July 1, 2015

MONTHLY READS: June 2015


So June was a little crazier than expected, so not as much reading as I'd have liked.  A lot of my reading consisted of me reading a page and a half at 11:30pm, dozing off and scaring myself awake by dropping the book on my face.


MY READ(S)

So this book is really killing me...I mean, I've been trying to get through it forever.  Or maybe it just feels like that. I'm sure it's me, not this book.  I've been really busy.  But for the love of everything pure and good, when will it be over!?! I've got about 1/4 left. 
NOAH'S READS

Noah is currently in-between books.  He does this.  He will finish something and be indecisive about what to read next so he'll just page through Diary of a Wimpy Kid books till he finds something else.  My suggestions are currently not whetting his appetite.  I may have to send him to the library this afternoon...
JACK'S READS

Jack has been making me so proud with his devotion to summer reading.  He literally disappeared for a whole afternoon to read.  I didn't see the kid for three full hours.  This is the kid that claimed to not really enjoy reading in January! I love it.  So he finished the Goblet of Fire in the Harry Potter series and decided to take a break from HP.  We picked through our shelves and found several that looked appealing.  He finally decided on Twenty-One Balloons.


SOPHIA'S READS
Sophia has been really into reading about fashion this month.  She went to a day camp about fashion and I think that sparked her imagination.  Of course I was willing to contribute by buying her a couple of books :) These are more activity books than reading books, but they have been really occupying her time and getting her excited! 





READING TOGETHER



When we haven't had a baseball game or I've just been totally exhausted, we've been reading this.  They love it.

So these were our June reads and some of our current reads.  What are YOU reading??

June 26, 2015

2015-16 LESSON PLANNER IS HERE!


Hey there! I'm so happy to let you know that Mrs. Hutchinson's new Lesson Planner is ready to go!
for the product page! 

June 24, 2015

6 WAYS TO USE SILVER DOLPHIN FACT CARDS

If you've been coming here for long, you probably know that I'm not a big fan of textbooks or dry educational material.  When I come across products like Silver Dolphin Book's Everything You Need to Know Fact Cards, it makes me remember why I started feeling the way I do about textbooks.

This post is sponsored by Silver Dolphin books.  All opinions are my own. 


But what are Silver Dolphin: Everything You Need to Know Fact Cards, you ask?

Ok, that's easy.  They are heavy, duty fact cards all stored in a sturdy box.  Your elementary kids will love these.  The cards come in either K-1 version or grades 2-3 version. Each set contains 275 fact cards covering a multitude of subjects like space, earth, dinosaurs, birds, world wonders, geography, and the presidents, just to name a few--you know, everything you would ever need to know! What makes these even more cool is that they were developed in collaboration with experts from the Smithsonian.  You can't get much more legit than that.  The gorgeous photos and illustrations on these cards will lure your kids in and I guarantee you'll find them sitting around paging through these cards without the slightest prompting from you.

Did you know that salmon split their time between river and ocean living? They're guided by the moon, the ocean currents, and their sense of smell.  They also change color during mating season as they swim from ocean to river. 

Oh, you didn't?

You are so very welcome.

But how do you use these fun fact cards?

Well, I'll tell you.  If you set these near some common areas of your home, your kids will definitely pick them up and start peeking through them.  But if you want to be a little more purposeful with them, here's just a few ideas I came up with:

1. Trivia Game.  You, the mom, chooses a category and splits the kids into teams.  Using the cards, ask some fun trivia questions and see who knows it.  Have them take turns answering and keep score.  A little good competition never hurt anyone.



2. Research.  Are your kids working on a report on birds of prey or different biomes? Because they can definitely pull these cards out and use them for research.  I will warn you though, your kid may get sidetracked with all the good information in these cards.  Use the handy label tabs to pull out the section your child will need and have him work with those.  They'll have a page of great research notes in no time.

3. Timelines.  When I was in 5th grade, we had to memorize all the presidents of the United States.  It was tricky business, but it felt so good when we recited the full list at the end of the year.  Silver Dolphin Fact Cards include a section on all the presidents.  What a great way to create a timeline in your school area so your kids and easily get a visual of all the presidents. 

You could also use the section on US history to hang up and put into chronological order.

4. Unit Review.  If you test your children or just want to make sure they fully understand the unit you've just covered, give them the section of cards that goes with your unit and have your kids look over it, read through it, and solidify the facts. The connection of the facts with the photos and illustrations will help the facts to stick in your child's mind.  You could also give your child a section of the cards to put into chronological order.  This activity would serve as a fantastic review.

5. Memorization.  Again with the presidents, having a great visual is a great way to help your kids memorize.  Set five cards at a time in front of your child and help them to memorize.  When they've mastered that bit, add a few more.  These cards are thick and sturdy and will hold up to being used over and over again.

6. Booklets.  Sometimes during the school year, the teacher is just not feelin' it.  I mean, we've all felt the effects of a long, dreary March haven't we?  I have been known to, on occasion, give my kids assignments that will take little or no effort from me, but be really rich for my kids--pretty smart, right?? ;) So basically I will give my kids a subject, or let them pick their own, and send them on their way to research, read books, look up facts, and create a little booklet on their subject.  Usually it takes them a few hours and gives mama a little break.  They are always proud to show me what they've discovered from their self-driven assignment.  Silver Dolphin Fact Cards are great tools to help your kids create fabulous booklets. 


The folks at Silver Dolphin books are so graciously giving away 10 sets of these fabulous fact cards. The winners can choose which grade level they would like.  Sign up below for a chance to win:

 
A few other things you need to know about Silver Dolphin Books: They write a really good blog.  Check it out for some great ideas to use in your school and more chances to win their products!
 
You can also follow them on these social media outlets:
 



June 19, 2015

APPRECIATING NATURE WITH BLOSSOM BOX

Summer is in full swing now.  These last few weeks have been overly full--some good things and some not so good things--and I'm ready for a slow summer's week.  I'm thinking Tuesday should let us return to some summer normalcy.  There's so much good though--camps that makes my kids seem to grow in so many ways, sports that get my kids away from TV and outdoors where they should be, grilling yummy food outside on the deck, and getting our hands dirty planting new bushes and flower pots in our new yard.

Summer is the time to appreciate the little things happening outside like new buds on the peonies popping up or the caterpillar eating that said peony plant (grrrrrrr!!) or the snapping turtle laying eggs in the neighbor's yard (no joke!).  There's all these amazing things happening outside--all year round really--but sometimes we need a little nudging to help us stop and look and listen to it.


I was given this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.


This is where I introduce you to this amazing craft kit--Blossom Box


A few weeks ago, I was flipping through the Minneapolis parenting magazine and I saw a little article about a pair of moms in the area that had started this cool business called Blossom Box--a monthly box of nature crafts delivered to your door every month.  I knew I had to connect with these ladies--anyone who puts that much effort into sharing nature with kids must be pretty awesome. 

Opening our Blossom Box was like a breath of fresh, organized, crafty air.  Several different crafts--instructions and all the supplies--were separated into little bags.  There was also a beautiful newsletter with all kinds of information on the current month's theme--Flowers--and more ideas for projects and book suggestions.  There was also a recipe for lavender play dough, which I am itching to make.




Taking the time to sit down with your kids and do nothing but create is such well-spent time.  I loved sitting down during naptime with Sophia and just creating.  We read about flowers and talked about flowers.  Later that night we planted some more flowers outside. 

We haven't created everything from our Blossom Box yet, but we have already made a Flower Mobile, Clay Flower Magnets, planted a peat pot of wildflowers, and made a pretty Flower Print with paints we mixed up ourselves--all included in the box.   We still have a couple more projects we can do, plus more that are suggested in the newsletter, plus that lavender play dough I was talking about.

I love that this awesome box was created with local hands.  You can read more on Nikki and Bethany's blog, where they talk even more in depth about the projects from each month and new things coming up. 




I hope you love Blossom Box as much as we have.  To get you even more interested, Nikki and Bethany have offered my readers--that's you!--50% off your first Blossom Box.  Just use the code BLOOM when you check out! Yay for you!

You can also follow along with Blossom Box on their blog, Instagram, and Facebook.

June 17, 2015

FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE OUR HOMESCHOOL EASIER


Many people are gearing up for their first year of homeschooling this coming fall.  Others are trying to refine what they already do and make it an even better year.  We all have those certain things that make our homeschools run smoother--I have quite a few.  Since its not always possible to dig through each others cabinets and peek into their bookshelves in their classrooms, here's a quick look at five of my favorite things for homeschooling and how they make our school easier day-to-day.

1. A great all-in-one printer.  I use my printer A LOT!  Maybe even more than that, I use the copier on my printer.  I could not have a plain printer with no scanner or copier.  I always choose a printer with the lift-up lid type of copier too because it's just so darn easy.  I have an HP computer, so I usually just have an HP printer too.  You can find these pretty inexpensively and they are so worth every penny. 

2. The perfect lesson planner that fits your style of teaching.  I want my planner to work for me, not the other way around.  I like a lot of options in my planners too.  A few years ago, I created my own lesson planner because I just could not find anything I liked.  Luckily many of you like it too!  The new 2015-2016 school year planner will be coming out next week!

3. IKEA's easel with whiteboard, paper roll, and chalkboard.  I love this piece.  In our classrooms, we've never had a space for a huge chalkboard (although I just painted our new school room with chalkboard walls).  I have loved this easel from IKEA for years.  It's really affordable ($15!), it can be used for any different medias, and it can easily be moved around.  We've done many checklists, schedules, sample problems, and spelling words on this.

4. A really good pencil sharpener is a must.  The little manual ones work ok if you're on the run, but my kids do not like mechanical pencils and they also don't like breaking their lead a thousand times in a not-so-good pencil sharpener.  I really like this one by Xacto.  Electric sharpeners have always worked best for us.

5. A laminator!  I feel like such a teacher saying this, but seriously you need one.  Bookmarks, flash cards, things you want to use wipe-off markers on, checklists, posters, name cards--whatever! I bought mine pretty inexpensively and I am so happy I have it every time life calls for something to be laminated. 

So these are a few of my favorite teaching tools--what are yours?
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