Category Archives: learning

Interesting 5-Minute Reads

Let’s get a little random today!

I haven’t read any books worth talking about lately, but I have read some awesome essays on a variety of topics. Regardless of whether or not I agree with the opinion or topic, I love it when an author propels me to contemplate the issue at hand.

Here are 4 articles I found interesting this week.

Having It All Kinda Sucks
I have wasted far too much time questioning my life choices related to working and motherhood. It’s ridiculous and I know I’m not alone.

The essay Having It All Kinda Sucks by Amy Westervelt sums the issue up much more eloquently than I ever could. That Amy, she’s onto something.


20 Quotes from Children’s Books Every Adult Should Know

Yes! This. All of this. If you need a little inspiration this morning, check out this article.

shelsilversteinPhoto credit: Meg Davidson Photography

Where Children Sleep by James Mollison

This is not an essay, but a photographer’s book showing pictures of children’s bedrooms around the world. The stark contrast in living conditions around the world is unsettling.

The child in this pictures lives in Nepal.

Nepal_Indira_5727Photo credit: James Mollison

You Would Die If You Didn’t Sigh

What the what? This insight into how our lungs work was fascinating to me. Sighing is important, people! That’s why I do it. It’s definitely not because I’m exasperated by my children’s behavior. No, never.

I couldn’t think of a lung graphic, so you get a silly picture of my kid instead.

I hope these quick reads have given you food for thought to start your day. Happy Friday, folks!

Friday Funny

I recently started reading How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell with my children.

Do you remember that book?

One boy takes a bet to eat 15 worms in 15 days and if he does his friends will give him $50.

A movie was made in 2006 based on the book. From what I can tell from this trailer, the premise is a little different, but something my kids would probably eat right up.

Pun definitely intended.

My kids are loving this book. It has the kid factor, the gross factor and the “would I really do it” factor going on.

On the day we started reading this book, I took the kids to dinner at Panera Bread. It had been ages since I had been there, so I decided to order something different, the Soba Noodle Salad.

As luck would have it, the booth farthest away from every other restaurant patron also happened to be a bit dim. It added to the illusion when I brought my dinner over to the table.

My children’s eyes opened about as wide as this bowl when they saw my salad. Remember, my salad didn’t look this perfect, nor was it lit professionally and photoshopped.


image courtesy Panera Bread

Them: “What is that?” 

Me: “What does it look like?”

Them: “Worm salad.”

Me: “Well, that’s what it is. Do you want a taste?”

Them: “NO!”

As I took that first bite, very slowly and with dramatic pause, their mouths hung open wide and their eyes practically bugged out of their head. They voiced a collective “EWWW” when I gulped my first bite down with supreme exaggeration.

I have to admit, it does make me happy to mess with them a little! I laughed so hard! They still want to believe and I love that about them. I’m going to miss when they aren’t so easily open to suggestion. Now, if only I hadn’t psyched myself out… the noodles’ texture was a little suspect.


Learning Fractions the Banana Bread Way

Last week bananas were piling up on my kitchen counter. It was quickly becoming a DEFCON “EWWW” situation.

I needed to bring resolution to the predicament ASAP because I really, really don’t like to waste produce.

Enter my favorite banana bread recipe which uses 4 bananas. Not a problem! I had 6 bananas. I was going to leave the other two bananas sitting there all lonely and forlorn on the counter when I realized I didn’t have to waste them. I could make a batch and a half of banana bread because I’m good with fractions.

I went to public school, folks.


I know what you are thinking. “Annisa, this is starting off as a pretty lame story. Why are you even writing about this? This isn’t a big deal.”

To which I say, “if you only knew what I DON’T write about.”

It is a big deal (to me) because one of my kids is learning fractions. Also known by my third grader as the END OF THE WORLD.

I didn’t know math could be the root of so much melodrama.

I learned the hard way that my child is learning fractions before basic division. In other words, explaining fractions using the dirty word “division” pushes the child’s “FREAK OUT RIGHT NOW” button.

It does beg the chicken and the egg question. Which should you learn first?

If I was a really clever mom, I would have baked the banana bread WITH my child and talked about how I was increasing the recipe using fractions.

I’m not that clever and I had already started baking when I realized this would be a really good “Project Based Learning” lesson.

I came up with a way to save the lesson though. I divided (there’s that dirty word again) the batter into small ramekins instead of putting it all into a loaf pan. See where I’m going with this?

During snack time that day, we had a fantastic, hands-on discussion about fractions.

“If you eat 1 banana bread that equals 1/6 of the total.”

“If we eat 3 banana bread ramekins, that equals 3/6. 3/6 is also known as 1/2.”

“If we have 6 whole banana ramekins, that can be written as 6/1 or 6.”

And so on and so forth. I daresay there was learning occurring without the children even realizing what was happening. You know if I would have slapped another worksheet in front of the kid all holy hell would break loose.

And that would just be my reaction.

Because we did have a legitimately awesome discussion about fractions during snack time, I decided that was enough extra math for the day.

Mommy was exhausted.

I really think “Learning Fractions the Banana Bread Way” is going to catch on in academia. Aren’t you happy to have gotten in on the ground floor of this trend?

Free Learning Resources:
My Favorite Banana Bread Recipe
Khan’s Academy: Explaining Whole Numbers as Fractions

How to Ask Your Kids About Their School Day

Hey, hey!

Is your household still basking in the glow of summer? Or are you like us and summer is a distant memory? We are in the middle of week 2 of school. How long until Winter Break???

These days, it’s a good morning if mommy only yells a few times “Hurry Up! The bus will be here soon.” Sad, but true. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

I saw this really cool graphic on CNN recently that showed a sampling of when school starts throughout the United States. It seems more and more schools are moving to August start dates. Interesting, right?

Here’s the full CNN article. Image below from the rockin’ graphics department at CNN.

Moving on…

I genuinely do want to know what happens at school. There’s this whole chunk of my children’s day when they aren’t with me and it’s kind of weird to not know what’s going on. My children usually tell me they forgot what happened at school. My personal favorite is when they say “nothing happened.” Awesome and more awesome.

This means I have to be more subtle about how I go about extracting information. That’s why I LOVED this blog post by Simple Simon and Company about clever ways of asking your child how their day went or what happened at school.

When I use these techniques, I get much better responses. I just have to be prepared for their answers! Yesterday I heard, “I was talking during nap time, mom!” DOH!

Simple Simon and Company did a follow-up post about how to ask your TEENS how their day went too. I should probably study that list of questions so that I’ll be prepared in 5 years when I have a teenager. *don’t want to think about it*

In other Back-to-School news, have you read this poem? I’m sure if you are in the education community you’ve seen it a million times, but it cracked me up.

“Twas the Night Before School Started”

Twas the night before school started
when all through the town
the parents were cheering
it was a riotous sound.

By eight the kids were washed
and tucked into bed
when memories of homework
filled them with dread.

New pencils, new folders, new notebooks too,
new teachers, new friends, the anxiety grew.
The parents just giggled when they heard of this fright
and shouted upstairs – GO TO BED-IT’S A SCHOOL NIGHT!
-author unknown

Last, but not least, we started the first day of school off right with our “First Day of School Giant Cookie” Tradition.

If you want 5 easy ways to celebrate the first day of school, here are some ideas.



I am so, so, so happy that my kids have been blessed with amazing teachers thus far in their education. What teachers do every single day to engage, inspire and educate a diverse group of students…well, it just boggles my mind. God bless them, every one.

Notebook Paper Lunchbox Notes – Free Printable

We are in back-to-school countdown mode around these parts!

I always associate the start of school with fall, but in Georgia it is still 95 degrees. Definitely not fall-like weather. Maybe in a couple of months…

But whether I think it feels like the start of school or not, it’s still starting! Time to get with the program.

Last year I started packing my daughter’s lunch with reusable lunchbox notes. I made these day-of-the-week notes and will keep using them this year. They’ve held up great! (There’s a free printable if you click on the link to that post.)

This is my son’s first time in all-day school, so he gets to take his lunch to school now too. He’s really excited to be one of the “big” kids now.

All this means I needed to add more reusable lunchbox notes to my stash.

I also wanted an excuse to use my laminating machine. I love that thing.

I thought mini sheets of notebook paper would be in keeping with this whole back-to-school thing. As if I needed another reminder that I have to get up at oh-dark-hundred in less than a week.

Why does the bus have to come so darn early?

I like options, so I made a horizontal and a vertical version.

As I was happily laminating these sheets I thought, “why didn’t I just laminate an actual sheet of notebook paper.” Huh.

Then I remembered that I didn’t have any wide-rule notebook paper. (All of our school supplies are ordered online and sent directly to the school.)

Oh, and most important, these mini-versions are cute and I had fun making them!

I use a dry erase marker on these laminated notecards. The best way to erase the marker is with a Magic Eraser. Trust me on this. Otherwise, they are tricky to get clean.

The only thing I have left to do now is remind my kids to not leave any surprises in their lunchbox. Mama stays so much happier if she doesn’t find a half-eaten carton of yogurt spilled all over the inside of a lunchbox. Or a half-full juice box that has slowly leaked out and soaked everything inside the backpack. I know all you moms out there can relate to that!

If you want to print out these notecards to use for your own personal use, here’s the link to the PDF. Each notecard is 4×6 inches. If you have a problem opening the PDF, send me a note in the comments. Thanks!

Notebook Paper Notecards Free Printable

P.S. I’m linking up with TidyMom – definitely check out her awesome site!

Kindergarten Sight Word Flash Cards – Free Printable

I’m a mean mom.

I make my kids do reading, writing and arithmetic during their summer break.

My son just finished up Pre-K and earlier this year I noticed he was starting to put sounds together and showing interest in learning how to read.

So, we dipped our foot in that water and lo and behold, the little stinker knew more than he was letting on!

He’s started reading the Bob Books, but I asked his Pre-K teacher about what sight words he would need to know or would learn next year in kindergarten.

For some reason, I imagined she would give me a handy deck of flash cards to use to facilitate the process of learning these sight words. Ha!

Clearly, I was imagining I was on another planet where teachers aren’t over-worked and under-paid.

Instead, she gave me two sheets of paper. One appropriately titled “Kindergarten Sight Words” and one titled “Dolch Pre-Primer Sight Vocabulary.”

I think I might have still been on this alternate planet when I decided instead of going out and buying a deck of flash cards, I’d make my own.

In my defense, I really love using the laminating machine. It’s true. LOVE IT.

Also, I wanted to make sure we were working on the same words our school district would be using.

The two lists had some overlap and it was interesting to see what the similarities and differences were. I expected “and,” “a,” and “go.” Who knew “pretty” would be on the kindergarten sight word list too? Not me.

I definitely could have purchased a $3 set of cards, but as it turns out, my kids and I had a really pleasant afternoon making these cards.

I had designed the cards earlier in Adobe InDesign, so the fun part was left for them to help with!

They (and a stuffed turtle) helped me put them through the laminating machine.

I cut the cards out with a craft knife and the kids helped with the hole-punching.

My son waited ever so patiently to put the cards on the ring himself and we sounded out each word during this process.

I have no idea how long I’ve had these binder-type rings in my office supply stash. Since college? I knew they’d come in handy one day. #hoardingforthewin


If you’d like to download and use these flash cards too, I’d be so happy to share! They should print just fine on regular 8.5×11 paper. I’m going to give you a choice of a PDF version or a JPG. You don’t even have to laminate them. You could always print them out on card stock too.

Happy learning!


JPG – Page 1
JPG – Page 2
JPG – Page 3
JPG – Page 4
JPG – Page 5
JPG – Page 6
JPG – Page 7
JPG – Page 8
JPG – Page 9