Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Sale! (...and Vacation Workstation updates)

To kickoff summer vacation, all of my products are on sale from June 22-25.

Also, I've updated the Vacation Workstation to include a Book Bingo sheet for younger students (Kinder-1st grade) and have added a Math Blackout with activities for students who are preparing for grade 1.*

Teachers Pay Teachers
Teachers Notebook

Welcome to Summer!

*If you've already purchased the Vacation Workstation, you can download the updates at any time.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Job Cards - a Stay Sane Freebie

School is now OUT; summer, bring it on! I just made a set of Summer Job Cards in an effort to:
  • keep Momma sane
  • try on the "perfect summer parent" facade
  • avoid THIS (we're in serious trouble!)
It's a freebie to use how you see fit.*

Let me just say this...  I have FIVE kids. Some of them have made me feel like the mother-of-the-year award was imminent. Those kiddos probably didn't need a summer schedule. Others have been a tad harder to parent. (Although I haven't yet run naked, screaming, out the front door, it is occasionally in the realm of possibility.)

How the System Works
Each morning--or the prior evening if I want to still be in the running to become America's Perfect Summer Parent--I select the task cards I want each child to complete the next day and place them in a pocket chart. The order of completion is up to them. I have learned that it's wise to appear to give the natives some sense of control...even if it's just a mirage. I really don't care when it gets done. Although kids are generally fed after pets are fed. And playtime with friends usually happens after jobs are done. You get the picture.

Some of the cards go with the Vacation Workstation. But most are just routine tasks that I will need to repeat two-hundred-and-seventeen-times-a-day if they aren't written down.

*If you're already up for mother-of-the-year, disregard this post. If not, you might want to use the second, blank sheet to make additional job cards to fit your children's needs. I printed ours on cardstock.

Happy Summer, Everyone!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Curriculum Sale Crazy!!! (The Top 10 Indicators)

How do you know that you need intervention are addicted to curriculum sales?

Top 10 Signs You Are Curriculum Sale Crazy
...counting down from #10:

10. Your 1000s of books are deemed inadequate to properly school your [one?] child.

Just one section. Of just the picture books. Sigh.
9. You buy books for a grade level that you won't likely teach next year.

8. You buy books for a subject you won't likely teach next year.

7. You are seriously considering putting your 2.5 file cabinets (10 packed drawers) on Atkins.

6. The following locations are FULL and have no additional free space for curriculum, manipulatives, children's books, or ANYTHING  ELSE:
  • schoolroom
  • livingroom
  • closets
  • bedrooms
  • bathrooms
  • garage
  • barn
5. Returning from curriculum sales, you wrap the goods in a plain, brown paper bag--or bag(S) as the case may be--sneak in, and stash them. Wherever there's room. See #6.

4. You have 3 or 4 copies of certain math-related children's books. Cause you might need multiples.

Recent Finds!
3. You snag OTHER PEOPLE'S curriculum lists to take shopping.

2. You attend THREE different sales in less than 10 days time. All because of #10.

1. Curriculum sales are your FAVORITE form of aerobic exercise LEISURE ACTIVITY.

So something like this *might* happen:

Your daughter graduates Friday night. You're up late. You get up at 5am Saturday to get ready for her grad party that starts at 2pm. Mid-morning, you get in the car. Drive 45 minutes to a curriculum sale. Shop 20ish tables in ~ an hour. Drive 45 minutes back. And return in time to host 70+ people from 2-10pm.

Like to confess your own curriculum sale addiction? Leave a comment.

P.S. In case you don't know what Curriculum Sales are:
In our area we have used curriculum sales put on by the homeschool community in which you can get insanely great stuff. Cheap. As an example, I passed up a stack of Big Books marked at 50 cents each. Last year I filled a box--for about $5--with books and curriculum to study our state (a teacher was selling all her 4th grade materials) and she still had 3 or more tables left of state-related stuff after I was finished.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Top 5 Posts of the Month: Summer Ideas Galore!

Since school is winding down for most of you (and the kids are winding up??), I'm following the lead of Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and posting some ideas for summer blog reading (and summer kid entertaining.) The following Top 5 Posts garnered the most visits during the past month and are perfect to inspire summer learning! Starting with #5...

#5: Visual Models Make the Math! - Yesterday, I went to a local used curriculum sale (drool!), and found a kit designed to teach educators about the importance of math manipulatives. Who'da thunk? It reminded me of this post and the comments/discussion that followed.

#4: Milk Cap Math: MADS Elimination - I created this math game--one of my most frequently pinned posts--using nothing more than dice and recycled milk caps. Gather your milk caps and set the kids to play all summer long! (And pat yourself on the back for sneaking in some math practice!)

#3: Fraction Relationships on the Geoboard App - Summer is a great time to explore the educational possibilities using apps, both online and electronic device versions. I love the *free* geoboard app for its fraction possibilities; play now, put in use this school year!

#2: Vacation Workstation...a Brain Playground - Looking for a way to keep kids' brains active this summer using a simple file folder and a few handouts? Some of my students are busy using theirs. I heard the Book Bingo got a thumbs-up (already with some crossed-out spaces!)  and Monopoly already earned them credit toward Math Blackout. And here's a new find to add: this great set of grade level booklists. I printed them today to add to my boys' workstations.

#1 Most Popular! : Math Game List for Teachers and Parents - Carting home new, used (!) games from curriculum sales and garage sales? Have piles of games already sitting on your shelf? Grab this list to start thinking about how common games address math concepts and gather the kids to play!

And I can't leave out the #1 most popular PAGE, now pinned over 152,000 times...which beat the top post by more than 10x...

Drum Roll, Please...

Math in Children's Literature: THE LIST - I continually update this list of math-related children's literature. (After a curriculum sale like yesterday, I have a new stack of titles to add!) Great for summer reading, both for kids and educators. Enjoy and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jo Boaler: How to Learn Math (FREE online from Stanford!)

Jo Boaler is a Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford. Sounds a tad scary, right? But she is one of the most down-to-earth, interesting speakers I've ever heard. I strongly recommend her book, What's Math Got to Do With It?, for summer reading.

We are so, so lucky that she is offering a FREE, online course through Stanford this summer: How to Learn Math. In 10-15 minute increments, teachers and parents can learn more about how to "enjoy and learn math well." I can't wait! See you there!

Here's the promo:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Graduation Reflections

My daughter graduates from high school this week.

[Weep, cry, SOB!!!!] Sorry...I'll try to keep it under wraps for the rest of this post.

I've been reflecting on the last 13 years of my daughter's education. I learned a few things in that 13 years:
  • even if you've already packed a note for your child in his backpack, check the corner before you leave the house. Just sayin'.
  • if you can't tell the difference between your high schooler's room and the inside of a dumpster, SHUT. THE. DOOR.
  • AP stands for "aggravated parent"
  • snuggling on the couch with kids and a good book is memory making material.
And this biggie:

Homeschooling is the best thing for some kids. Public (or private) schooling is the best thing for some kids. And a combination of both is the best thing for others.

This child went to public school kindergarten. Then spent 1st-7th at home. Then spend 8th-12th in public school. I know some people worry about transitioning kids from homeschool to public. But here's the thing...a good education is a good education, no matter where you get it.

She is so ready for the world. And her momma is so not ready to send her off (...or to make the food and decorations for the upcoming grad party, hence the lack of posts you might see this week.)

I'm feeling mighty respectful of the educational decisions that individual families make for their kids. The decisions we've made have been hard. (Still making them as we try to decide which youngers are doing what for school next year.) But, at least this time, we got it right.

Feeling mighty thankful.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Oregon Regions: iMovie, Music & Memories

I don't consider myself very tech-savvy, especially in the classroom. But it's easy to get excited when you look at the potential for what even a little tech can do.  If you have iMovie and a camera, your kids (school, homeschool, or on summer break) could do their own version of a project like this.

As a final class project, some of my students gathered to make an Oregon Regions music slideshow/video using the song from our Oregon Regions class last term. We brainstormed photos/scenes that might capture the regions. In groups, students then chose a region and planned photos to depict each verse.

I explained how they needed to "set the scene"...i.e. they couldn't just take a picture of a tree or a shell...they needed to think about angle, background, set-up and what would look good in a photo. With limited equipment (no class set of iPads here!), they planned the photos and set the scenes and called me over to snap the pictures. They ran all over the place, trying to figure out what would make the best pictures. They built a sandcastle, dressed up, got their toes sandy, posed dolls and bears and skulls,...and had a great time! We recorded the song on GarageBand and I synced their photos with it using iMovie. They would love to share their hard work with you here:

(If anyone knows how to change the picture that YouTube automatically chooses to represent the movie, let me know. A skull would not have been my first choice!  Update: FIXED! Thank you, helpers!)

Although my equipment is limited, I want to do another project where the kids take all the photos and do the project independently. I just saw this idea on arrays in a blog entry and can't wait to try it!

Note: If you are interested in the "Oregon Regions: I Love to Go a Wandering Song," (original text by my mom & co-teacher, Carolyn Hockman), it's included in the Explore Oregon Regions Unit.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop Announcement & Poll

Math Monday Blog Hop is going on summer break. (I apologize to those of you waaaayyy down south. Consider it your winter break!) After hopping around the garden all summer, the hop will be back in the fall, all set for a new school year.  (BTW...I'm not going on break...just the hop! I'd have a really hard time staying quiet for a whole summer!)

I'm considering a change in format...perhaps setting a calendar with a new math concept each week. This would run through the fall and bloggers could add to each week--by concept--as they create new entries. Therefore, blog hops would stay open for weeks, allowing for entries over a longer period of time. Readers could go straight to the week/concept they would like to explore. Here's a sample:

1st week Sept: geometry
2nd week Sept: subitizing
3rd week Sept: time
(just examples, nothing set in stone!)

I'd love some feedback. Visit the poll below to chime in. Feel free to comment below as well. Thank you!

Vacation Workstation...a Brain Playground

Was on my "To-Do" List:

1. Create something for my 7 & 10yo boys to do for a bit of "summer school."
2. Make a parting gift for my 3rd-5th grade class. (Shhhh...don't tell!)

Now on my "Done!" list! :)

Introducing the Vacation Workstation...a Brain Playground!

Left section
Right section

Using these adorable workstations--made from simple file folders--students keep their brains active with:
  • Nature Journal Mini Books - children go outside and use words and pictures to record things in the natural environment.
  • Math Blackout - using household games (suggested Math Game List is included, though individual users will need to take inventory of the games they have available), students play one game each day, focusing on different math concepts. I'm excited to make use of the games that we have available, encouraging my kiddos to try out a variety of the games we already own.
  • Book Bingo - children select diverse reading materials by choosing content from ideas on a grid. Each of the 4 different sheets may be played as a bingo (3 in a row) or as a blackout.
  • Reading List - students record the date and title of books read, either as a daily log or to record books completed.

After assembly, the accordion-style workstation can be used as-is or made into a compact book, approximately 8 1/2" x 4 1/2". (Let me publicly profess my new love for rainbow duct tape!)

Workstations are best suited for  ~ grades 2-6.* (Book Bingo includes chapter book suggestions like "Newbery Award.") 

*Update (6/22/2013) - The file has been updated to include a Book Bingo sheet for grades K-1 and a Math Blackout activity sheet for students preparing for grade 1.

In the homeschool setting, workstations can be used on an ongoing basis. They might also be assigned as independent homework during the school year. Complete directions with photos and worksheets are included. A Family Letter is also included to help parents implement the activities with their children.

Available through Teachers Notebook or Teachers Pay Teachers.

Happy Vacation!

Graphics (background & frames) by

P.S. Monday is my last day with my sweet class. This is an
end-of-year gift for my students & a welcome-to-summer gift for my own kids! :) See below...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Moebius Noodles Winner!!

Announcing the winner of:  Moebius Noodles: Adventurous Math for the Playground Crowd picked #3:

Thank you all for entering! And a special thanks to Yelena McManaman, co-author of Moebius Noodles: Adventurous Math for the Playground Crowd.

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