believe me? We got to the farm an hour after it opened and left 6 hours later towards closing time. Trust me, there is a ton to do. Check out a 360 view of the farm!

I was lucky enough to meet Vern, the owner of Stade’s Farm, who has been farming since his early 20s. He started with just one attraction more than 20 years ago at Stade’s and has added a new attraction every year. Now they have more than 25!

After being in the car, the boys instantly jumped at the chance to take the pedal-powered Go Karts. These things are awesome! Because we arrived early, there wasn’t a line so the boys were able to ride and ride and ride for about 20 minutes total.

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My kids also loved loved loved the Corn Play Area, which is a massive pit of dried corn kernels the kids can play in. This is the ultimate sensory bin if I ever saw one. My boys were in there for almost half an hour burying each other in corn, swimming in corn and smiling from ear to ear (pun completely intended).

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They also adored the jumping pillows. Even my husband and I got in on the action.

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I enjoyed trying out the adult zip line (along with some other moms that were in line) and the corn maze. My husband and I also got a huge kick out of the pumpkin cannon which launches pumpkins at least half a mile if not more!

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We also took a hay ride out to their pumpkin patch and got to pick our pumpkins right off of the vine! That was really cool. And my boys started flipping out with excitement when they realized they could walk through the massive pumpkin patch themselves. Oh, and be sure to visit the marketplace.There were loads of fresh veggies and fruits to buy, and the apple cider donuts were pure heaven!

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If you’re within driving distance of Stade’s Farm, I can’t say enough about visiting. It’s a whole package of family fun.

Heads up, friends! You can enjoy a 10% discount off of your total admission every Friday in October, including Halloween. For their closing weekend (Nov 1 & 2), they’re offering 1/2 price off all admissions. And on Sunday mornings, they even offer a nondenominational church service

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There are too many wonderful amusements to highlight, but other attractions you should definitely check out include: petting zoo, jumpies, slide mountain, giant sandbox and tractor tire pyramid.

We saw these at Stade’s Farm and now we all want one! Here are the affiliated links:

 

 

October 15, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
5 Comments

My Husband Ate the Skinnygirl Hummus… and I’m Mad

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Skinnygirl. I received a product sample and a promotional item to facilitate my review.

Ever since going to college in Boulder, I have been a hummus fan. Back then, only “crunchy” and hyper fit/natural people ate hummus. You know the type — basically modern day hippies. But a friend introduced me to hummus sandwiches and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Nowadays, hummus has really gone mainstream. Thank goodness! But while I love the healthy deliciousness of hummus, I don’t love all of the calories. When Skinnygirl asked if I’d like to try out their new hummus, I was thrilled. Could it actually taste good and have less calories? The simple answer is YES!

My Husband At the Skinnygirl Hummus... and I'm Mad | The Jenny Evolution #NowThisisSkinnyDipping #Sponsored #MC

If you haven’t heard about Skinnygirl yet, they’re best known for delicious low-calorie cocktails. But the company has recently expanded its portfolio to include non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and microwave popcorn. I was sent the Skinnygirl Roasted Red Hummus, but it also comes in Classic, Cilantra Jalapeno and Roasted Garlic.

My Husband Ate the Skinnygirl Hummus

When the hummus arrived, I didn’t think twice about putting it into the fridge. However, I should have marked it mine because the very next day I discovered my hubby sitting at the kitchen table chowing down on my Skinnygirl Hummus with the Pita Chips I have specifically bought to complete the experience. With a chock-full chip halfway to his mouth, I asked if he was aware that he was eating my reduced calorie hummus. Initially I got a blank stare. Then he hesitantly asked me, “Do you wanna try?”

Sighing, I figured I would never be able to beat him so I may as well join him. I sat down and taste tested this new hummus. I wasn’t sure what to expect considering Skinnygirl Hummus is made with non-fat Greek yogurt, is reduced calorie, all-natural, gluten-free and kosher. That’s a mouthful in more ways than one! But honestly neither my husband nor I missed the calories. The roasted red hummus had some serious zing to it. And coupled with the pita chips made a terrific afternoon snack.

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All Is Forgiven + Skinnygirl Coupon

The fact that my husband didn’t even notice he was eating something reduced calorie speaks volumes. I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this to the whole family as a wonderful way to appease those munchies or even serve it up at the next football party. Next time, however, I’ll be sure to mark at least one package mine!

And because I love being able to share such goodness, grab this $0.75 Walmart coupon off of Skinnygirl Hummus and try it out for yourself! To learn more about Skinnygirl, visit their website at http://skinnygirlfresh.com/

October 14, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
21 Comments

Pumpkin Patch Wordless Wednesday

Pumpkin Patch | The Jenny Evolution

The family had such a wonderful time this past weekend visiting Stade’s Farm & Market. Normally when we get pumpkins they’re already picked and lined up. Instead, we got to take a hay ride into the actual pumpkin fields and pick our pumpkin right off of the vines. It was quite cool to see the patch and be able to walk among the pumpkins to figure out which ones we wanted to bring home.

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October 14, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
16 Comments

We Still Use Sippy Cups: Sensory Oral Needs

We have something in our house that I don’t readily admit… we still use sippy cups in our home. Those of you with toddlers won’t think twice about having sippy cups, but my boys are 8 and 6 years old — well past the age of needing these.

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My two boys are undoubtedly sensory oral seekers, but my youngest one is on the extreme scale of sensory oral needs. He often needs something in his mouth. This can include crunchy food, his fingers/hands and even his shirtsleeves.

When he became old enough to move to regular cups, I found he calmed down if I gave him a sippy top or straw rather than a regular cup. Straws are great for many kids, but my little guy needs the tough sucking action of a sippy top.

We did move beyond many of the baby cups and use The First Years Take & Toss Spill Proof Cups. Although, I have to say it seems strange to call them “take and toss” considering we’ve had ours for years. It seems wasteful to toss anything plastic. At least recycle it! But these cups keep on going in our house.

As sensory parents, we are often faced with what we should expect from our children with what we think they need. Just because it may seem inappropriate for many kids, I encourage you to pay attention to what your kiddo needs and work from there. I don’t expect my kids to need sippy tops forever, but they sure do need them now.

 

The Sensory Spectrum


October 13, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
3 Comments

Win a $250 Target Gift Card

 

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Welcome to the Hipoglos $250 Target Gift Card Event

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So head below for your chance to win! Giveaway ends on 11/03 at 11:59pmEST and is open to US.

 

 

Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. Contact Elia@mompoweredmedia.com if you have any additional questions or comments.