Thursday, September 20, 2018

Life As A Freelance Writer

This sums up life for me.

I once read that the best writers write what they know. That piece of advice has stuck with me throughout the years. I unexpectedly came into my daycare profession and I was unexpectedly good at it. Soon, I had people asking me for tips and to share my tricks to get kids learning and involved. That got me into the blogging business.

As one can figure, it's tough to make money with a blog. I honestly didn't get into blogging for money or finding future work. I got into it because it was easier to share what I was doing with my daycare, plus, I soon realized it was a great stress reliever for me. I've always loved writing and suddenly I was getting to do it for fun. I was combining two of my passions into "work." I wrote what I knew and that got the ball rolling into a side-career of freelance writing.

I soon got email requests from other blogs and websites that wanted me to contribute to their content. I began accepting more and more writing assignments, at first for free (typically this involved sending them already published pieces on The Kidsperts and giving them permission to use them) and then eventually I received paid writing projects. I (usually) took on whatever projects I could to build up a writing portfolio and gain experience.

These days I'm picky about what projects and assignments I take on. Some of these are time sensitive and I have just hours to write something (or as I say "throw shit together"). Other projects I have several weeks or months to write so I can do proper research. Either way, my laptop is carted around my favorite work spots in my house: the right side of the big red couch in the living room, my dining room table (I've worked through many family dinners), the deck in the backyard that overlooks the backyard, and occasionally I wind up in my office (that's a rarity however).

I rarely seek projects out; I wait for others to contact me and give me a topic to write about. From there, my assignments vary greatly on who has hired me and their expectations. Most projects I'm free to write what I'd like as long as I get the key points in. Some projects are picky and I have to watch how many words are in the article, copyright issues, and the tone of the article(s). 

Most of my weekdays involve a ten hour daycare day, followed by a night of writing. If I didn't love writing and use it as a source of stress relief from my days with kids (however, let me take a minute to acknowledge that some writing projects bring stress as well!), this would not be an ideal second career for me! This blog that you're reading, that so many of you have followed to see our daily lives, serves as a portfolio for my writing and a portfolio of my daycare career, my life as a parent, and most importantly, a recording of our family. 

Because one simple piece of advice stuck with me since eighth grade, I have been able to build a second career as a freelance writer. Having more than one career can be hectic, especially when I have multiple projects that require my undivided attention (multi-tasking is a must in my life). I've learned many valuable lessons since my eyes have been opened to the freelance world. I have had to put on my business pants to go over contracts, because who wants to sign a bad deal? I have had to learn to negotiate pay and project guidelines. These are lessons that I wouldn't have otherwise. I doubt I'll ever be able to make this a full time career choice (unless I was comfortable with a huge pay cut, which, I'm not), but for now, it's just what I need and want.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

50 Activities To Help Kids Learn The 50 States

Our theme for the summer was 50 States. We learned about all 50 states in 7 weeks and 2 days. With each state we learned about was an activity to help the kids remember each state. I was teaching a wide of age range (2-10) so I needed activities to hold everyone's attention, plus make them memorable. Using this book and the facts in the book (along with a little help from my bff Google), I was able to teach the kids some fun, and some obscure, facts about the states. 

Each day we did one or two states and had (mostly) small activities to go along with them. We went over the day's state, plus a quick review of the states we had already done. At the end of the 7 weeks, the result was six year olds who knew their states and capitals, 7, 8, and 10 year olds who got sooo into the states that they created bucket lists of all the cool places they wanted to visit and A LOT of interest in the states. 

My goals for this theme for summer were simple:
  • keep everyone active, attentive, learning, and thinking
  • simple activities that didn't have to take all day (in case there were kids who weren't interested)
  • things that didn't mean spending a lot of money

Here's what I came up with:

Sweet Home Alabama (the song, not the movie): Alabama

"Salmon" fishing - Alaska
Most of America's salmon comes from Alaska.

Hiking "The Grand Canyon"  - Arizona
The Grand Canyon is in northern Arizona.

Diamond digging (with graphite from Crater of Diamonds State Park) - Arkansas
Arkansas has one of the only diamond fields in the world that is open to the public (Crater of Diamonds).

A talent show and costumes - California
These kids were all stars in "Hollywood" on California day.

Crafting lady bugs - Delaware
Delaware's state bug is the ladybug.

Alligator wrestling - Florida
The Florida Everglades are the only place on earth where alligators and crocodiles co-exist.

Coloring peanuts and "picking" them (playing our Find It game) - Georgia

Peanuts are Georgia's official crop. Fun fact: they grow in the ground. You pull them up by leaves and pick them from the bottom of the roots.

Baked potato bar - Idaho
Idaho potatoes are known to be the world's best. The state grows more potatoes than anywhere else in the country.

Chicago style pizza for lunch - Illinios
Chicago style pizza for Chicago; Illinois' largest city and the third largest city in the country.

Cozy Coupe races - Indiana
Car races for the famous Indianapolis 500 that takes place every May in the state's capital city

Corn shucking - Iowa
Iowa is the largest corn producer in the U.S.

Watch The Wizard of Oz - Kansas
Kansas is Dorothy's home. Wampego, KS has a Wizard of Oz Museum!

Horse stick races - Kentucky
Horse stick races in honor of the Kentucky Derby, taking place the first Saturday of May (every year) in Louisville.

Mardi Gras photo booth - Louisiana
Mardi Gras is the famous festival that takes over New Orleans with parties and parades.

Lighthouse building with recyclables (and colorings) - Maine
The coast of Maine has more than 60 lighthouses.

Sing The Star Spangled Banner - Maryland
The Star Spangled Banner was written in Baltimore, after it's writer witnessed Fort McHenry being attacked by the British army during the war.

Tea party & Mayflower boat races - Massachusetts

In honor of the Boston Tea Party (where boxes of tea were thrown into Boston Harbor to fight British taxes) and  the Mayflower Ship (the ship that brought the pilgrims to the new world).

Decorate your own box car while listening to Motown - Michigan
Motown is short for "motor town" for Detroit, also known as the nation's car capital.

Camping at the lake - Minnesota
Minnesota has more than 15,000 lakes! 

Listen to blues music while eating St. Louis BBQ and ice cream cones for dessert while watching Meet Me In St. Louis - Mississippi and Missouri
Mississippi is the birthplace of blue music. It is said that people from St. Louis use more barbecue sauce than any other. Also, ice cream cones were invented in 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair (when the movie takes place).

Bear hunt in the backyard - Montana
The state animal of Montana is the grizzly bear. 

Kool Aid painting - Nebraska
Kool Aid was invented in Hastings, NE in 1927.

Card games - Nevada
Lots of card games are played in Las Vegas.

Read The Road Not Taken - New Hampshire

Robert Frost lived in New Hampshire from 1900 to 1911. You can visit Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH.

Playing diner - New Jersey
NJ has more diners than any other state.

Native American word find and learning how to say "hello" in six Native American languages - New Mexico
NM is known for its Native American history.

Apples for afternoon snack - New York
New York City, the biggest city in the U.S., is referred to as The Big Apple.

Krispy Kreme donuts for breakfast - North Carolina
Krispy Kreme donuts got their start in Winston-Salem, NC.

Planting sun flower seeds - North Dakota
ND grows more sunflowers than any other state.

Hot dogs for lunch - Ohio
America's first hot dog was served in Ohio in 1900.

Cowboys lassoing their horses - Oklahoma
Oklahoma City is home to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

The Oregon Trail card game - Oregon
Many pioneers traveled from Independence, MO to Oregon using the (now historic) Oregon Trail.

Hershey bars - Pennsylvania
Hershey, PA is the chocolate capital of the U.S.

Circus Day - Rhode Island
Newport, RI held the first circus in America in 1774.

Sweet tea and the National Parks Memory game - South Carolina & South Dakota
South Carolina is the birthplace of sweet tea and also home to the first tea plants in America. South Dakota has the famed Mount Rushmore (a National Monument).

Garth Brooks and Elvis - Tennessee

Nashville, TN is the home of country music; while Elvis has Graceland in Memphis, TN.

Space Day - Texas
NASA headquarters is in Houston, TX.

Salt water experiment - Utah
The Great Salt Lake is saltier than any of the Earth's oceans.

Ben and Jerry's ice cream tasting - Vermont
Ben & Jerry's headquarters is in Burlington, VT.

Nerf gun battle - Virginia
Virginia not only has Jamestown, the first village in America, but it also saw many, many battles during the Civil War.

Coffee shop - Washington
The very first Starbucks was in Seattle, WA.

Coal sensory bin - West Virginia
Coal mining is an important part of WV history.

Milk tasting (regular, chocolate, and strawberry) - Wisconsin
 Wisconsin is a top producer of milk (and cheese and butter).

Coke and Mentos geyser experiment - Wyoming
Wyoming is home to Yellowstone National Park, which has more geysers than any other place on Earth!

We all loved this activity so much that next summer we will be doing a Celebrations Around The World theme!