Friday, June 27, 2014

Combating the Summer Slide- Tips and Resources for Summer Learning

Summer means playing, resting, hanging out with friends, going to the park, taking family vacations, splashing in the pool, staying up, and sleeping in late. It is also time for the Summer Slide! Lily from Personal Creations ( a fabulous website full of unqiue and personalized gifts)  is putting together a School All Summer Project. Their goal is to help students learn more over the summer in fun and exciting ways. So, she asked me to write about how to help promote meaningful summer learning!

As teachers, the words "Summer Slide" make us cringe. That dreaded phrase refers to the summer months when our kiddos are away from school, get out of the routine, and are often exposed to little or no learning experiences at all. That time of "rest", while much needed, allows for children to forget important skills and concepts because they are not continuously practicing them.

But, there are many ways to sneak in learning opportunities with your kiddos to help them maintain a solid learning foundation throughout the summer months! Before you get started, come up with a plan. Here are 4 tips to help you begin your planning. 

1. Make a plan and stick to it. 20-30 minutes a day is all that you need! I know that your summer is busy, so keep the learning simple and short. Try doing it first thing in the morning! Kristen from Busy Kids Happy Mom suggests making a theme for each day! I think that is great! It will help the kiddos establish a routine. They know that it is Tuesday so that means they do writing on Tuesday. Check out her ideas for daily themes here

2. Find meaningful activities. Kiddos learn best when the activities and learning experiences are relevant. You are their parent. You know them best. What do they like to do? I have complied a list of fun and engaging ideas with resources that parents can use at home. 
Click on the image or here to download the list!

3. Work alongside your child. If you are asking your child to read then make sure you sit down and read alongside them. Are they writing a journal entry? Why not sit with them and write a note to a neighbor or family member? Don't leave them to complete a task unattended. Instead, I encourage you to work with them. You are setting a great example and being a fabulous role model! It will energize you and your child! Promise!

4. Celebrate your child's learning success! Did you get in your 20 minutes of learning in each day this week? Did your child work exceptionally hard? Did they finish reading a book or complete a word problem correctly? Celebrate your child's successes-no matter how big or how small. It could be an ice cream trip, going to the park, etc. 

I looked far and wide to find ideas and activities that, I felt, were relevant and meaningful. I do not take credit for any of these ideas, but I hope that pulling so many great sources together into one place will save you some time searching them on your own.  Hopefully, you will find these helpful! 

*This post may contain affiliate links.

Are you ready to combat the summer slide?!?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Writing Center Inspirations

Our school has adopted the Lucy Calkins Units of Study writing program for the upcoming school year. I have already been to one training on it and have heard so much positive feedback that I can't wait to get started with my kiddos this fall. One of the biggest traits that I have noticed while researching the program is the use of writing centers and writing areas. To be completely honest, I have always asked students to work on their writing at their seats. My students and I have had great success with writing workshop and writing conferences, but I feel like taking writing to this next level will allow my students to be more creative and more well rounded in the development of their writing craft.

The plan is to provide students with a "home base" where they can find writing references, tools, and supplies. I don't expect them to stay at the writing center. In fact, I am going to encourage them to select what they want from the center and take it back with them to their own personal writing space. I know I am going to have to get comfortable with the idea of the students writing all over the room, but we rarely stay in our seats for reading and math so the adjustment should be an easy one. 

Here are some writing center ideas and spaces that I have found that are going to help me create my own writing area.

Don't you just love all of these? I.Can't.Wait!

My room hasn't been waxed or cleaned yet so it will still be a few weeks before I can get in to start piecing the room back together. So, these pictures will have to help me out until I can start building my own writing center. 

Do you have a writing area? Do you have any tips you could share? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Made It

I hadn't planned on posting a Monday Made It today, but Tara mentioned that I should share my new classroom door decor so here we go!

I just love this linky. I get pretty jealous at how creative and crafty you all are. My school summer project list is still a mile high, but maybe I will get everything completed in time for the new school year. 

In the meantime, I did have a craft night out with the best friend this past Friday. Our cute, little downtown has a pottery shop called The Pink Pig. It is an adorable store. Recently, they have started to expand from pottery and now offer canvas, craft, and glass classes. 

We made these adorable 4th of July friendly door hangers. Mine is going on my classroom door for Labor Day in September. 
I am soooooo excited to share the steps to make this adorable door hanger with you. Sorry for the "not so great" picture steps, but I didn't plan ahead. I just snapped the following pictures on my own randomly without thinking to do a tutorial, but I think you will get the gist. 

Long sheets of burlap
Butcher paper(for tracing)
Red, White, and Blue Acrylic paint
Ribbon(for bow)
Hot Glue and Gun
Paintbrushes(including a foam brush with circular tip)
Plastic Bags(for stuffing)
Chevron Painters Tape

Use the butcher paper to draw a star. This was my downfall from the get-go because I CANNOT DRAW A STAR without a pattern. My star turned out a little wacky, but my classroom kids won't notice. Then, take a sharpie and trace your star onto the burlap. You will need to trace 2 stars(one to paint and one to be the back). Cut out the stars and place one of them to the side. You won't need it until the very end. 

 Paint the entire star white. I left burlap at the edge of mine, but some of the ladies painted all the way to the edge and it looked great. 

 After you have let the white paint dry, add your blue. Make sure that your edges are straight. Once you have painted the blue and let it dry, you are ready to add your chevron painters tape. It is really important that your chevron lines up the entire time. The pieces should fit together. If you were to move them to where they are touching then they would just slide into place(hope that makes sense!eek!)
Paint over the white with the red paint to create the stripes on the flag.  I would paint a little then tape a little. 

Pull up the painter's tape. Then, add your white circles as stars. I used a foam circle brush. Once it has dried, go get that second piece of burlap and glue it to the back of your painted piece. Glue all but one "arm" of the star. Stuff extra butcher paper or plastic grocery bags inside the star to give it some depth. Once you have stuffed it then you can glue the final arm together. 

Make your bow and attach it where you think it fits best. I liked mine to the side, but some ladies put theirs on top. Don't forget to use the wire to create a hook. I just thread mine through the actual burlap. 

Hope that makes sense. Those are super quick steps, and making detailed craft instructions are not my jam. :)

If you make one...send me a picture! I want to see you final project!

Make sure you go check out the other Monday Made It posts.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Made It

I have a funny feeling that this summer is going to be full of sitting at my computer doing homework. I keep telling myself that it will all be worth it soon! Monday Made-Its will probably be few and far between this summer, but that's okay! I do have a few to share with you today! This is one of my all time favorite link ups. Thanks, Tara from 4th Grade Frolics

It makes my heart happy to see so many teachers inspired to eat healthy and exercise. One day I will get around to posting my struggles and successes with my Graves' Disease and Thyroidectomy surgery in regards to weight gains and losses, but for now- I want to share with you an easy recipe that you can make at home to help you stay FIT and HEALHY. Teachers work super hard and oftentimes we let ourselves go because we are so focused on helping out everyone else around us. That is NOBLE and FABULOUS, but we have to remember to take care of ourselves, too. Eating healthy can be the first step. Have you ever looked at ingredients on the label of your salad dressing? Chances are-the healthy salad that you just made yourself is pretty much "done-zo" after you pour your dressing on it. The ingredients in most dressings are disgusting. So, here is a simple and healthy recipe for Italian Dressing that you can make at home in less that one minute, and it tastes amazing. 

 I have NO idea where the recipe came from. It got passed on to me. So...if this looks like your recipe please let me know so I can give you credit! :) 

Just click on the picture to download the recipe!

My second Monday Made It is my B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. planner from the Amazing April at A Modern Teacher. I have bragged about her planners a few times before, and I wanted to share my finished product again this year. 

I was a hot mess of organized chaos during my first year of teaching. I had a notebook to jot down ideas in. I had a planner that had the monthly calendar and just enough room to scribble down a few ideas for each day, and there was a grade book/lesson plans folder that got carried around with me as well. It was organized(sorta). I looked like a crazy carrying around a bag of "stuff" with me everywhere, and it just wasn't working for me.

I went on a hunt for a planner package that was going to give me the "All-In-One" deal so that I didn't have to carry and keep up with 5 different things each day. I checked out the fancy ones that seem to be all the rage, but I just didn't feel that it had what I needed. Then, I stumbled across an IG post from April last summer showing her new planners. I checked them out on her blog, and decided to give it a try. 

I have never looked back. Here are a few reasons that I LOVE April's planner:

* Everything is laid out in a teacher-friendly format.
*She offers pages for her planner to help you connect home and school.
*She provides multiple formats and designs for you to choose from.
*It is editable which means to you type your plans and then print or customize the pages to make them meet your specific needs. 
*You can print off what you need and add other aspects with ease.
*The planners are made by a fellow teacher.
*They are extremely affordable. 

I tried to show just a few snapshots. April has a great video that really highlights all of the different forms that are now included in her planner. This year, she added new guided reading, math, and writing forms to her planner. I can't wait to use them.

I am in LOVE with mine. I now have my calendar, plans, grade book, and other important everyday documents in ONE cute, affordable, and customized spiral planner. 

If you are looking for a planner then I suggest you head to April's blog or TPT store for more information!

Heading over now to check out the rest of the Monday Made It posts! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

April's SLANTbox in June

So due to some slight postal problems, I am just now getting around to sharing my awesome SLANTbox. Have you participated in this fun little exchange with Jameson over at Lessons With Coffee? It is a ball of fun for sure! 

SLANT stands for Sending Love Across the Nation for Teachers. It is a great project where teachers(you don't have to be a blogger) can pair up with one another and send month themed care packages to each other in the mail. 

I was recently paired up with Jameson(the mastermind behind this sweet project) and am so excited to share with you my box and its' contents.

After opening all of the sweet little packages(each with their own notes and clues), I was super excited to receive my first ever copy of The Little Prince

The theme of the month was to send a book and a box full of goodies that related to that book. 
 I can't wait to carry my glasses in this case, and I now have FOX erasers! I will be cooler than the cool kids. 

I can't wait to find a fabulous way to use this in my classroom!  

Love this, too!

 The illustrations on the notecards really do look a lot like the illustrations in the book!

This scarf is adorable!

I couldn't be more excited about this awesome package. Now, I have an awesome book to share with my students, a whole bunch of goodies, and a great IG/blogger friend who I hope to get to meet in person one day.

Thank you Jameson. You are a gem!

If you haven't signed up for a box yet then head on over to Jameson's blog to get the scoop!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Disappointing Data- Wordless Wednesday

I hope this photo generates some discussion. The following paragraph made me so mad after reading that I had to stop working on my homework assignment(such a tragedy!) and cool down.

Do you agree with this data? Does this match your school setting? What tips do you use to help boost parent support, involvement, interaction, and interest in your individual classroom? 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Blog Hop

Guess what?!?! SUMMER IS COMING!!!! I know that most of us are done or almost(hang in there folks..the end is near!) done with school. Now, the summer rest and relaxation can begin.
But...let's be real. Even though many of us will be lazy, sleep in, take lots of naps, do a whole bunch of awesome stuff that we don't/can't do during the school year....most of us are already thinking about next school year. Don't fight it-embrace it! 
And..what better way to start planning and enjoying our break than participating in a Summer Blog Hop hosted by the ever-so-fabulous Britney from Tailor-made Teaching?!? 

9 Funtastic bloggers have gotten together to share some summer freebies with you. 

It is going to be epic. If you are reading this then you have most likely stopped here after visiting Britney's blog and snatching her freebie!

So...WELCOME! I am so excited that you are here.

I love to take pictures. There is just something about snapping that tiny moment in a kiddo's life and sending it home to share with his/her family that makes my heart melt. 
Another thing I love is banners. They are so fun, and can spice up a photo in no time!

This fall, I plan on using this fun "I love___ grade!" banner in some form or fashion. I might use it for photos, or maybe I will add it to our hallway display. So.Many. Options. Folks.

So, grab your exclusive Summer Blog Hop freebie by clicking the image below.

 I will add a bigger version in my TPT store over the next few days.

Now that you have 2 freebies to add to your teaching toolbox of awesomeness- head on over to Marcy from Searching for Teacher Balance for another great summer freebie.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great rest of the hop. I hope you snag some awesome goodies!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Currently

Y'ALL It's June....and I have a slight confession to make( I feel like I make a lot of "slight" confessions to you) about how my summer is going. I am in the whole weird " what" phase.

This is how my thought process went the last few days-


PRAISE THE LORD-AH(Cause in the South we drag out ev. rah. thang)..







Yes. The cap locks were needed because this is like(my high school English teacher would cringe reading this blog with all of my "likes" inserted in random places) an inner battle that I have with myself every.single.morning.

So..I sleep in a little, work out a little, try to do homework then take a break and work on things for next school year, then sleep, eat, repeat, etc.

My brain is kind of in a spiral of repeat so I figured that there would be no interesting post today other than the fact that I am linking up with Farley's June Currently, and THAT my friends is interesting enough.

I love this linky. I can't wait to look back years from now and read what was going through this crazy ol' head of mine. It's either going to be really terrifying or really, really cool. I am hoping for the later. we go!

Listening- Jack Johnson is the MAN, and the waves hitting the boat is just summer bliss.
Loving- I am terrified that this summer is going to be so busy that it won't feel like summer. SO, I am loving the current down time. 
Thinking- I am so excited about this upcoming school year. I have big plans. AND I CAN'T WAIT! It is going to be epic. 
Wanting- Southwest/Hispanic/Latin food is my jam. I could each it every day. The REAL stuff. Chips and salsa is my weakness. 
Needing- Who needs to do laundry on vacation? Apparently not I. 
Summer Bucket List- I am going to Vegas in July for the TPT conference. Are you?!?!