Fun Fridays ~ Wait for it Wednesday Series

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fun Fridays ~ ~ ~ Do you have them?  Have your heard of them?  Well....we've done them for years ( I'm talking 15+ ) at our school.  For some reason 2nd grade isn't a fan and doesn't do them but most  grade levels do.  Basically the idea is this:  Students that are on task and finish assignments in class, turn in homework and behave appropriately all week = earn Fun Friday.  The kids that don't do these things go to :  Study Hall.  The teachers LOVE study hall...the kids NOT so Much.  Although we do get kids each week that choose Study Hall to read quietly or help that teacher.  Every teacher is a bit different in what is acceptable. But it's mostly consistent if that makes sense. For instance, if student A forgets their homework on Tuesday I give them until Friday at noon to turn it in before I take Fun Friday away.  Also if Student B misbehaves but turns it around by the end of the day during the week I will not count it against them.  Although a referral at recess is automatic Study Hall.
So what do we do and how does it work?  Well each week the teachers at my grade level rotate through a Fun Friday 'clubs' schedule.  2 of us choose fun activities { chrome books, outside games, free play, pin art, heads up 7 up, directed draw, movie, etc. }, the other teacher is Study Hall.  That is the quiet room where the study hall teacher gets to grade, clean her room, etc.  Kids get the opportunity to catch up on work , read quietly or when appropriate write in their journals about their behavior reflections.  One of the more popular choices for Fun Fridays is always pin art.  Have you tried it?!?  Kids LOVE it!   What is it you ask?  Well it takes a little time to prep but not much.  You would run off a paper like you see later in this post and tape it to a piece just a tad bigger of construction paper.  So there are 2 layers of paper with the pin art taped on top. They lay on the ground with a pin - obviously rules apply here so they aren't stabbing each other and they poke the marks on the paper.   HINT: It takes a while and they are quiet while doing it... When they are finished ~ ~ they take off the first poking paper and they have a beautiful pin art picture that looks extra special hung on a window with the light shining through it.  If you want to give it a try I have 2 pin art packs you can check out: { click the pictures to visit the packs }

This has to be done on carpet and each child receives a thumb tack as they are easy for little hands to hold.  The poke each dot and will have a neat pictures when they are through.  They usually like to create their name out of pin art too which is always fun.

I have an alphabet one in the works too that should be ready sometime this weekend. 

Do you have anything at your grade level that's like Fun Friday?  I think 5th grade at my school does something like this but once a month.


Wait for it Wednesday ~ Spirit Days

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spirit Days at school ~ ~ ~ you either love them or hate them.  I know lots of teacher don't want to be bothered by them but I embrace them like I'm reliving my youth...kinda scary but oh so true!  I'm obviously in the camp that LOVES spirit days.  I even have a box in my garage that my hubby so lovingly created just.for.spirit.days!!!  I've collected wigs, jewelry for every decade imaginable, clothing ( thrift shops finest ), costumes, hair ribbons and more.  When my daughter was a little girl and started out growing her hair bows I saved them for me.  What!?!?!  I knew I'd use them for Spirit Days - pink for Pink Week for breast cancer awareness, yellow for childhood cancer awareness and the others for spirit or dress up days.  They come in handy you know.

So a few years ago due to my love of these spirit days I created a pack to go with them.  I figured why not get something academic out of these days right?!?

As you can see....

This fun pack was made with Spirit Days in mind.  I know my students are excited on spirit see me dressed up and then Student Council comes around and tallies how many kids in each class is dressed up for an award so - needless to say the kids are a bit fired up.  Why not make great use of this as a teacher I ask?!?!  I have them write on these days because they already have the motivation and their writing always turns out extra special on these days.
As I updated this pack, I've included narrative and opinion options for writing.  Your students can compare the spirit day they are celebrating to one they have had in the past - which did they like better and why?  They can write a narrative on how they picked out their outfit or what happened on that spirit day ~ ~ ~ lots of options.

This is definitely something that will come in handy during your school year.  I tried to include primary lines and lines for upper elementary too.  This fun pack is on sale ~ for the rest of this week so plan ahead for next year and grab it while you can ~ 36 pages for just 2 bucks!

I'm going to be taking over Student Council next year...what kinds of Spirit Days do you have at your school?


Summer Slide Prevention

Sunday, May 8, 2016
I often have parents ask me how they can keep their child's knowledge strong over the summer without burning them out.  Especially those that struggle a bit.  Well I have compiled a list to help you out to prevent the dreaded summer slide...

One of the most important things I tell parents is :  READ to them and have them READ to you!  { Ideally 15 - 20 minutes a day }  Even your youngest learner can look at books and have quiet time while looking at pictures of books and making a story up if they aren't fluent yet.  I would have my kids 'read' to their stuffed animals for quiet time sometimes.  As a mother when my children were young the first thing we did on the very first day of summer vacation was a visit to the library.  There we signed up for the summer reading program.  My kids looked forward to it and each week we would return and check out new books and visit the summer reading area to pick up our prize/incentive.  Sometimes it was a bookmark, sticker, free dinner or small toy.  Not only is it crucial for them to be reading but for you to read to them - I usually did this at night and it was a read aloud.  I would use funny voices for the different characters and ask my kids to make predictions based on the story so far or pictures.  They always looked forward to this.

Play games ~ ~ ~ this sounds simple enough right!?!?  Playing 'learning' games with your kids that don't seem like learning games is a brilliant move as a parent.  For instance:  Apples to Apples, Count your Chickens, Headbandz, Bananagrams and so much more.  These games are fun and your child won't really feel like they are spelling or counting or thinking critically ~ literally a win win here.

Another idea is ~ this may sound surprising but: Give them screen time.  Yep, I said it!  We are living in a digital world whether we like it or not and your kids are digital natives....we are digital immigrants.  So, let them have screen time BUT ~ control it...  Give them a schedule in the summer:
something like:
park visit/picnic lunch
home for rest
Ipad time ~ learning apps
outside play time/water play or backyard game
reading time
indoor play: legos, puzzles, etc.

There are a TON of APPS{ free and paid versions }available for educators and parents to use that make learning FUN and it doesn't seem like a chore to the kids.  Some fun ones are: Matific, Magic School Bus, Fish School HD, Stack the States, Winky Think Logic Puzzles, Ship Antics, Dexteria Dots, The Sight Word Adventure, Balloony Word, School Zone and much more.

I liked to build indoor forts with my kids with blankets and pillows and taking the couch apart of course.  We would set it up together and then go in it.  I would pop popcorn or have apple slices and sometimes we would play school with white boards.  They would have fun answering simple math problems on their white boards and guess what?!!?  IT NEVER seemed like school WORK to them!

OR give your youngest ones apples slices and have them count them, always be in dialogue with your child.  Pointing out the colors of the stop sign, buildings , the words on signs, etc.

EXTRA TIPS:  If you can, encourage your child to pick out both fiction and non fiction books at the library.  You can have little book talks with them about the books.  I kept my kids busy with swim lessons, mommy and me baking camps etc.  After those fun activities we would have some quiet time to write in our journals about what we did, what we liked or didn't like.  I let them pick out cool journals at the beginning of summer and bought stickers and cool pencils or gel pens as they got older.  I let them decorate their journals with the stickers and told them we would write in these during the summer but certainly not every day.  We wrote about 3 times a week in them.  Not only was this keeping their writing skills up but it gave me a glimpse into their feelings.  For instance, my daughter jumped right off the diving board at swim lessons but wrote about how much she DIDN'T like it.  She acted very brave and didn't come across like she didn't enjoy it but reflecting back in her journal she really wasn't a fan.  It was a good time to have them read their journal to me ( if they wanted ) and reflect on their feelings, thoughts, what they were looking forward to that summer or wanted to do.

If you have serious concerns about your child certainly discuss these with your child's teacher.  Some children do need a more formal intervention like tutoring over the summer.  If your child is on grade level or above these are simple ideas that you can be doing that should keep them right on pace to be ready for the next grade level.  Most importantly have fun, make memories and enjoy every moment!


Bundle Bonaza ~ Wait for it Wednesday

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
It's a special edition of Wait for it Wednesday friends!  It's in honor of YOU and all that YOU do!  I'm helping you celebrate by putting my bundles on an even BIGGER sale than normal on top of a SITE wide sale ~ WOW!~

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day friends!!!

I'm so excited to  be celebrating with you this week.  Our PTA is already spoiling us like crazy and I feel extra blessed this week for sure!

In honor of celebrating teachers I'm doing a ...

So...what does that mean you ask?!?!  Well  ~ ~ there's already a site wide sale going on  right?!!?  BUT ~ ~ ~ I am adding an extra bonus to my bundles AND they will be on sale through the rest of this week even after the TPT sale.  So, why not think ahead to next year and grab what you need now?!?!

Here are some of my sample bundles: But if you click this on my store's home page it will take you to all of them!

Oh happy day!!  Bundles are the bomb ~ ~ why not save even more by visiting my store today?!