5 Distant Learning tips for Parents

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Here we are heading into a school year with distant learning. 😷  Last Spring I never would've predicted we would still be in this 'model' for school.  

I wanted to direct this post to parents ~ I can't imagine trying to work and teach or monitor my child(ren) at the same time, so my heart goes out to you.  I'm the mom of college aged kids so I don't feel your struggle.  However, raising kids and being an educator for 26 years I feel like I can offer some sound advice for you.

I've created a list of 5 ways you can make at home learning more structured and successful.

At home learning is challenging at best, we understand. However, as you head into this 2020 - 2021 school year understand that it will look very different from the Spring experience you had when we were thrown into this unexpectedly.  Anticipate a much more rigorous, accountable distant learning plan as we are starting the year off in this model.

Here is a poster that you can print out  - it is a great visual created by my friend Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasboard.  

1.) Give them a CONSISTENT place to work ( desk, work space, etc. ) and attend live meetings. Preferably not too far from an adult but also careful to be in a place that isn't too loud.

2.) Hang a poster similar to the one above or one that your classroom teacher sends you so your child can visually see expectations that they need to follow. This would be similar to rules hung in a classroom. It sets the child up to know and follow the expecations from the start.

3. ) Have a WONDERFUL attitude no matter how you might be feeling. I understand this is hard on everyone and frustrating. Your child will pick up on any stress, anger, etc. you have so putting on a smile and encouraging them will take you and them far in this journey. They need to see your great attitude so they can go into this with a similar attitude. Support the teacher the best you can. There's not much we can do about it so let's make lemonade out of lemons together.

4.) Follow a schedule consistently each day - logging in for the live class meetings, taking lunch and recess when the class is etc. But, also be flexible like teachers have to be in the classroom. If you are sensing your child's frustration level is high, give them a 5 minute break in the back yard. SET a TIMER so they know they need to get back on track when it rings.

5.) Communicate with the teacher and share any concerns you have so that you can be on the same page in moving forward to help your child.

These are just a few tips to get your year started off right!  You can do this...your teacher is there to help and support you, so definitely reach out if needed.💖

Digital Stickers for distant learning

Saturday, August 1, 2020
I'm fairly confident that most everyone would agree with me when it comes to the IMPORTANCE of SEL for kids right now.  If you are new here SEL is social emotional learning ( and support ).  Kids need social and emotional support now more than ever.  

School closures, hearing the news reports, hearing coversations, seeing face masks everywhere and possibly not seeing grandma or grandpa for a long while.  This is all so confusing for little minds.  

Just in the last few years public education has shown a greater interest/need for SEL.  My district hired social workers a few years ago to meet with children that were struggling or needing extra support. ( insert emoji  clapping hands here )

Kids are going to need lots of praise both face to face ( via Zoom ) and in response to any work they turn in digitally ( feedback ).  I've always said the most important thing you can do in your classroom is build relationships.  That's a little tricker to do on line but certainly can be done. 

 Letters in the mail, class morning meetings online, videos and more will be a good start for building those important relationships...and a step in the right direction.

One way I plan to bring a little sunshine to my students is with digital stickers.  In the Spring when we were thrown into digital learning without any notice I had printed digital stickers that I taped to skewers.  

I bounced around and danced the stickers around to praise a child in reading groups.  If I didn't have them handy for a session the kids would BEG for them. 

digital stickers for distant learning
These are the ones I used last year and thanks to Creating 4 the classroom - they came in clutch.  You can find hers here:  

I knew that I wanted my digital stickers to be both printable and able to drop into different platforms...so these digital stickers can be placed directly on student work or in comments both on Seesaw and in Google classroom.

digital stickers distance  learning

digital stickers  Google Classroom Seesaw

digital stickers  Google Classroom Seesaw

There are lots of themes included and fun ones with puns your students are sure to love.  You can find them here

Happy teaching,

All About Me Bags

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Teacher friends ~~~  I know most of you have huge concerns regarding school starting in person or online in the next few weeks.
It will feel so strange to not start the year off in person meeting and getting to know our students.  

I know building our classroom community is one of our favorite parts of teaching.  ( insert sad face here ).

So, I'm thinking about all the things I've done in the past and trying to figure out what can still work online even though it may 'feel' different.

One of the things I love to do is an ALL ABOUT ME BAG activity.  I have a product you can look at { here } if you want to see it up close.   Basically, each child is sent home with a brown  lunch bag an a note and  poem explaining how to fill up the bag with things about them.  

Me Bags - back to school icebreaker

back to school activity in person or online

We sit in a circle and share our About Me bags and it's a wonderful way to get to know each other.  We usually spread this out over a couple of days to keep their interest and not fill most of the day with shares.

This can  still be done on line.  You can assign students different days the first week to share their ME bag. They can share their bag in front of their classmates on your digital learning platform...zoom, google meet, etc. It can still be an engaging way to get to know your students.  

All About Me getting to know you activities back to school

I guess I just want to remind you that you can do many of the same things you 've done in person on line, it may take more thought or going about it a different way but may be possible.  Keep thinking outside the box you guys...we got this!

Teaching multiplication: Ideas, Tricks, Chants and More

Friday, July 10, 2020
Teaching kids multiplication can be a 'bear' of a task and overwhelming at times.  I've heard time and time again from parents that they just don't know how to get their child motivated to learn them.

According to Andrew Cross...practicing multiplication through rhymes might be the best way for kids to learn.  He compares it to a strategy that Shurley Method used to teach english in many American schools.  She relied on rhyme, jingles and short songs to help kids retain information.

As a literacy specialist I see this all the time.  When I work with kindergartners and first graders I see great success when I add in a rhyme whether it's with sneaky y or magic e....it just sticks.

Now, this might not be for everyone, I get it.  Differentiation is key in all areas of teaching.  Offering hands on models for kids to manipulate, teaching them tricks to help them remember and recall them faster are helpful.  Offering daily number talks with students has been found to be extremely beneficial as well - giving them engaging activities that involve critical thinking has shown a link to a stronger math presence.

Columbia research suggests creating a clever phrase to help kids remember facts.  To help amplify learning another idea is to incorporate the numbers into a short story ( adding a rhyme makes it 'stick' even more )

Obviously, looking for patterns such as teaching your child when multiplying by 4's... it's as easy as doubling numbers.  Just take the number being multiplied by 4 and double it twice. 

With all that being said, I want to share a product I created that has been beneficial to almost 500 teachers around the world.  The reviews echo the same sentiment:  

These easy to remember, fun to say chants with the visual picture - images along with words/numbers etc. are the simpliest and most effective way to make sure information gets stored as long term memory.  
Well, these mini posters do just that.  There are several options too.  They can be bound and made into a book ( Staples ), print out the smaller versions and put on a ring by set:  1's, 2's, 3's, etc. 
or just print and put in plastic sleeves for them to use and read during math centers.  

I have found success with them bound in a book and we say them during the few extra minutes we have before recess or waiting in line for an assembly etc.

Find it here

multiplication rhymes and chants

Distance learning got you down?!?! 
 Don't worry - I've created these SAME rhymes and chants in powerpoint.  You can have your students scroll through the chants and say them aloud.  Also you can project it for when you go back to school, my students loved chanting them from the smartboard.

distant learning multiplication

Click HERE for it

So...if you are worried about your own child falling behind or not picking up their facts quickly enough...or you need to best meet the needs of your students you definitely want to check these out and see what all the 'hype' is about.

multiplication tricks

teaching multiplication

These are for sure super helpful in helping your children LEARN and MEMORIZE their facts.  If you need multiplication practice for your students I also have these available in my store:

multiplication riddles

multiplication scoot

multiplication flash cards

and more found here

multiplicatoin mystery puzzles pack
Do yourself a favor and check out Mr. Demaio on you tube, he has the BEST multiplication videos that your kids will beg for everyday!!! 
Hope these tips help and if you have some tried and true favorites or links share them below.

Happy teaching!

Early Childhood Education Curriculum Series

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

I spent the early years ( and many years after ) of my teaching career in early childhood.  While I was working on my teaching credential I was teaching preschool in the am and running the after care in the afternoon.  Then straight off to night classes about 45 minutes from my home and job.  It was tiring but packed full of valuable learning experiences.

I fell in love with teaching during this time right after my undergrad degree!  

dramatic play, sequencing, fine motor skills preschool kindergarten

I have learned a lot over the 26 years that I have been an educator and I will continue to  make learning and growing a priority in my life.  

One of the things that I was able to see a direct relationship with in my teaching was working with fine motor skillsIf I was able to build them up in a child I was able to see a direct relation to their improved writing/drawing skills. 

I knew the time I spent preparing fine motor activities for them was going to pay off big time when it came to them holding a pencil, scissors, etc.

That is one of the reasons that I developed my GROW product series on TPT.  My desire as is yours I suspect since you are here reading this is for your students' growth.  We want to celebrate the growth of our students in all areas:  SEL, academic, etc.  In order to do that we need to give them the TOOLS they need to experience that growth so that's how my GROW series evolved.  

Anything that I see as a 'growth' promoter for young learners is included in this series.  I cover fine motor skill actitivites, social activities, pre reading activites and more. 

Below is just a small sample of my grow series that I have started, I have products in my store currently that I am changing covers to and adding to this series.

Pokey pin art - builds fine motor skills and confidence ( not shown but available in my store )
Tracing - builds fine motor skills and confidence - preparing your student for future success in writing, grasping etc.
Dramatic play centers - build social AND emotional skills in young children.  Learning to take turns, delegate and accept 'jobs' within the roles of dramatic play.  Learning to be disappointed when they didn't get a role they wanted right away.  Talking, interacting, imaginative play are all so VITAL in kids  nowadays and lacking in my opinion.
Sequencing pictures - a great pre reading skill as children are learning to navigate stories/events have a beginning, middle and an end.  
Sensory bins ( not shown but availabe in my store )- Perfect for using their pincher grasp to pick up the sight words or cards in the bin amongst rice or paper or cotton balls, etc.

dramatic play, sequencing, fine motor skills preschool kindergarten

This series is a work in progress/growing series, if you are interested in these just look for the GROW symbol on covers in my store or click the GROW series in my product categories to find more.  
Remember these products will be perfect for PRESCHOOL, PREK, TK, KINDERGARTEN, SPED and possibly FIRST GRADE.

You can find them in my store here.

happy teaching xox

Student numbers and decor

Monday, June 15, 2020
Decor, management, room set up...there's always so much to think about during summer.  Teachers typically don't turn our brains off very well and yes these thoughts run through our head.  

I'm headed into my 27 th year of teaching - don't worry I started when I was 10.  ( haha )  I've come to realize for myself at least that I like to have 'accents' more than a real theme.  Don't get me wrong, I've done a bee theme, owl theme, Hollywood theme, chevron theme ( so trendy 10 years ago ), and so on and so on.  

I've tried to be aware of what my students need, yes this is our space and yes it's my second home for sure so it needs to be something I like too but what do my students need?  

When I had bees hanging all over the ceiling I thought it was darling...of course the fire marshal not so much.  But, I had a little friend that only wanted to look at the bees and when someone opened the back door and they swayed a bit - his eyes were glued on them even more.  You can forget the math lesson I was trying to teach.  That's when it hit me.  Some kids don't need all that stimuli, it's just too much for them.

After that incident I started to observe my students more, especially the ones that I knew had ADD.  Time and time again I saw their distractions and it made me sad.  

So, I decided to hang less and accent more.  Rather than having bees or superheros hanging from the ceiling, I had a few main pieces of a theme in my library or on my desk.  I added it to their name tags and desk cubbies.  I found little ways to include a theme that was more based on colors than big repetitive objects.

There are so many ways to include a 'theme' without going over the top with one.  For instance, I have a friend that loves llamas, she has a llama bulletin board in the hallway, llama bunting in her window and a few llama pieces ( job pieces, student numbers etc. ) but nothing overwhelming.  

That's pretty much how I have evolved into a giraffe themed room.  It's really more of a black/white polka dot with turquoise accent room with some giraffes thrown in here and there.  It shows off my love for giraffes without overwhelming my ADD kids.

If you need student numbers that can be a perfect way to carry your theme in a non  intrusive way I have several to choose from in my store. 


student number cubby labels

So - just something to think about....consider a color scheme first that you love.  Then if you want to have a theme you can add in a few accent pieces to incorporate it.  These student/cubby/calendar numbers are perfect to add some accents to match your theme.  

Don't see what you like??? Find me on fb or instagram and DM me with an idea to match your theme and I'd be happy to create it for you!
As always...happy teaching!


Fine Motor Skills

Monday, March 9, 2020

Fine motor skills are defined as the coordination between small muscles, like those of the hands and fingers, with the eyes. Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing, grasping small objects and fastening clothing.   Your child's mastery of fine motor skills will allow them greater independence. 

These skills are so important in your child's development and anytime you can give them added practice will benefit them.  Whether you are reading this as a young mom or a preschool teacher I hope I can answer some questions you may have regarding the importance of this skill.

Why is it so important?  Fine motor skills are essential to have in place to be successful at everyday life skills.  For instance tying your shoes, holding a pencil, cutting, coloring, writing, etc.  These are all academic examples, but also brushing one's teeth, eating (cutting with a knife, using a fork) , buttoning and unbuttoning clothing and playing are all examples of when and how fine motor skills can be used in everyday life.

It's important to carve out time in your toddler's, or young child's life to build these skills up and strengthen them.  Some examples include:
*informal play time ( legos, blocks, dressing dolls,puzzles, etc. )
*coloring, gluing, painting
*touching, clapping, fingerplays
*using zippers, straps

Other ideas:
* teach your child or student how to properly perform the 'pincher grasp'. Examples:  picking up cheerios, turning knobs, switches, dials etc.

* give them opportunities to squeeze something.  That is a different sensation with the hands.  Give them a wet sponge and squeeze it over the sidewalk, also give them a paintbrush and a pail of  water.  They will have a blast painting the sidewalk and it will dry and disappear.

* teach your child finger plays...they are a lost art.  With you tube and videos and songs it seems the old nursery rhymes have gone out the window.  BUT research has shown that rhyming carries a lot of importance and is a precursor to being successful at reading.  So, look up some finger plays and get busy.  The itsy, bitsy spider is a great one to start with and here are a couple others you might like:

fine motor skills for kids

Some other ideas that are very helpful are having your student or child practice cutting or tracing things, I have some things to help you as well:

fine motor skills tracing practice

fine motor skills tracing practice

fine motor skills tracing practice

These packs are perfect for 'little hands' you can find them here:  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Preschool-tracing-and-much-more-1130867

Have fun with your child/student and make these skills fun through play and some structured practice time too.

Happy teaching!