Monday, April 20, 2020

Educational TV Shows You'll WANT Your Kids to Binge

Oh, screen time. It can be a parent's (and a teacher's) best friend or mortal enemy.

The Battle of the Binge is something I have to fight in my house. We have always tried to limit screen time, but trust me when I say that my seven year old would JUMP at the chance to watch My Little Pony for 12 hours without blinking.

Sometimes, as a working mama, especially now working from home, I have to give a little. Some compromises have to be made. Screen time has increased somewhat, but I have found some GREAT educational programming that, well, I actually don't mind if she binges a little bit! Check out my list of six great educational shows for students!

1. Ask the Storybots

Oh my word, you guys. These little storybot characters are funny and fun and FILLED with super cool information about so many topics! From "how do airplanes fly" to "how do people catch a cold" to "where does chocolate come from," the storybots provide scientific explanations in easy to understand terms. Celebrity guests and amazing musical numbers make this show one for the whole family! Available on Netflix.

2. The "Who Was?" Show

Based on the best-selling book series, The Who Was? Show highlights different historical figures and presents their stories in fun, age-appropriate ways to a young audience. Kids will learn about American icons like Benjamin Franklin and Amelia Earhart. They will also learn about international figures including Gandhi and Frida Kahlo. This show does a great job of bringing history to life and making the past relatable to today's kids. Streaming now on Netflix.

3. Cyberchase

Don't let the fact that this show came out almost two decades ago dissuade you; this show rocks! It is a fun adventure show set in Cyber Space and features three kiddos and their strange birdy sidekick. They apply math skills to "real-world" situations to defeat the show's antagonist, The Hacker. The end of every episode features math problems and puzzles being solved by real live kids! Yes, they are wearing the finest fashions the early 2000s had to offer, but that just adds to the charm! This show is perfect for ages 7-10 and airs on PBS Kids and 

If your kiddos aren't quite old enough to enjoy running around in Cyber Space, I guarantee you,
they'll LOVE Peg + Cat, also from PBS Kids. An adorable little girl, Peg, and her pet cat teach your kids early math skills, such as shapes, patterns, and counting. And don't just take my word for it. This simple cartoon is the winner of SEVEN Emmy awards! Be sure to also check out the games section available on for your kids to practice the skills they learned on the show!

5. Leap Frog

And while we are talking about our youngest learners, let's switch gears into READING! Netflix has several episodes from Leap Frog that dive deep into letters, sounds, and phonics. Letter Factory, Phonics Farm, and Sing-a-long Read-a-long are fun, musical shows that teach letter identification, letter sounds, and phonics skills like blending to read CVC words. These shows are perfect for preschool and kindergarten. They also make great added practice for your firsties who need a refresher.

6. Word Girl

For your readers, how about a show that expands their vocabulary? I'm not gonna lie- Word Girl is one of my all-time favorites. This show is able to introduce and reinforce complex vocabulary words without making it feel like a "language lesson." It's perfect to help bridge the gap between conversational and academic vocabulary that will often show up on standardized tests, thereby exposing kiddos to unfamiliar words in a fun way. And I promise, the first time you hear your young child or student tell you they are "flattered" when you compliment their latest assignment will make your day! And just like the other PBS Kids shows, this show comes complete with its own academic games to help your kids and students practice their new vocabulary skills and teaches skills like making inferences. 10/10 would DEFINITELY recommend.

So there you have it! My list of binge-worthy shows that will not only keep your kiddos entertained, but also academically engaged. Assign an episode or two for your students via distance learning or share the list with your students' parents so they have an educational alternative to traditional screen time. Did I leave any shows out? Let me know your favorites in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

What to do with PEEPS marshmallows (besides eat them)

Welcome to Week 4 of Quaranteaching! We are getting ready to celebrate Easter on Sunday. We should have been making plans to leave our town right after Sunday's service to head to my dad and step-mom's house for an Easter meal. But Covid-19 had other plans, so we are staying home. But that didn't stop them from sending my daughter an Easter basket filled with goodies- including PEEPS.

I need to know: are you team PEEP or not? Apparently, these sweet treats are very divisive; you love them or you hate them. Parker loves them, but they are super sugary, so we don't let her eat many. What to do with the left overs?

Well, since we are learning at home, I decided to turn them into a science experiment. I'd heard of "marshmallow dough" before, but I'd never tried making it. However, what are peeps other than marshmallows coated in sugar?

We began our experiment by examining the peeps "before." What did they feel like? Taste like? We squished those little chicks and got sticky marshmallow all over our hands. We tasted them (basically straight up sugar). What did we think would happen when we heated them up to start making our dough? We documented everything and wrote out our hypothesis on our investigation report.  Then it was time to experiment.

We heated the marshmallows, added the other ingredients, and combined everything to make a dough that was a consistency somewhere between slime and play dough. We examined the dough again to check out the changes. How did it feel now? How did it TASTE now? We wrote down our new findings and compared the two states of the peeps.

You can download the forms we used from my Teachers Pay Teachers store here!

My daughter loved stretching out the dough and putting it inside the plastic eggs to shape. If it got a little sticky, we just dusted it with a little extra cornstarch. Helpful hint: your hands need to be COMPLETELY DRY to play with this dough. After she was done playing with it, I wasn't sure how well it would keep. But like the good scientists we now are, we experimented! We put it in a zipper-seal bag in the fridge. The next day, it was very hard, but the more we worked with it and the warmer it got, the more malleable it became. For our next batch, I think we'll leave the bag on the counter. Since it's made from marshmallows, it won't last for very long. But with it being Easter season, especially this close to the end of the season, they are easy to find to make more (especially after Sunday when they go on sale)!

 Save the image below for the recipe!

We had the best time experimenting and playing with our food! It's been so much fun coming up with academic, engaging activities with things we already have at home. And I'm definitely saving this idea to do in the classroom next year! Until then, I'll soak up every extra moment at home.

Stay safe!

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