Family Photo Op with Minted

How is it already Christmas time?!?  It really is my favorite time of year, and having a toddler makes the holiday season that much MORE magical!  One of our family traditions since I was a little girl has been sending out Christmas cards to friends and family.  This year I am partnering with Minted to showcase their new Photo Op feature.  

The Photo Op service includes-

• A 30-minute portrait session. Their independent portrait photographers come to you - anywhere you want*, 7 days a week.
• 10 expertly retouched photos. Plus access to view and download all photos from your session in 2-3 business days.
• Complimentary holiday card styling. Their stylists will choose the perfect designs to highlight your photos.

*Only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, including select zip codes for Marin, East Bay, Peninsula, and the South Bay.  In select zip codes in Los Angeles and in the New York Metropolitan Area, including select zip codes for NJ and CT. 

Here is how the Photo Op with Minted works: 

Step 1: You choose your photo preferences and schedule a day for your photography session.  The Photo Op website is user friendly and easy to navigate.  When setting up a session with a local photographer you start by inputting the zip code for where you want to meet and take photos.  You can take them at your house, neighborhood, or anywhere else you want.  After you pick your location you then answer a couple of questions to narrow down what types of photos you are looking for.

I really appreciated this feature because this information was then given to my photographer, so she knew what I wanted and could capture those specific types of photos.  Step 2: Your independent portrait photographer comes to you and takes your family's portraits.  My photographer's name was Wendy and she texted me a couple of days before our photo date.  We discussed specifics on where to meet and any other request I had.  We touched base the morning of the photo session to let each other know we were on the way.  

I decided to meet Wendy at a local park.  We spent 30 minutes taking photos.  She was sweet, kind, and quick at capturing those fleeting moments with a toddler and dog.  ;)  Once we were done with the photo session, she uploaded the photos to the Minted site and the Minted team edited and styled Christmas cards using my photos.

Check out some photos Wendy captured of my little family...

Step 3: Receive a link to download your photos and view your styled holiday cards in 2-3 days.  Once I received my photos I had the HARDEST time narrowing down my favorite photo (I still haven't decided).  Minted gives you four different holiday card options using your photos.  You don't have to use any that they made for you, but it is a really handy feature if you are in a rush or if you aren't gifted in designing cards.

Step 4: Finish customizing your favorite card design and check out.  Once you are done designing your cards, you check out and can spread Christmas cheer to your family and friends!

I would HIGHLY recommend using Photo Op with Minted for your Christmas card photos! It was simple, cheap, and I scheduled my photo session 2 days ahead of time!  Go ahead and check it out!


Learning Through Play

Does anyone else wish we were allowed to play more in you classroom?  I'm not only talking about Kindergarten... bigger kids love playing too!  I am always looking for opportunities in my classroom to create moments that promote play, conversation, teamwork, and creativity.

Lakeshore and I have partnered together to review some of their learning resources that are perfect for preschool and primary students. Please note that I am a blog ambassador for Lakeshore Learning and I am compensated for my blog post, but all ideas are mine. :)

A simple way to incorporate play into your classroom is using it as a reward! When I revealed this Play and Explore Rocket to the students they couldn't contain themselves!  

If you are allowed time to play in your classroom then get ready, because your students will LOVE this rocket.  If you aren't allowed play time then you can set this in an area in your room and use it as an incentive for excellent behavior!  If you catch students behaving well then you can give them 5 minutes to play once they are done with their work.  

I loved hearing them discuss and plan how they were going to play and what they wanted to do with the astronauts.  Playtime is a great opportunity for language development if you have an English Language Learner population in your class!

One of my favorite Lakeshore resources are the Sweet Treats! Letter Molds.  These letter molds are made for baking, but I brought them into the classroom for the students to make play dough letter shapes.  We made sight words using the letters, put the letters in order, and also spelled our names.   

These molds can be put in the freezer or oven, so the options really are endless on how you can use these.  This would be great to bake A-Z cookies for the class once you learn all of the letters of the alphabet!

I also like the idea of placing pom poms and tweezers at the table for the students to pick up pom poms and place them in the letter mold to make letters.  

Do you have a magnetic station in your class?  I would highly recommend the Magnetic Creation Station from Lakeshore.  This resource is super durable and contains a really strong magnetic base for the students to build onward and upward.  

Again, one of my favorite components of watching them explore was listening to the collaboration, discussion, and teamwork when trying to build a tall tower.  They were using critical thinking and trial and error to make their design.

One thing I like to encourage is for them to actually have a plan on what they are going build and then try to achieve it.  The magnetic set comes with a design book showing different construction ideas, and the students appreciated having a visual of what their design could possibly look like.

If you are interested in any of these activities, I have a 20% off coupon waiting for you, follow this LINK to get the coupon!