ABC and 123

Monday, April 28, 2014

Elephant & Piggie Book Extension Activity

I Am Invited to a Party! 

(An Elephant and Piggie Book) 

by Mo Willems

Our kids LOVE the Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems.  The text is easy enough for our youngest reader, but still laughable for our older kids.  The character illustrations say so much with very few words and offer plenty of opportunity to practice inferencing. 

During our many re-reads of these books our family began to brainstorm ways to bring Elephant and Piggie into our playtime too.  In the coming days we hope to share several Mo Willems extension activities for your early childhood kiddos to enjoy.

The Basics:
After reading the book together pull out your dress up collection for some party primping.  Print a stack of invites (see below) and brainstorm goofy party possibilities.  Begin by handing each child an invite and letting them get creative about their costuming. Once they are getting in to the game let them choose their own cards and have you, or their friends, try to guess what type of party they have been invited to.  This simple game brings new life to the costume box and LOTS of giggles!

Before filling out the cards you may want to take inventory of your classroom (or home) dress up collection to be sure there are sufficient props to prep for the appropriate parties.  Here are a few silly examples of the parties our family was invited to:  Kitchen Owl Party, Construction Monkey Party, Clown Doctor Party, Star Wars Dog Party, Pirate Tea Party, Princess Pool Party, Ghost Baseball Party.  If is also fun to leave some cards blank. As the kids get into the silliness of inventing wardrobes they will come up with great combinations of their own to add to the blank cards.


For more extension activities check out our Mo Willems board on Pinterest!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Ultimate Library for Creating & Nurturing a Home that Thrives

Teachers, homeschool families, and parents of young children love a great library. We spend lots of time researching the best resources, reading book reviews, and browsing the aisles in our favorite book stores.  In the summer months we spend hours catching up on the newest techniques, tips, and strategies for teaching and learning.    Books are kind of our thing. 
We truly love a great library!
Today we wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to share an opportunity to build the ultimate library of homemaking resources with our book loving readers. While not every book in this collection may make its way to your classroom, the material included in this library is sure to simplify many other aspects of your busy life.  
Here is a small glimpse at some of the titles that are available, by clicking through the picture you can see the titles and descriptions of each book as well as the book's individual value.  The books are all listed by category and you will soon discover that the deal seems too good to be true.  
I am especial excited to check out 101 Activities for Toddlers and Preschools, The Preschool Jouney, and two different variations on Homeschool Planners.  I think it will also be fun to spend some time with Monkey See, Monkey Do: A Guide to Using PicMonkey to make pictures look professional.  There are so many amazing titles included in this library.
On top of the fantastic collection of Kindle or PDF titles, this bundle includes over $200 worth of free products and subscriptions for you to sample.  We are looking forward to experimenting with the free eco-friendly laundry detergent, which in itself holds the value of this whole bundle.
The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is available for 5 days only.  Check it out today and when summer reading season hits we should meet back here and chat about the tips and tricks you are most excited to add to next year's lessons for life plan!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Inspiration for Educators: Just Call It Good Teaching

What do you think?  What quotes really stood out to you or challenged you?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tools for Building Vocabulary

Are you looking for simple, fun ways to build your students' vocabulary? 
We have collected a few suggestions to help you out!

As a classroom teacher, one of my favorite vocabulary building tools was the Vocabulary Anchor.  We used a large laminated poster of a sail boat and anchor, set up as the illustration below, without the words on it.  Each day the class would work together to fill in the chart using the new word of the day.  As a quick way to review, during short transition times, I would call out past vocabulary words and they would respond with the anchor words.
With young students it is fun to build basic vocabulary with a game we called "Name It."  On small slips of paper create Name It cards with simple prompts such as: an article of clothing, a body part, a state, a fruit, etc.  With the children in a line or a row have the first child pick a card.  The teacher says, "A fruit, name it!"  The first 3-5 children each think of one word that fits the category.  Each word must be different from the person before them.  After 3-5 students, have someone pick a new category and continue listing new words.
What's My Word, from Classroom Game Nook, is an interactive way for students to really get to know a new vocabulary word while recording their new learning.

On our Pinterest board, titled Vocabulary Building, we have collected links to several other favorite Vocabulary Building Games you may be interested in trying with your students.

Multimedia Vocabulary Tools
To encourage interaction with technology while studying vocabulary, the following sites are fantastic.

EGlossary provides interactive definitions that are read aloud to students and provide animated graphics.

VocabAhead offers an email subscription for a Word a Day as well as a great vocabulary guessing app that is available online.


Science Glossary, Geography Glossary, and Math Glossary offer online alternatives to practicing content vocabulary.

Listing synonyms and antonyms for a new vocabulary term becomes a creative outlet if you use Tagul or Tagxedo.

What are your tips and tricks for making vocabulary instruction entertaining and effective?

Disclosure: None of the links above are sponsored.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Throwing a #Frozen Olaf Party

Disney has once again become the inspiration for our family's winter birthday girl.  The huge success of Frozen, as well as our ridiculously frozen winter here in Michigan, made an Olaf party on obvious choice this year. Not sure if I was thinking clearly when I agreed to letting my 8 year old invite her class to a pool party at our local aquatic center, but it made for the perfect setting for her friends to do "what frozen things do in summer!"


 frozen ice cap jello

 Olaf donut faces, Rice Krispie treat ice chunks, and snowman string cheese

Snowman accessories: buttons, noses, and arms
The kids used these to turn their donuts into snowmen

 thank you notes


We created this game board as a variation on one of our silly family favorites, Don't Eat Pete. Put one marshmallow on each square of the game board.  One child is sent from the room while the other children choose which Olaf must not be eaten.  The first child returns and beings eating the marshmallows one at a time.  If/When the child tries to eat the piece on the chosen Olaf, the rest of the kids yell, "Don't Eat Olaf!"  The kids count how many they were able to eat before they tried to eat the Olaf, then refill the board for the next player.

                                 a game board and pieces for each child to take home

snowman stacks

Set the timer for 1 minute.  Everyone works by themselves to build as many snowman stacks on their mat before the timer rings.  Each stack must have at least 3 marshmallow.


 snow dough packaged with button beads, clay noses, and twigs

fleece scarves rolled and wrapped with a note

My daughter spent many hours of a snow day happily cutting and knotting these for her guests.  The scarves were a perfect way to cozy up after chillin' in the pool, changing out of suits, and heading home.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Classroom Valentines

disclosure: affiliate links included below

As a child, and now as a mom and educator, my favorite holiday has always been Valentine's Day.  I love all things friendship, hearts, frilly, flowers, pink, red, purple, chocolate and more.  All the things Valentine's Day brings. In our house we begin putting together classroom Valentines early in January in anticipation.  Here are a few ideas we tried last year and those in the top running for this year.  It sure is fun to collect clever ideas from other bloggers and we would love to see what you have in the works for February 14th!

original idea from Design Mom
original idea from Paging Supermom
original idea from Living Locutro
Although we used candy hearts last year we especially love the options that include a treat that isn't sweet.  This year our oldest wants to pass out toy soldiers, my daughter has made piles of freindship bracelets to attach to her notes, and our preschooler is handing out adorable Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Bag of Bugs.  Our inspiration for this year's, yet to be assembled, Valentines comes from these clever bloggers:

What are you creating for classroom Valentine's this year?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Planning for Life Outside of the Classroom

Putting together amazing activities,  planning detailed themes, writing curriculum, and implementing it all with students of many different ages is a joy and a pleasure.  However, it leaves us lacking in time and energy for the necessary tasks of meal planning, ingredient list making, and grocery shopping.
eMeals is an online service committed to giving teachers and moms a break by creating weekly menus and assembling the ingredient lists.  In addition, eMeals promises to keep meals affordable without the need for stock piling or couponing, while still keeping their valuable service incredibly affordable.
My family has been experimenting with eMeals for several months.  To begin, choose your perfect plan from a variety of options. Menu plan options are available for large families or couples. They consider your favorite grocery store, as well as specialty needs such as: gluten free, low carb, low fat, vegetarian, and portion control diets.

After choosing your menu plan print off one or two weeks worth of menus (the site displays two weeks - current week & previous).  I put the meal plans in plastic sleeves, one side showing the menu and the other side showing the pre-planned shopping list.

Shop, Unload, Cook, Serve, Smile!
(Let someone else in your family do the clean up so you can head back to your lesson planning, grading, and crafting)
Easy, right?
Before trying eMeals I was a bit worriedour grocery bill would increase based on unusual ingredient lists sometimes found on meal planning services.  I also wondered if the weekly menus would include main dishes our family would actually enjoy.

The plan my family is currently enjoying is the Slow Cooker Meal Plan and it is not grocery store specific plan. The recipes all have fairly short ingredient lists and all of the instructions for each meal fit in a small grid box (which means they aren't very complicated!). Having dinner cooking in the Crock Pot as we all roll in after school is a life saver.

During our first month with eMeals our grocery bill actually went down because I am shopping with more of a plan in mind.  I am excited about the fantastic line up of new recipe ideas I've collected. The plans have encouraged me to try some new flavors we typically don't include in our menu.  After a couple nights of rave reviews from our kids my husband wanted in on the new secret. I'm more motivated to make dinner and I am spending less time in the grocery store. 
The cost of the service is a very reasonable $1.25 a week and worth every penny to me!  As an added bonus, members get a FREE holiday menu when they sign up for eMeals. They can choose between our Classic, Paleo, or Clean Eating Holiday Plans. See the recipes and images you can use below to promote it. You have access to the full menus in your members’ area on our website. You can also offer your readers the discount code HOLIDAY for 15% off.

Disclosure: E-Meals is currently providing our family with a 1 year subscription while I participate in their blogger outreach network.