where to go for free homework help: Homework Help Desk

homework help | homework help desk | teachmama.com

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homework help | homework help desk | teachmama.com

Now more than ever, I feel like I need a lifeline when it comes to helping my kids with their homework.

Honestly, the concepts are getting difficult.  Things have changed.

Strategies are new, and problems seem crazy to me.

I need help.

I need to phone a friend.

I need answers, and often, I need them quickly.

That’s where Homework Help Desk comes in.

Or at least it came in handy this week, when we were working on Maddy’s summer math packet.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Where to Go For Free Homework Help–Homework Help Desk: 

Granted, we’ve used this free platform only a handful of times, but both times, it proved to be exactly what we needed.

homework help | homework help desk | teachmama.com

homework help | homework help desk | teachmama.com

Maddy used it to finish up some of her Summer Math packet for middle school–one problem in particular was giving her a hard time.

So instead of me racking my brain to figure out square centimeters, I had Maddy type her question into Homework Help Desk.

What happened next was pretty awesome. 

I’ll give you a hint: Maddy found her answer and then some.

Take a look at her transcript:

homework help | homework help desk | teachmama.com

 

homework help | homework help desk | teachmama.com

I love how Maddy received her answer with a question, prompting Maddy to share how much she knew about the topic along with her grade level.

That way, the Homework Help Desk could more accurately determine what kind of answer to provide.

homework help desk | teachmama.com

I love that the Homework Help Desk even handled Maddy’s question about what to wear on the first day of middle school seriously, too.

Though it may not seem like a huge deal, the first day outfit is a big deal for many.

homework help desk | teachmama.com

Even the pinterest board that the Homework Help Desk shared with Maddy was great for her–she spent a few extra minutes looking at it after her problem was completed.

I love, too, that the Homework Help Desk provided a link for extra help on the same type of problem that Maddy was working on.

Definitely worth checking out, especially as children’s workload increases and the difficulty of work increases.

When we can no longer support our kids the way we once did, it’s great to have a place to go so that we can continue to help our kids.

Check out the Homework Help Desk: #BackToSchool #HomeworkHelp #ParentingTips #SchoolTools

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Get Schooled. The opinions and text are all mine.

what to consider when choosing a school for your child: parent checklist

find the best school for your kids | teachmama.com

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find the best school for your kids | teachmama.com

 

Now that my kids are 11, 10, and 8 years old (gasp!), I feel like there’s a lot I wish I would have known when it came to choosing schools for my children.

Believe me, we’re not even close to the finish line, and I’m not wishing time away. But looking back, there was a whole lot I didn’t know school shopping before my own kids hit Kindergarten.

There’s really a lot to consider.

So I’ve created a quick and easy parent check sheet to make things (hopefully!) easier for folks down the road.

Here’s the skinny. . .

What to Consider When Choosing a School for Your Child–Parent Checklist:

I’ll admit it. My husband slept out in his car overnight in order to get Maddy on the list for her preschool at 2 1/2 years old.

And though we loved the school, what we didn’t know was how class enrollment would chosen the next year. And what happened was that Maddy’s name was put in a lottery, and her name was picked for the afternoon class.

find the best school for your kids | teachmama.com

With a 1 year old and another baby on the way, an afternoon start would not work for our family.

So we had to pick up and move schools. Had I known this is how enrollment for the 3’s classes was handled, would I have started there? I’m not even sure.

Here are some questions I’d suggest you look into finding answers to before your littles start school:

Location: 

  • How far is the school?
  • How long is the commute?
  • How easy is parking?
  • Does the school feel welcoming?
  • Are classrooms clean, airy, and open?

Frequency: 

  • How often will class meet?
  • How long is the class day?
  • Are there before care or aftercare options?
  • Are there ‘lunch bunch’ options?

find the best school for your kids | teachmama.com

find the best school for your kids | teachmama.com

Teachers:

  • Are the teachers state-certified educators?
  • How often do the teachers have professional development opportunities?
  • What is the teacher-student ratio?
  • Are parent volunteers permitted in the classroom?
  • What safety precautions are taken at the school?  Are all teachers and volunteers fingerprinted and given background checks?
  • Who is the director, and what is his/ her background?

Curriculum:

  • How are classes organized?  What is the daily schedule?
  • What is the school’s educational philosophy?
  • How do I feel about school’s educational philosophy?
  • Are lessons age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate?
  • Does the school take field trips?

find the best school for your kids | teachmama.com

Other:

  • Are doors locked after drop-off? What is the sign-in/ sign-out procedure?
  • How is tuition processed each month?
  • Is there a discount for paying in full, upfront?
  • What is the sibling discount?
  • What are my fundraising obligations?
  • How are snacks handled–by the school or by parents?
  • What is the school’s allergy policy?
  • How does the school handle birthdays? Holidays?
  • What is the school’s potty training policy?
  • How does the school handle hitting/ biting/ bullies?

 

Would it be easier to have these questions on a quick and easy printable?

find the best school for your kids | teachmama.com

school search checklist _ teachmama.com

 

You can download it here: school search checklist _ teachmama.com

 

Back to school time is an exciting for so many families. Making sure that you choose the right school for your child is key so that your child–and you!–walk into the new year feeling ready and revived.

 

Need a good place to start? Look for a Childtime in your area, and schedule a visit.

Childtime. Opening Minds. Unleashing Imaginations.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Learning Care Group. The opinions and text are all mine.

school supply shopping: our NEW way to teach kids to be smart consumers

school supply shopping teachmama.com

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

 

Every year, we try to somehow involve our kids in back-to-school shopping.

When Maddy, Owen, and Cora were emerging readers, I created easy-to-read lists that we’d take on our shopping trips.

The lists combined words and pictures so that they could more easily find what they needed.

As the kids got older, we worked together to find the best places to shop, using the coupons and sales circulars to figure out the best deals.

This year, we tried something new.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

I knew that the kids needed more of a reason to plan and shop, and I knew that money is always a push for them.

And, admittedly, we’ve slacked on our Gem Jars this summer.

So what we did forced our kids into becoming smart and savvy shoppers, and it also encouraged more ‘shopping at home’.

All kids agreed that they want to do our school supply shopping this way every year. So I’ll count that as a win in my book.

Here’s the skinny. . .

School Supply Shopping: Our NEW Way to Teach Kids to be Smart Consumers:

This year, I gave Maddy, Owen, and Cora a $40 budget.

And I said,

Okay, here’s the thing: I know we’ve been lax with Gem Jars this year, and I know we haven’t done anything with allowance.

Each of you has done a pretty decent job with chores, and we appreciate it.

So for school supply shopping this year, each of you has $40. And you have access to everything in our school supply drawer and everything in our house. And you have a ton of coupons and sales circulars to pick from.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

Use whatever you want—and use the lists I’ve printed out from the school that tell you what you need.

And figure out the best way to use your money.

Remember that cheap is not always the best and that sometimes you pay a little more for quality.

And whatever money you have left after your shopping trip, you can keep.

Owen went nuts crazy. This is his thing—playing with numbers, looking at sales, and finding the best possible price.

He needs money for the snack bar at the pool, you know, and he knows that Mom and Dad don’t provide it.

So the kids used the planning sheet I created last year, and they got to work.

It was difficult for Cora—that I must say—and she gave up quickly.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

I sat with her a bit and worked through some of the glitches, but she decided she was finished almost before she started.

Maddy and Owen worked pretty hard on theirs, Maddy roughly and Owen to the penny.

What was most awesome was that the kids shopped carefully in our house.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

All these supplies? Yep. Found ’em in our house.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com

We had a few extra 3-ring binders from previous years along with a random mix of other supplies.  They pieced them together where they could, and then they were ready to  hit the stores.

We decided our first stop would be Target, so we took off late morning, each kid with his or her own shopping bag, list, and coupons.

school supply shopping  teachmama.com 2

school supply shopping teachmama.com 2

I was surprised that when we got to the store, the kids went straight for the supplies and knew exactly what they were looking for.

For the most part, they stuck to their lists, though they did make some changes.

And even though Owen wanted to go to Office Depot for ten cent folders, I explained that his decision to buy plastic ones for $.47 was a wise one because they’d last much longer.

So they gathered.

And shopped.

And checked things off of their lists.

 

And they used coupons.school supply shopping  teachmama.com 2

school supply shopping  teachmama.com 2

And they spent money.

And they saved money.

Only Cora had to break her second $20 bill, and they each pocketed quite a bit of money.

Then we headed to the Target Café for some lunch. And they each wanted a slushee, so they each bought one with their extra dinero. Yay!

Maddy and Cora were really into it in the end, too; in fact, they came home and had a design contest –who could arrange their school supplies in the most beautiful way.  Not sure who won, though, because I think I was pretty much beat from all of our shopping. . .

It was a great little real-life lesson and a great day!

Want to grab the printable we used and try this yourself?

Click on the image below:

back-to-school-shopping-get-kids-involved-teachmama.com_-671x1024

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Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

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Follow us on Instagram: @teachmama1  / #tabletopsurprises

teachmama on instagram

 

Want a little more math fun?

Check out:

Or follow our rockin math pinterest board:

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board math on Pinterest.

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy.

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

I can’t even believe it, friends, but (gulp!) school is around the corner.

And before we know it, our schedules will be kicked into high gear. Afternoons and evenings will be filled with homework, activities, projects, meetings, and more, and our lazy days of summer will be a quickly fading memory.

But guess what?

There are a ton of apps out there that can really simplify your life and make your kids’ screen time more productive. Really.

And to get an early jump on the back to school rush, I’ll be chatting about these apps and more on twitter this week. And I want you to join me!

On Thursday July 23 at 8pm ET, join the #BTSTech chat and learn some great tips for how technology can simplify your life as your kids head back to school.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Smart Apps for Busy Families–Get Ready for Back to School! #BTSTech chat

We’ll be giving away some great prizes, too, this week, but first, RSVP below.  Then you’ll be entered to win an Early Bird prize. Woot!

And even more prizes will be awarded during the Twitter event itself.  I am so very excited, my friends.

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

Who: 

What:

We’ll be chatting about how technology can simplify parents’ lives in the back to school season. We’ll also be chatting about:

  • how technology affects parenting;
  • how to monitor and keep your kids safe online;
  • the best apps to use for kids and parents, and much more!

Why:

Because everyone wants life a bit more simple and everyone could use a few new tricks in their back pockets!

Where: 

Twitter! (http://twitter.com) #BTSTech

When:  

Thursday, July 23 at 8 pm Eastern / 7 pm Central / 5 pm Pacific

How:

  1. Before the event, rsvp below
  2. On 7.23.15, log onto twitter
  3. Follow the hashtag #BTSTech
  4. Tweet, re-tweet (RT), and tweet some more!
  5. Optional: Share YOUR fave photos, tips, tricks, and ideas for how technology can make our lives easier when it comes to back to school!

Prizes:

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

BEFORE the Twitter Party: 

  • 1 Early Bird Prize Winner who RSVPs and tweets about #BTSTech will win a free school uniform for his/her child (1 top & 1 bottom) AND a $50 Visa Gift Card for back to school supplies.

DURING the Twitter Party: 

  • 5 Winners each will win a free school uniform for his/her child (1 top & 1 bottom).
  • 1 Grand Prize winner will win a year’s worth of school uniforms AND a $100 Visa Gift Card for back to school supplies.

AFTER the Twitter Party: 

  • Stay tuned for an additional giveaway post for another giveaway prize of a year’s worth of school uniforms.

 smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

Helpful hints for twitter events: 

  • use tweetchat (http://tweetchat.com/room/BTSTech) to make it easier for you
  • visit the panelists’ sites and bring questions, comments or concerns to the event
  • visit our Twitter event how-to for answers to your Twitter event questions.
  • make sure you are following the hosts so you don’t miss a beat!

We look forward to chatting with you on Thursday, July 23th, and we are psyched to connect with you!

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

smart apps for busy families: get ready for back to school! #BTSTech chat

Do your kids wear school uniforms?

Fortunately, the trend of school uniforms is growing to many schools across the nation. And our sponsor FrenchToast.com has been providing quality official school wear to schools for the past 15 years.

Their uniforms range in size from children’s size 4 to Young Men’s and Juniors including special husky, slim and plus sizes.

French Toast uses only high quality fabrics, and their uniforms are distributed through well-known stores throughout the country as well as available online.

Find them online at:

RSVP and Tweet Now

If you will be joining the party, RSVP below and Tweet now with #BTSTech and you’ll be entered to win a free school uniform for your child (1 top & 1 bottom).

[Tweet “I’ll be at #BTSTech Smart Apps for Busy Families Twitter Party w @FrenchToastcom July 23, 8pm ET”]

We’ll also send you an email reminder the day of the party.

Add your Twitter Handle below:
Example Link Text: @5minutesformom
Example URL: https://twitter.com/5minutesformom



 


fyi: I’m being compensated for my role as a Twitter Party panelist by French Toast, but as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

teacher gifts for the last-minute parent

teacher gift - teachmama.com

 

teacher gift - teachmama.com 2

This week, my kids are out of school, but before they busted out of those doors, we wanted to give their teachers a tiny token of our appreciation for their hard work and dedication.

But we didn’t have a whole lot of time.

We were away last weekend. We were preparing for Maddy’s 5th grade recognition this week. We are in the middle of a basement renovation.  We’re finishing up spring activities and moving into summertime swim and dive.

It’s a lot.

So we had to think of something cute, clever, and quick.

Inspired by our Teacher Appreciation gifts last year, we made some pretty cool pencil holders for teachers this year, and they turned out really awesome.

In fact, we’re all quite proud of our work and think these gifts are really for anyone to make–last-minute or not.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Teacher Gifts for the Last-Minute Parent:

I always want to do something nice for our kids’ teachers because we know how difficult their job really is. But I always want their gift to be practical and useful. Bottom line.

teacher gifts for the last-minute parent

teacher gifts for the last-minute parent

 

This teacher gift for the last-minute parent is both practical and useful; it’s a lazy susan pencil holder with fun, funky words on it.  

Simple. And so cute.

teacher gifts for the last-minute parent

For this teacher gift, you’ll need:

Here’s how to make it:

1. Choose the word(s) you want displayed on the pencil holder.

We chose things like school, teach, learn, listen, math, read. I wrote the ideas down on paper and then told Maddy, Owen, and Cora to choose the words they wanted on their teachers’ gift.

teacher gifts for the last-minute parent

teacher gifts for the last-minute parent

 

2. Glue the words onto the gift. Easy!

We used our hot glue gun, and though it wasn’t perfect, it did the job.

teacher gifts for the last-minute parent

teacher gifts for the last-minute parent

 

Maddy and Owen each wrote a thank you note to their teacher, a la the freebie teacher appreciation printables I created for HP’s myprintly.com blog, but Cora’s was a bit different.

I was the room parent for Cora’s class, so we did things a little differently for her teacher.

A few weeks ago, I asked each parent to have his or her child write a quick thank you note to the teacher. Once I had them all, I rolled each note separately, then I tied a yellow or white ribbon around it.

We placed each note one of the compartments and voila!

teacher gift - teachmama.com

We also really upped the fun factor for Cora’s teacher.

Here’s what we did–we: 

  • added a pretty nice gift card to a great local store;
  • included some cool framed teacher appreciation quotes (you can totally grab these, too!);
  • gave her a copy of Jessica Turner’s Fringe Hours book and notepads;
  • wrapped it all in a nice gift bag.

teacher gifts for the last-minute parent

teacher gift | teachmama.com

And that’s it–a gift for teachers that the kids helped create and that took not a whole lot of time.

It’s a win!

teacher gifts for the last-minute parent
teacher gifts for the last-minute parent

teacher gifts | teachmama.com

teacher gifts | teachmama.com

teacher gifts | teachmama.com

What other ideas do you have for last-minute teacher gifts?

We’d love to hear them!

 

Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board school & teacher appreciation on Pinterest.

teachmama
 

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

help kids stay in touch with friends when school’s out: autograph sheet

help kids stay in touch with friends when school's out: autograph sheet teachmama.com

I can’t even believe it, but school’s almost out for my kids.

Though I’m totally psyched to begin our tabletop surprises this year, I’m also always a little sad when the school year ends.

It means my kids are getting older and that time continues to move . . . quickly.

help kids stay in touch with friends when school's out: autograph sheet teachmama.com

This year, especially I feel like I’m having a difficult time as Maddy moves into the wilds of middle school leaving Owen and Cora behind in elementary school. It has been a true joy for me to have all three kids in one school for the last three years.

And I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the fact that I began this blog even before Maddy started Kindergarten. Insanity.

But also awesome, I know. I have so much to be thankful for–that is a fact.

So I’ll spare you the waterworks–that will surely come on Friday at her Fifth Grade Recognition Ceremony (sob!)–and instead I’ll share something that I created for all three of my little loves so that they can stay in touch with their buddies through the long summer months.

It’s pretty cool. And it’s something they’ll just shove in their binder for the last few days, pull out before and after school and maybe at lunchtime.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Help Kids Stay in Touch With Friends When School’s Out–Autograph Sheet: 

This is a super-easy and fun sheet, and the emphasis here is that kids will write their phone number or address so that they can communicate over the summer.

help kids stay in touch with friends when school's out: autograph sheet teachmama.com

help kids stay in touch with friends when school's out: autograph sheet teachmama.com

If kids are old enough and their parents permit it, then hopefully kids can write down their email address or instagram name.

Any way they want to stay in touch, they share.

help kids stay in touch with friends when school's out: autograph sheet

Download the printable and help kids stay in touch with friends when school’s out: help kids stay in touch with friends when school’s out: autograph sheet

If you choose to share this printable–and we hope you do!–please link to this page instead of the attachment page. Thank you!

It’s simple and easy.

And when I showed the kids today, they were pretty happy. And I’ll be pretty happy mid-summer when they ask for a playdate with a pal and I tell them to reach out and plan it themselves!

 

How do you keep kids connected with their pals over the summer? It’s not easy–so I’m open for ideas and suggestions!

Need a few ideas for summertime fun? Join us!

summer fun for kids | teachmama.com

 

 

Are your kids still in school?

Do you want them to do a little ‘thank you’ writing to their teachers? Definitely check out this post over on Scholastic Parents:

end of year thank you  teachmama  pinterest  scholastic

preparing kids for Kindergarten: the summer before school starts — Home Study

kindergarten prep summer before teachmama.com

Friends!

Do you have a little one heading off to the wilds of Kindergarten this year? 

Then this Home Study is for YOU.

 

kindergarten prep  summer before  teachmama.com

 

This is just one of the many teach mama Home Studies that are short, information-packed, interactive courses designed to change your life.

Perhaps you think ‘changing your life’ is a little lofty–but it’s true.  It really can change your life–and your child’s. 

In the last 10 years, I have spoken at dozens of local and national events, sharing information about teaching, learning, and community building.  One workshop I’ve done dozens of times is about how parents can prepare their children for Kindergarten. 

Time and time again, the feedback is the same: parents have said to me that what they learned in my workshop changed the way they spent time with their children. 

So exciting, right? I know.

I love it, and because it’s something I totally love doing, I’m opening the Home Study up to a larger group for a early summer workshop.  It’ll be awesome. And I know everyone will learn a ton.

And? We’re offering the whole workshop for $20 off through May. Check it out and share this page with your friends.

They’ll thank you for it!

home study kinder prep SUMMER

Check it out to learn more, but know that spots are filling quickly: teach mama Home Study: Kindergarten Prep SUMMER

 

kindergarten prep home study  teachmama.com 300

teachmama long logo home study

 

preparing for kindergarten summer before

parent teacher connect: parents and teachers working TOGETHER is the key to children’s success in school

parent teacher connect  teachmama.com

parent teacher connect  teachmama.com

 

We’ve got something cool brewing, my friends, and we want you to come along for the ride!

Join us over at teachmama.com: parent teacher connect— a platform where parents and teachers can ask questions, get answers, support each other, and learn how to best reach all of our children.  

Parents and teachers working TOGETHER is the key to children’s success in school. Parent Teacher Connect is a spot for parents and teachers to CONNECT. 

Everyone is welcome here–parents, teachers, administrators, classroom volunteers, you name it.

Here we can have a working, continual dialogue between parents AND teachers. I am SO excited to bring to life a platform where parents and teachers can ask questions, get answers, support each other, and learn how to best reach all of our children.

Teachers:

  • What do you wish parents knew about their children’s success in school?
  • What resources do you have that really help to reach students?
  • How best do you communicate with parents?
  • What works in your classroom?
    teachmama parent teacher connect header 3

 

Parents:

  • What do you wish teachers knew about how your child can meet with success in school?
  • What resources do you have that really help support your child?
  • How best do you communicate with teachers?
  • How do you manage homework?

We’re here for ANY and ALL questions you have, but our goal is to cover the following topics each day:

Math Monday: math will be our focus here

Techy Tuesday: tips, tricks, ideas for integrating technology at home and in the classroom

Wildcard Wednesday: anything goes!

Read to Me Thursday: books, books, books!

Foundation Friday: help for building foundations for learning at home and in the classroom

STEM Saturday: science, technology, engineering, and math

Social Sunday: share links, resources, posts, anything that you want others to read or see

Join us: teachmama.com: parent teacher connect.

Tell me, friends–what topics do you want to see covered? How can we make this group work for you?

We really want to know!

common core 101: everything parents need to know to prep their kids and to stay sane

common core 101 teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

common core 101  teachmama.com

Having kids in elementary school is overwhelming.

I mean really overwhelming.

Even with the best organizational strategies in place–for homework, papers, and family time–it’s hard to remember it all.

Add one or two extra kids in the mix, and that means that you can multiply the amount of fliers, homework, projects, permission slips, forms, and extra-curricular activities exponentially.

So when the Common Core State Standards arrived hand in hand with PARCC assessments and a whole lot of other changes, I can only assume that the large majority of the parents out there did what I chose to do: skim papers, follow along a little, and hold on for the ride.

That was fine for the moment, but now that we all have had a bit more time to breathe, it’s time to get out of the fog.

We, as parents, need to know what the Common Core State Standards mean, why they matter, and how we can help our kids meet with success on these assessments.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Common Core 101–Everything Parents Need to Know to Prepare Their Kids and to Stay Sane:

common core 101  teachmama.com link
If you’d rather skip my quick and dirty info and find out everything–and I mean everything!–you need to head over to BeALearningHero.org stat.

But here’s the super short version:

What are the Common Core State Standards?

Common Core State Standards set clear, consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in math and English language arts.

Often you’ll see it written as CCSS–Common Core State Standards.

common core 101  teachmama.com link

What is PARCC and Smarter Balanced?

Get ready for this. Lots of letters.

Two groups – the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) – worked closely with educators to develop new, computer-based assessments aligned to the Common Core.

Many states have chosen to administer either PARCC or Smarter Balanced assessments in the 2014-15 school year, and others are using assessments specific to their state.

 

When will my child take these tests? 

The new assessments will replace existing end-of-year state assessments in math and English language arts.

And? They will provide a more accurate picture of what your child really knows instead of those old tests where kids were asked to pick the right answer from a multiple-choice question.

Why do I, as a parent, need to know this? 

You guys. C’mon.

Parental support is critical to a child’s school success.  You need to know this so that you can walk alongside your child for this journey. You got this! Really.

common core 101  teachmama.com link
 

Who or what is Be A Learning Hero and why is Amy all over it today?

Ha. I love you guys. Really, I do.

Be A Learning Hero is a website for parents. It’s designed to provide straight answers and helpful resources on the Common Core State Standards.  And it provides information on Common Core-aligned assessments like PARCC and Smarter Balanced. Everything on Be A Learning Hero help parents understand the new standards and assessments and support their children’s education at home.

And you know that I’m all about parents supporting their children’s education at home. Right? Right.

Who is behind Be A Learning Hero and how is it funded? 

I wanted to know the same thing. For real.

Be A Learning Hero is a group of parents, educators, community leaders and members of the media who are dedicated to providing parents with the information and resources they need to support their children’s learning. The partner organizations supporting Be A Learning Hero include: Common Sense Media; Council of Great City Schools; Great Schools; National PTA; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; and National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).

Be A Learning Hero is a project of the New Venture Fund and is funded by a group of philanthropies who are investing in education, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schusterman Foundation. The project also receives in-kind donations and support from other organizations working on a range of education issues, including: The Collaborative for Student Success; The College Board; The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO); Nickelodeon; Scholastic; The Teaching Channel; and The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

common core 101 for parents teachmama.com.png

Now, take a minute–or two–and visit BeALearningHero.org where things are explained much more clearly: 

BeALearningHero.org website |  BeALearningHero.org facebook  |  BeALearningHero.org pinterest  |  follow the hashtag #LearningHero

 

Friends. . . tell me:

  • What questions do you have?
  • What experiences have you had?
  • What resources (videos, articles, etc.) have you seen that helped you better understand your state’s new test?

I’d love to know!

 

fyi: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Be a Learning Hero. As always, the opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Be a Learning Hero. The opinions and text are all mine.

valentine’s day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

Let’s face it: classroom parties are difficult to throw.

Scratch that.  Class parties easy to throw but difficult to throw well.

And what I’ve found over time–and by being a classroom parent for five years–is that certain things work and certain things don’t.

Having three kids in elementary school has helped me tremendously to be a better planner, organizer, and facilitator of THE class party.

So this Valentine’s Day, I’m mixing things up a bit.

We’ve got some really cool activities to get kids moving and creating, and I’m confident it will be awesome.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Valentine’s Day Class Party Ideas–Cool Activities to Get Kids Moving and Creating: 

Definitely check out Valentine’s Day Class Parties, 2.0 so you can grab a copy of the parent letter.  You need that because you need help and support of other parents if you want to make this party rock!

After connecting with the classroom teacher about times, activities, and details, I came up with the following plan for this year’s party:

Class Party Plan: Every party needs a plan.

valentine's day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

You want the parents to know what’s going on, and you want the teacher to know what’s going on.

And it’s never perfect; sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes you’re behind, but you need a guide. You need a game plan.

This year’s Class Party Plan is here to download if you’d like to use it: valentine party plan 2015

(And as with all of the printables on this site, if you do choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

3 15-minute stations:

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com bags

You always need a quick and easy way to divide the class into smaller groups. I like using heart foamies or stickers that the kids put right on their shirts or hands. Use any of the stickers mentioned here–the
Melissa and Doug Sweets & Treats Stickers Pad
have so many you can try.  Maybe have a cherry group, a candy group, and a gum ball group. Or a flower candy, kiss candy, and gumdrop candy group.

Just remember to cut out the stickers before the party, put them in a hat or small bag and have the students pick one at the beginning of the party. Voila! Your groups are created!

 

1. Decorate Valentine Mail Bags: 

valentine's day class party ideas: cool activities to get kids moving and creating

This is the first time that we’ve ever added this into the party mix, so it was really fun for me to hunt down something that would work for our class.

The key here is to be quick, but fun and engaging.

I love what we came up with, and you can find all of the details here: Valentine Mail Bags.

 

2. Art Station: 

I wanted activities that would be cool for the kids but that they could take home, stress free immediately after the party. So that eliminates any gluey projects.

Thankfully, my friends at Melissa & Doug have a few fabulous options for us.

  • Sand Art

valentine's day class party ideas: sand art | teachmama.com

Really. Sand Art at a class party is doable. It’s quick. It’s way cool. And you can make it relatively mess-free.

The Melissa and Doug Sand Art Bottles Craft Kit come three to a pack, but they’re affordable. It makes so much more sense to use your class donations for something like this rather than those teeny, junky prizes kids will throw away when they get home.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

So to do the Sand Art, you’ll definitely need to save your take-out containers–the lids will work perfectly as little bases for the plastic containers.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

Bring a roll of duct tape and make a big tape roll so that the container stays still on the plastic lid. That way, when kids are pouring sand in, they won’t wiggle and wobble.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com

——————————————

  • Scratch Art

We’ve used Scratch Art before for both our Valentine parties and Valentine cards. Kids really like them.

We will use Scratch Art Stickers, Scratch Art Keychains, and Scratch Art Fashion this year. I think kids will dig the choices.

valentine's day class party ideas scratch art  teachmama.comScratch Art Stickers come two sheets per pack, so I plan to tear them in half and then in half again for four sheets per pack. We used
Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Animal Friends Stickers
.

Scratch Art Keychains come six per party pack, and I had several packs left over from a birthday party a while back, so I thought I’d add them to the Scratch Art table.  Love these:  Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Party Pack – Key Chains.

Scratch Art Fashion (Melissa and Doug Scratch Art® Party Pack – Fashion) come twelve per pack, and we used these way back when Maddy turned 9 (her Golden Birthday!), so I added a few packs of these to the mix.

I am not forcing all kids to do all art here; rather, I figured that since the projects are super quick, that they could do two in the 15 minute rotation. Or if they finish quickly and want to do three, that’s fine, too. Or if they’re meticulous and only finish Sand Art, great. That’s their take-away.

——————————————

3. Action Games:

Kids need to move. Big time. Great parties have a mix of movement and craft, so here’s our ‘get up and move’ portion.  I think since we have 15 minutes for this, we’ll walk through each activity together, one by one.

Best bet for these? Go out in the hallway so you have the most room.

  • Frisbee Race

valentine's day class party ideas frisbee  teachmama.com

Be the team to have the most hearts on the Flying Disk by the end of the game!  The little Melissa and Doug Tootle Turtle Flying Disk are adorable and perfect for this game, and all you need are a bunch of small  tissue paper and construction paper hearts on top.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

1. Divide the small group in half.  Put students in two lines at one end of the hallway.

2. Tape two hearts on the floor at the opposite end of the hall, one for each team.

3. Give the first person one flying disc with about 20 hearts on top of it.

4. That person moves as quickly to the end of the hallway, touches the heart on the floor, and walks back to his or her team.  Depending on the age of the kids, make this one-handed or two-handed.

5. As carefully as possible, the student hands the disc to the next person, and the next person does the same thing.

6. The winning team has the most hearts at the end of the race!

——————————————-

  • Love Bugs Cleanup

valentine's day class party ideas: love bugs | teachmama.com

Be the team to move the most love bugs from the big pile to the small container!  All you need are shovels (I like the
Melissa and Doug Clicker Crab Shovel
), small plastic container (we used takeout containers) and a bunch of plastic bugs. We used
Melissa and Doug Bag of Bugs
.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

1. Students are divided into two teams, just like before.

2. Dump all of the love bugs in a pile at the other end of the hallway.

3. The first person in each line takes the plastic shovel, runs to the love bug pile, and tries to scoop up as many love bugs as possible.

4. He or she then transfers those bugs to the small plastic container at the opposite end of the hallway.

5. The team that transfers the most love bugs at the end wins!

 ———————————————–

  • Heart Target

This is super-simple and the only thing that makes it Valentines-y is the fact that there are hearts around the cute little target. Whatever.  It’s hand-eye coordination. It’s numbers. It’s sneaky math, friends! It’s a win.

For this game, you need a target. We used the Melissa and Doug Tootle Turtle Target Game.

1. Two teams stand about 5 feet away from the target.

2. At the same time (we need to up the fun factor here, folks), players toss a beanbag at the target.  They get two beanbags to throw.

3. The parent facilitator writes down the score on the score sheet: heart target score sheet

4. The team with the highest score at the end wins!

valentines class party ideas | teachmamacom

heart target score sheet

Make it fun by having the score posted on the wall and encourage the kids to keep score as you go.

Please note: Class parties should be fun, easy, and low-stress for all kids. If you have sensitive kids in the class or think that keeping score may be stressful, don’t do it! Maybe instead give one point for every beanbag that hits the target.

Keep it light!

 ——————————————

Valentine Delivery:

Everyone’s favorite part of the party, right? Move kids back to their seats.

Snack and Valentine Delivery will happen simultaneously, because the kids can’t possibly all deliver their Valentines and the same exact moment.

valentines day class party 2015 | teachmama.com

So have kids sit down, and have parents pass out the plates of food.

Then call each group up at a time to get their Valentines and deliver them to their classmates.  While one group is delivering, two groups are eating.

Try to keep it level.

Snack

Our school only allows store-bought treats at this point because they’re trying to keep all allergies under control. I get it. It makes it so much easier and so much safer for those families for whom allergies are an every day fear.

For Valentine’s Day class parties, I’ll have:

  • small water bottles
  • Valentine cupcakes from the store
  • Individually wrapped goldfish snacks or pretzel snacks
  • individually wrapped fruit–apples or small fruit cups

That’s it. Call me crazy, but I don’t think kids need a mad sugar overload here. A little sweet treat and a little healthy treat, and we’re done. Bam.

valentine's day class party ideas teachmama.com bags

Extra time?

It’s doubtful that if you follow this schedule you’ll have extra time, but if you do, an oldie but goodie: Freeze Dance!  Turn on the music, and let kids jam it out while it plays.

When the music stops, everybody freezes.

Easy and fun.

Plus, the kids love to show off their moves.

And if kids don’t want to play, no biggie! Let them open up their Valentines!

 ———————————————-

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | teachmama.com

valentine's day party ideas

I love sharing what we do at our class parties so that it’s easier for other parents to throw their own class parties.

This shouldn’t be difficult. It’s been done for years and years now, so there are a boatload of ideas out there.
What are your favorite Valentine ideas for kids? I’d love to hear ’em!

Here are a few of ours:

 

I wr2015-BlogAmbassador-Iconote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.   I’ve worked with Melissa & Doug for years and years now, and am always raving about their products for fun and learning. Read theMelissa & Doug blog to get the skinny! 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

valentine’s day heart bingo

valentine heart bingo teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

 

This is so funny–I created this bingo game ages and ages ago but never really shared it.

So?

Here it is: Valentine’s Day Heart Bingo.

Super-basic and similar in layout and design as our Halloween Ghost Bingo, but, of course, all Valentinesy and lovey.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Valentine’s Day Heart Bingo:

This is a great one to print out and use for classroom parties, for playdates, or for any time that works for you.

It’s a good, calm-down bingo game with a Valentine’s Day theme.

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

valentine's day heart bingo super-easy and fun for home or class parties | teachmama.com

 

Valentine’s Day HEART Bingo can be downloaded and shared here: valentines day HEART bingo | teachmama.com

(If you choose to share–and we hope you do!–please link to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

What you need to play:

Prepare to play! 

To prepare the game, all you need to do is print it. Then give each person a board and some bingo markers.

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

To play, the bingo caller rolls the die or flips the card.  Instead of the big bingo roller in the normal bingo game, we used the die or we used the small cards with letters H-E-A-R-T on them. This is how we decided which column the card would be under.

Then the bingo caller flips a small card to show players which object should be covered.  I created a small set of these cards and a larger set. The larger set has the name of the word written below the picture.

Bingo caller can say something like,

Okay, I flipped ‘H’ and the ‘fire heart’. Everyone look for the ‘fire heart’ under ‘H’–it looks like this. . .

Sweet! We’ve got an ‘E’ and the ‘happy guy’.  Who has it? The ‘happy guy’ looks like this. . .

Okay friends, we’re looking at the ‘R’ column and the ‘love face’. This is everyone’s favorite. Who has the ‘love face’ under the ‘R’?

Remember, the first one with five in a row, shout ‘HEART’!!!

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

Especially for early readers, seeing the picture and reading the name is a better way of learning words and letter sounds.

And mention it, too, as you go. There’s really no harm in pointing to the words as you say them. Reminding kids that ‘heart’ is spelled H-E-A-R-T and that the winner needs to shout ‘heart’ instead of bingo!

Hey–if they learn nothing during this game other than how to spell ‘heart’, it’s a win. Heart’s a difficult word, friends.

And, like all bingo, the winner is the first player to have five objects covered in a row.

valentine's day heart bingo - teach mama

 

Or you can get crazy and play 4 Corners (each corner covered), Blackout (full board covered), or Small Square (small box of two on top and two below covered).

Whatever works, whatever you need.

Happy playing!

Want a few more fun Valentine’s Day ideas? Check out: 

valentine's day class party ideas

how to throw a rockstar valentine's day party teachmama.com 2

 

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy