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Mrs. P writing contest for classrooms,

Writing Contest for Elementary Students

What a small world! I went to KidLitCon in 2012 and I met exactly one teacher there. There were tons of librarians and authors, but just one mom blogger (me) and one teacher (I think).

She was really nice and showed me how to set up a Wiki right on her computer during lunch one day. She taught 4 subjects in the equivalent of a 1 room school house in rural Iowa. I was so impressed with how she connected her kids with author visits via Skype, all for free! Her name? Karla Duff … and then I find out through Mrs. P’s Be-a-Famous Writer Contest that she is a judge of Mr.s P’s Writing Contest for Elementary Students!

Small world, right?!

Mrs. P writing contest for classrooms, Be-a-Famous Writer Contest Puts “Magic” in Classrooms for Kids

Mrs P invites classrooms to write a story on the topic of “Magic”, no less than 250 words and not to exceed 1,000 words. It may be fiction or non-fiction. Any classroom from Kindergarten through 4th grade may enter. Just one story per classroom!

It can be a collaborative story, or a class vote on which child’s story to enter.

Entry is easy and free.

The teacher just needs to email  the story. The contest opens September 1st for entries. Prizes too!

Read more…

Dinosaur T Rex: Not the Fiercest!

This fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex (T. Rex) is the mascot of Boston’s Museum of Science. He (or she) can be seen as you enter the museum, and enticed my son down two stories to the dinosaur exhibit. I mean, who can resist a life-size T. Rex?

T. Rex, Tyranosaurus Rex, Museum of Science Boston, Gigantosaurus versus Tyranosaurus Rex, Gigantosaurus vs T Rex

I told my son that scientists have no idea what the skin color of the T. Rex actually was. There are no records of it so it’s their best guess. They most likely had some kind of coloring to blend in to help them hunt, but your guess is as good as mine as to pattern and color! Read more…

foreign language sites for kids

Sites to Teach Kids Foreign Languages

I use these sites to reinforce Foreign Language curriculum that we either do at home using a tutor or to help my child in middle school who is studying a foreign language. Hope these foreign language for kids online sites help!

Follow PragmaticMom’s board Teaching Kids Chinese on Pinterest.

Follow PragmaticMom’s board Teaching Kids Spanish on Pinterest.

butterfly books for kids, multicultural butterfly books for kids, monarch butterfly books for kids

A Multicultural Round Up of Butterfly Books for Kids

Butterflies are all colors of the rainbow and exist all over the world, so why not have a multicultural round-up of children’s books as well? We visited the Butterfly Garden exhibit at the Museum of Science, Boston last week, and here is a list of books to round out the visit.

What is your favorite butterfly book for kids? Please share and I’ll add to the list. I especially need non-fiction books!


Butterfly Books for Kids to Enjoy

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A beloved classic, the very hungry caterpillar eats an amazing array of different things before turning into a butterfly. [picture book, ages 1 and up]

The Butterfly Alphabet Book (Jerry Pallotta’s Alphabet Books) by Jerry Pallotta

Pallotta’s alphabet books are like mini encyclopedia’s with a plethora of interesting facts on butterflies from A to Z, starting with the Apollo butterfly and ending with the Zephyr Metalmark. [picture book, age 4 and up]

Read more…

blue morpho butterfly, butterfly garden, MOS, Museum of Science Boston,

Butterfly Garden

My son and I visited the Butterfly Garden exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston. He missed his third grade school field trip because he had Strep Throat the last week of school so I promised him a make up trip as part of his Camp Mom week. I used to take his older sisters to the Museum of Science frequently when they were younger but I realize now that we haven’t visited here in a few years. Too bad. It’s one of the best museums for kids in Boston and because it’s huge, it never feels overwhelmingly crowded the way The Boston Children’s Museum can.

This wasn’t my son’s favorite stop — he much preferred The Sea Monster 3D movie and the dinosaur exhibit — but I always find butterfly gardens to be magical.

The Butterfly Garden tickets are extra … would you buy tickets to visit a Butterfly Exhibit in addition to the museum entrance fee?

I’ve tried to identify the butterflies we saw but it wasn’t easy. Please help me out if you see an error or know which butterfly it is. I was feeling very Calpurnia Tate trying to ID them. Speaking of Calpurnia Tate, I’ll be posting on our Top 10 Butterfly Books for Kids tomorrow. As with most of my book lists, it’s picture book fiction or biography — no non fiction though I’d love your suggestions for those!

butterfly garden, MOS, Museum of Science Boston,

 Great Yellow Mormon, Papilio lowii

The Great Mormon (Papilio memnon) is a large butterfly that belongs to the swallowtail family and is found in southern Asia.  Read more…

Water Supply System for Kids: A Science Unit for Home

I never really gave storm drains much thought. Occasionally, I’d notice a sign that said drain empties directly to ocean but I didn’t put the garbage piece together with the storm drain pollution piece.

storm drain sign

As for my water supply at home, I’ve only wondered what the lead content was. I had no idea where the water came from. I just take this kind of stuff for granted.

Things changed when the MWRA came to visit our elementary school. The first question is what does MWRA stand for? I would have struggled with that: Metropolitan Water Resource Authority. They are the folks who worry about our water supply including drinking water, waste water and storm drains.

In this unit on Our Water Supply, I cover:

  • The history of the reservoir where I live
  • Waste Water
  • How to measure the pH of water
  • Free Printable eBook Dwayne the Storm Drain
  • Water Supply App for Kids
  • A list of relevant books for kids

Do you know where your water comes from? Read on to learn more! Read more…

natural consequences for discipline

Parenting: Natural Consequences for Kids

My thanks to Faigie Kobre for returning with a much anticipated post on natural consequences for kids!


A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post for PragmaticMom on self esteem for children. I discussed four points that are crucial to helping your children develop good self esteem. One of the four points was consistent discipline. I also wrote under the heading of consistent discipline that punishment should be through natural consequences and since there was in interest in that topic, Mia asked me to write a follow up post addressing natural consequences.

Are natural consequences enough in disciplining children?

There are a lot of words bandied about when it comes to discipline. There is authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting, natural consequences and logical consequences (among others). Natural consequences are indeed a wonderful way of parenting but, is natural consequences enough of a method in disciplining your children?

The short answer is probably not. Read more…

vocabulary building chapter book, Tilda Pinkerton's Magical Hats

Chapter Book to Build Vocabulary GIVEAWAY

There is something magical about this chapter book. Even though the characters are fairly static, I still liked it and doesn’t happen very often. Usually when I get a book about a concept — in this case, karma and change — the story doesn’t stand on its own, it’s so weighted down by The Big Message.

In case, the message of change via a magical hat (that could also be karma) is encased with other delightful elements:

  • Magical hats that help each character find their inner happiness.
  • Illustrations that you are encouraged to color in (assuming its your book and not from the library)!
  • A story that magically builds vocabulary!
  • Crazy made up vocabulary words that do not exist in the Dictionary are also used. (Look for those. They’re fun!).
  • An extensive glossary in the back of the chapter book to recap all that great vocabulary learning!

Tilda Pinkerton’s Magical Hats by Angela Shelton

vocabulary building chapter book, Tilda Pinkerton's Magical HatsRead more…

K'NEX Extreme Sports motorcycle

Staying Off Screens and K’NEX GIVEAWAY

My 8-year-old son is off this week while his sisters are in day camp. One is playing soccer with some members of the FC Barcelona coaching staff, the other is learning hot glass blowing. This is a good week for all my kids as they fulfil their dreams but not so much for me and my husband. We are crisscrossing across Boston suburbs to drive them to their camps battling traffic, limited parking and narrow streets. Thank goodness for car pools!

I did not do any preparation for my son’s week off like I did last summer. My only strategy to keep him off screens is to play with K’NEX sets. I am an blog ambassador for them and my son would agree that the most awesome box just arrived.

Angry Birds Space: Red Planet “Hogs on Mars” Building Set

My son loves Angry Birds and I have an iTunes bill to prove it! iGame Mom had great ideas on keeping boys off screens by doing video game extensions … like book extensions, it takes boys off screens to act out their favorite games. Genius!

K'NEX Angry Birds, K'NEX gaming toys, Read more…