Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School Sampler

As you have probably guessed, I am crazy busy getting ready for back to school. I might not be posting very regularly for another week or two but I wanted to share some of the things that have caught my interest the last week or so related to Back to School.
Lunchbox Printables

Did you see this adorable set of Lunchbox Printables from Kiki and Company? I am going to be using these with my students as well as my kids. So cute!

Mini Accountability Binder
I also have my eye on this mini accountability binder from Mique at 30 Handmade Days. I think it would be perfect for my youngest who is starting junior high this year.

Find the boy color version here.

I know many of us have been impacted by Robin Williams death. I have had a close family member hospitalized with depression and so this issue really hits home to me. I think a new school year is the perfect time to talk to our kids about anxiety, stress and depression and open the door to communication if they have any problems in the future.

I loved this list of celebrities who have struggled with depression in the Huffington Post. The reason I liked this article is that each brief paragraph outlined different ways that the celebrities have found to help them cope with that depression. I am sharing this with my children.

43 Inspiring Celebs Who Lived with Depression

Photo from Michelle Lehnardt Scenes form the

I also loved this post from Michelle Lehnardt at Scenes from the Wild. She talks about how the most important thins we can teach our kids is to be kind because "everyone they meet is fighting a hard battle."
Be Kind

The problem is that most parents say that they want their children to be kind but that is not the message that kids receive. This study shows that kids feel like their parents value grades more than they value kindness.

Parents value grades over kindness, kids say in new study

Something needs to change in the message that we are sending our children as they head back to school each year.

Perhaps you will want to join me in reading this letter to your kids before school starts

Dear Chase

Photo by Glennon at Momastery

Good luck in sending all your darling children back to school. I can't wait to welcome all my students into another fun year of growth and learning. 

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Friday, August 15, 2014

The Tortoise and the Hare at School

I have been getting more and more excited about this coming school year. I love the challenge of helping students of all different abilities and skill levels succeed. This year I have a particularly high number of students with learning disabilities and even a few with autism. I hope that I can be the teacher that makes a significant difference in their lives.

I am planning to begin the year by telling the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. I love this story as it relates to education and I think every parent should start out the school year telling this story to their kids.

You all know the story about how the slow and steady tortoise wins the race because he is never quits and just keeps on plodding steadily along. On the other hand, the hare loses because he coasts and takes it easy, thinking that he has the race in the bag. 

In my class, I translate the story into more modern language. Some of my students are like the tortoise. I call them Ninja Turtles. They might need to take things a little bit slower, they have a harder time in school and need extra help finishing assignments, but if they keep working hard and continue trying, they will win!! 

On the other hand, some of my students are like the Hare. I call them Energizer Bunnies. They are gifted students who find school easy, but they will lose if they don't continue to be challenged. They need to seek out additional projects and assignments to keep moving forward. They can't fall asleep (figuratively) in my class or they will lose the race in the long run. 

Share this story with your student at the beginning of the school year. Encourage your Ninja Turtle. Some of the brightest minds and smartest people in our world didn't do well in school (Think Albert Einstein.) If turtles work hard and keep trying, they are going to go on to do amazing things. 

Challenge your Energizer Bunny. Don't let her get comfortable doing the bare minimum. Help your bunny take on additional projects or learn about things that interest him apart from school. Don't let a bunny coast for very long or he will lose the momentum he needs to succeed in the long run.

Whether you have a turtle or a bunny (or both), have a great school year learning alongside your child.  

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First Day of School Conversation Snacks with QR Codes

My son went back to school today! Yikes! How did this happen? I don't start for another two weeks but for those of you already heading back to school, here is my favorite post from last year. It will get your kids talking about their first day experiences. 

First print out these tags and attach them to a cute bottle of pop and to a brown paper sack.

First Day of School Snack Tags

Leave the paper sack empty and let your child fill it as he or she answers the following questions:

1. Did you like your new teacher?
If Yes, add a handful of Skittles

If No, Add some sour skittles

2. Did you like your new class?

If Yes, add a handful of M&M's

If No, add a handful of raisins

3. Did you make a new friend?

If Yes, add a handful of peanuts

If No, Add a Handful of Cheerios Cereal

4. Did you like your lunch?

If Yes, add a handful of chocolate chips

If No, add a handful of pretzels

5. Did you do one assignment or project that you were proud of?

If Yes, add a handful of Smarties Candies

If No, add a handful of Airhead bites

Then your child can eat his or her snack mix and drink the soda pop as you talk about the first day of school. You can even pack up the treats and go to the park!

Here is what you will need to buy:
Sour Skittles
Cheerios Cereal
Chocolate Chips
Airhead Bites

There are two ways you can do this activity.
#1. You can print out the first day of school questions with pictures. The pages look like the blog post above with questions and answers telling what they should add.

First Day of School Questions with Pictures

#2. Or you can print out these pages with QR Codes for the answers. I like the QR codes because when you use a smart phone to scan the Yes or No answers, you get a little compliment or pep talk along with the snack item. (Note: All you need to scan QR Codes with a smart phone or tablet is a QR Code Reader such as Qrafter Pro.)

First Day of School Questions with QR Codes

Here is an example of one of the messages that is included on a QR Code page:

No, you didn't do an assignment you are proud of today.
But tomorrow is your day to shine! Just try to do your best every day and that will make me proud!

Add this to your snack mix:

Sometimes it is discouraging as a Mom when we want to hear all about our child's day at school and all we get are answers like this: "It was okay." "Fine." "I don't know." "Nothing." "Sure." etc. etc.

I hope this activity will help you celebrate the first day of school and get a little bit more information out of your student! Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hogwarts Week 8 Results

We are so sad that the Hogwarts Summer Fun Challenge has come to an end. The Grand Prize Winner for the House Cup this summer is....

Congratulations Gryffindors! Harry, Ron, and Hermione would be proud. We are excited to start sending out the certificates, Bertie Botts Beans and Wands to the winners. If you didn't participate this summer, please join us next summer for new activities and even more summer fun.

Here are some last photos of the fun the students had at Hogwarts this week.

Having a reading marathon with pillows and snacks!

Playing Yatzee or Dominoes....

Mixing a magic potion that will cause another family member to obey your every command! Do you think it worked? 

Playing a new outdoor game as a family! Love the stilts!

Taking a picture of the sunset. Look how beautiful. 

Going Geocaching for the first time... 

Writing a Thank You Note to a Coach or Teacher. 

Making some goals for the new school year and hanging on the ceiling in your room. 

Transforming natural objects into something new and different. Check out the creativity displayed below! 

And my favorite... sending a summer letter to a family member or friend. 

These boys really wanted to send their summer letter to their Grandmother who has recently passed away. They attached their letters to balloons and sent them to heaven for Grandma to read. How precious is that? 

Thanks so much to everyone for participating. I think this has been my favorite year yet. Watch for your prizes in the mail in about three weeks! 

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