Saturday, June 28, 2014

Reading Aloud

Yesterday was the end to another amazing year with my kids. I had two of my girls graduate this year, and two of my boys will be moving to other classrooms in the fall which leaves me with 4 incoming freshman in August (which I love). I have been thinking a lot about what worked this year and what I might just want to change. One of the things I would like to do is have a designated reading time. The majority of my kids are non-readers but every week when we are at the computer lab I will get a couple of them to sit with me on the couch and I will read books to them from our library. They really love listening to the stories. The books we have are very much for a small child and even though my kids love to hear them I would like to get some that have more substance but will still hold their attention. I came across these books the other day on Amazon. I am wondering if they would be engaging enough for my kids? I would love to know if anyone has read these book and frankly if the're any good. It seems there are a ton to choose from and it would be like getting a history lesson as well. Please send me your thoughts, and again thank you!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Face Masks

I bought these fun white face masks a few years ago from Oriental Trading Company. My original plan was to paint them for Halloween, but for some reason I find them hidden in the back of my cabinets every year around Thanksgiving time. When I stumbled upon them again a few weeks ago while packing up for ESY, I thought why not let the kids paint them this summer and end this vicious cycle. So, here they are! The kids had fun painting them and we even wore them to get our breakfast the next morning. You can find them here ($5.25 a dozen) if you're interested.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Where I Live

 A few weeks ago I picked my grand daughter up from school and she had this really cute activity with her. I have seen this and even have it pinned on Pinterest, but as soon as I saw it in person, I knew I wanted to do it with my kids this summer.  I pre-cut each of the pages but let the kids put them in order and we helped them with the stapling. We worked on this activity for 3 Thursdays (2 pages each day) and finally finished them this last week. For the first three pages we drew a picture of ourselves, one of our house (street) an one of the sign that brings you into our city along with what our city is known for (agriculture, oil etc).  I Googled coloring pages for state, country, continent, and planet for the kids to color in, cut and glue onto the colored paper.  They also wrote a brief explanation "I live in the state of California" etc. on each page. Even though they look totally grumpy in this picture they really did love making these!
I actually just noticed that he wrote "earth" instead of "planet" on the orange page. He's my boy that wants to finish as FAST as he can and because of that makes many mistakes!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dollar-Up Activity Book

 Here is a fun activity book that can be put together for the kids to practice the dollar-up method. My kids actually got pretty good with this last year. Since we work on money weekly, I always throw in a few minutes of dollar-up practice at the end. The majority of my kids really struggle with coins, and this method has proven to be very helpful for them. This activity book can be put together in about an hour. It has ten activity pages where the students will Velcro the correct dollar amount showing how much they would need to pay for each purchase.
You can find this product here

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Classroom Videos

I love using videos in the classroom. It's a nice break for me and I'm sure the kids like the change of getting to hear someone else talk for a while instead of me. Besides the "Mary Series" which I love, and spoke about HERE, I have had a hard time finding videos that are for one age appropriate and second affordable. I have seen 30 minutes videos for around $300.00! Where in a teachers budget is that kind of money supposed to come from? I recently found these videos on Amazon from Trevor Romain. His website doesn't appear to be working at the time but I did find them on amazon for cheaper than I paid.
His videos run anywhere from $2.00 + shipping up to $25.00. We watched both of these videos, bullies and taking care of your body during ESY. They are cartoons but trevor is not and interacts with the cartoon kids throughout the video. I did stop each of the videos a couple times during play to talk to the kids and ask them questions to make sure they were following along. Both of these videos really kept their attention and I think they were a great find especially considering the cost.

I purchased these Disney Videos a few years ago and they are really good for a 25 minute break. I mean you can't go wrong with Bill Nye the Science Guy! My kids got really into the fire one on Friday when we watched it. Fire is so fascinating and we got a lot of ooooooh's an aaaaaaah's from them. After the video we spent time also talking about the dangers of fire and how we should never play with it. He also has one on germs and your health that I hope to pick up next year. These videos can also be found on Amazon for around $10.00 each.
These are great and affordable video's from Attainment Company. I have had these for a couple years and for only $39.00 each they are a great addition to my library!   

Here are three new videos I have purchased over the last few months. We haven't had a chance to view them yet, but I am hoping they fit well into my curriculum. So, that's it for my video library. If anyone else has some good affordable videos they would like to share I would love to hear about them too!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ice Cream in a Baggie

It's that time of year again when we get to make ice cream in a baggie!! We did it assembly line style this year, and they added each ingredient as they walked past it on the table. I did help a couple with the vanilla because they couldn't seem to hold the measuring spoon level, but other than that they did it ALL BY THEMSELVES! I didn't even have to help out with any of the shaking this year! It took a few minutes for a couple of my boys to be talked into trying it. We finally just left them alone and after minutes of funny faces and continuously smelling their bags, they gave it a try and were hooked!

*TIP - Place baggie inside a plastic cup while measuring (and eating). This will keep the ingredients from spilling and give the kids two hands to do their measuring with!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Making Plaster Molds

2 years ago I bought a 100 lb bag of white molding plaster from a local home improvement shop for around 20 bucks.  Since then we have made numerous items with it. Beautiful butterflies, Easter bunnies, Christmas ornaments and these cute little ice cream magnets to name a few. Even though when I make them, I always make plenty for other classes to enjoy, we have barely made a dent in the bag of plaster! I purchased a few of my molds online from but you can also find them around town at places like Michaels or Hobby Lobby (candy molds work great too). They are very economical and easy to make.  Just add water, stir, and pour into molds. They are ready to be unmolded within about 15 minutes, longer if it has narrow parts. After we paint them and let them dry we brush a coat of Mod Podge on them to give them a shiny coat. This was a Mod Podge with sparkles in it. This has been a great investment for my classroom and I see many more years of fun activities to come! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Comb Binding A Book

I finally  have all the tools I need to bind my own books for my kids! I love making these books and coming up with fun educational activities for them to do. I know it's not rocket science but here's how it works :-) 
After printing each page in your book. Laminate and trim them to about 1/8 inch. I bought this laminator at Costco a few years ago for about 20 some bucks and it has worked like a charm for me.

 Once all your pages have been cut, its time to put the book together. I purchased this binding machine last week from for 45.00.  It's not the best of quality but for what I will be using it for it's fine. You simply place each sheet inside the slot and pull the handle down to make the cuts.
 Here is how each sheet will look when cut. 
 Once each sheet has been punched it's time to put the binding on the book. These plastic bindings are 5/8" and work well for a 11 page book (card stock + laminated), tho smaller ones would work fine too. Slide the plastic piece onto the metal combs that are placed along the bottom of the machine. 
Pull down the lever on the side of the machine and the plastic bindings will open. Simply slip the open comb into the holes you punched on the pages. Pull the lever up to close the comb. Your book is now complete!
 This is a fun matching book I put together where the students have to find the ingredients from the store shelves for the recipe on each page. There are 9 recipe cards, each recipe with 4 ingredients, and 36 food grocery items that will be velcroed onto the pages. 
There are two grocery store shelf pages.  One has the food items on it and one doesn't which will allow the students to put the food back wherever they want. I prefer to use the one with the items and I use see-through velco. This way it is as much of a lesson putting the items back on the shelves as it was removing them. Here is a copy of this particular book if you're interested.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sewing Activity

I was looking through my boxes today and realized that I hadn't shared this one yet. I have had this box for a little over a month(can't remember whose blog I saw it on sorry, give a shout out if it was you please) and so far it's a pretty good one for my kids. I bought needles with large eyes to make it easier for them (and myself). Some have needed help with threading the needle, but I have been pleasantly surprised at some who have been able to do it for themselves. Once I get them started I tell them that they must go in and out of each hole 2 times (for the 4 hole button) and 4 x for the two hole.  After the button is sewed on, I've been sitting down and helping them tie the knot on the underside. Another one of those boxes that requires a great deal of concentration which I love! Part of my plan this summer is to have each of my kids complete each activity box one time. Inside their morning folders is a check off sheet listing each of the 39 activities. As they finish a box they are to have it initialed and dated by a staff member that it has been completed. That is only two boxes a day which is doable for most of my kids to fit in. Some boxes can easily be done in 10 minutes while others like filling the salt and pepper shakers take far longer. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

!!!!Spirit Club!!!!!

Where we were once a program spread out over 5 sites throughout our large city, this year we will all come together at one site! We will now be what I consider a "school" and I'm super excited about it! Since my school is not attached to a high school we do miss out on a lot of fun school spirit building activities like sporting events, assemblies, and fun crazy days that the kids enjoy. This coming year each teacher in my program has been asked to put together and help on a committee of some sort. Our program is growing so fast that it is more than our office staff can handle on their own anymore. Since I didn't want to be put, asked, or arm twisted on to a committee not of my choosing, I decided to start my own. So, here's to the newly formed SPIRIT CLUB COMMITTEE! I would like to get another teacher and hopefully a few aides involved as well. My plan so far is for us, along with any students who want to join our club, to meet every two weeks to talk about and plan the following activities.
  • Dances, Speakers and Events
  • Last Friday of the month student award assemblies
  • Spirit Days (crazy hat, sports day, pajama day etc...)
  • Fundraisers 
  • Canned Food Drive
  • School T-Shirt Days
I have been searching the internet for ideas and boy are there some great ones out there! Are there any really fun things your school does that you could share? I would LOVE and appreciate anything you have!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My ESY Schedule!

Well the school year is over and we have slid right into ESY! Here is the schedule I have set up for my kids. The boxes in yellow indicate times that two of my colleagues and I will be having all (28) kids together for activities. We have so much fun stuff going on I can hardly stand it!  Today we did a fun cut and paste food activity, worked on how to send letters through the mail (we mailed the worksheets home for fun) and did a News2You activity with the other classes! I Hope everyone else who's lucky enough to get to work summer school is having a great time too!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Danger Signs Wheel

ESY starts tomorrow at my school.  Even though I teach the same subjects during ESY that I do during the regular school year, I try to make it a little more fun for the kids (and myself, who am I kidding). Here is a fun danger sign activity we are going to start the day off with tomorrow.  Since the majority of my kids are non-readers it's important to familiarize them with signs they may see that tell them there is a risk of danger. For better quality I suggest you print the pages onto card stock.  After cutting out the three circles, students can color the cover page and put the wheel together using a metal brad. If you interested in a copy, you can find it over in my TPT store!