create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

make a library plan teachmama.com

Kids can be a little silly when it comes to picking out their own books at the library. create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

Where some can easily head right on over to the section they want, grab the books they want, and quickly find a quiet, cozy spot to read, others need . . . a little more direction.

And believe me, I’m all for giving kids time to browse the shelves, look around, relax and explore.

But really.

Our kids are so totally lucky to have so many books at their fingertips. Let’s give them a little direction so they can make the most of a trip to the library or to their school media center.

So after chatting with my pal Heather, and after my own kids’ crazy library book experiences, I decided to create a little Library Plan sheet.  They work.

They help give kids focus when they’re faced with All. Those. Books.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Create a Library Plan–Make the Most of a Trip to the Library:

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

I am not lying when I say that in Owen’s first three years in elementary school, he brought the same random book about dogs home at least ten times. It was a small, hardcover book about chihuahuas. And the fifth time it landed on our kitchen table, I asked why he brought it home again, and he said Because I like it.

I suggested that he try searching for other books about chihuahuas or even other books about dogs, but he said, No. I like this one.

 

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

The next year, when the book ended up back at our house, I gave him a little more nudging. You’re sure you love that book that much? I mean, haven’t you memorized it by now? 

He assured me that he just ‘really liked it’.

What I learned is that Owen doesn’t really care about his library books. He really doesn’t.

His goal? Grab a book. Bring it back to his class. Bring it home.  Maybe take it out of his backpack, depending on the day–maybe not. Bring it back to school. Put it in the library bin. Done. Bam.  Check it off. Gimme the next thing.

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

So rather than have him do the same thing this summer–a time when we usually hit the library as a family pretty often–I decided it was time to make the Library Plan.

Heather asked me a while ago if I had anything she could use for her boys, and really, I didn’t.

But now I do.

Small enough to fit inside a pocket or in the cover of a current library book, the Library Plan is super-simple.

The Library Plan is here to download if you so choose: library book plan

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

library book plan  | help kids make the most of a trip to the library!

It includes a space for titles that kids might be seeking, authors, and subjects. And in case you do your book searching from home, accessing your library’s card catalog via the library website like we often do, there’s a spot for notes, too. I thought that would be a great space to write down call numbers, messages, anything you want to remember from your at-home searching.

The Library Plan also includes a ‘think’ spot where all sorts of topics and ideas are added. I’m hoping that as Maddy, Owen, and Cora fill out their Plan sheets, these ideas jog their minds and helps to give them some things to think about or look for at the library.

And that’s it.

We used the Library Plans as the first day of our Tabletop Surprises this week, and they worked.

Really, truly helped to keep our afternoon trip to the library focused and productive.

 

What do you think? Will these work for your kids or students? What should we add or change? Do let me know!

what to ask teachers before school lets out

what parents must ask teachers before school ends

what parents must ask teachers before school ends

For many, school has already been released for the summer (yay!).

But for others, summer is right around the corner.

That means we have a few more days (or weeks for some of us up here in the Northeast!) to wrap things up and tie together those loose ends.  It also means we have our kids’ teachers on hand for just a little bit longer. 

And really? That’s awesome because come that last day, we know our teachers are ready for a serious break. They deserve it.

But there are a few things parents should ask teachers before everyone locks up classrooms, logs off of email, and heads for the shore.

I shared those two important questions over on Scholastic Parents Raise a Reader blog:

2 Things Every Parent Must Ask Teachers at the End of the Year.

Check it out.

And then? Let me know what you think.

  • Would you ask something else?
  • What do you usually ask teachers? 
  • How should parents better approach this subject? 

 

bing in the classroom: 3 reasons parents will love it

bing in the classroom or at home teachmama.com

This post was created in partnership with Bing.

It is so hard to imagine a time without the internet search.bing in the classroom or at home | cover teachmama.com

Any time there’s a question in our house, the kids run to the computer: Search it! Search it! Let’s search for it!

But searching isn’t always safe, and it isn’t always easy–especially for curious and tech-savvy kids, and this is why I totally dig Bing in the Classroom.

Bing in the Classroom is a program designed to do a few things:

  1. establish ad-free, safe search for schools;
  2. provide ways for schools get their hands on tablets for students via Bing rewards;
  3. offer teachers (and parents!) tons of really cool (free!) lesson plans.

Sure, you’re a parent, and school’s almost out for the year. So why does this matter to you?

Seriously, I’m going to love Bing in the Classroom this summer, when my 10, 8, and 7 year olds are hangin’ around the homefront each and every day.

It will provide for us a ton of resources to use to keep the kids’ learning fresh, exciting, and interesting over the summer.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  •  Bing in the Classroom–3 Reasons You Will Love it (even this summer!):  Learning about the program now gives you a few solid weeks to learn about Bing in the Classroom and share it with your school’s administration or technology team so that they can implement the program next school year.

And? Like I said, Bing in the Classroom gives you a ton of things to do this summer.

Take a minute to see how it works:

Show support for #adfreesearch!

How will I use Bing in the Classroom this summer? 

I’m a huge fan of providing kids with tons of cool things to do to stretch their brains and flex their creativity throughout the summer, and two big pieces of the Bing puzzle can do just that:

  • Free Teaching Tools: The premise behind the Common Core aligned resources available on the site is that parents or teachers can spend only about 10 minutes each day helping students learn to navigate the wilds of the internet, through amazing visuals and thought-provoking prompts.

Simply make your way to the Teaching Tools page.

bing in classroom: 3 reasons you will love it at home this summer | teachmama.com

Then enter your search perimeters, or you can just browse all resources for a certain age.  

The activity that caught my eye is below. Some are Power Point, some are Word docs, and some are mixed media. I love the detail, the options, and the focus on one powerful image, not to mention the link to Common Core at the end of each lesson.

I’m confident that this summer an activity or two each week will be engaging and interesting for Maddy, Owen, and Cora.

http://www.bing.com/classroom/teachingtools

 

  • Bing Searches: I love, love, love the Bing searches, and I think the photos on the main screen are perfect for getting kids interested in learning.

The photos rock. And the fact that you can mouse over all parts of the photo and learn fun facts is awesome.

bing in the classroom why parents will love it in summer

The Bing homepage looks like this. . .

bing in the classroom why parents will love it in summer

. . . and when you click more info, you get the skinny on the location and photographer. Every day.

bing in the classroom why parents will love it in summer

Love this.

Always, always, always you want to go to your settings tab once you log into your Microsoft account so that you can properly adjust your search mode.

Though these settings are never 110% completely foolproof, Bing’s safesearch filters are pretty close:

bing in the classroom for summer | teachmama.com

My plan for this summer, among other things for our Tabletop Surprises, one day a week I’ll just leave the photo up on our Intel AIO Touchscreen or Chromebook and let the kids go free.   Along with some internet search help tips and some guided practice, hopefully after the summer the kids will be ready for the new school year!

 
fyi: This post was created in partnership with Bing.  Affiliate links are used in this post. 

quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts

quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts | teachmama.com

Teacher Appreciation Week is here.quick, cool teacher appreciation gifts | teachmama.com

Teacher Appreciation Week is a time to give a little something extra to all of the teachers in your life, whether your kids are in preschool, elementary school, middle, or high school. 

You do not need to go crazy here. Teachers are thankful for any simple token of appreciation.

And if you’re anything like me, you’re a little bit behind in just about everything in life.

This parenting thing is hard.  And add in activities, work, meetings, and a very busy spouse, life is, well. . . busy.

So this year, though I would have loved to have worked hard with the kids to make something crazy cool like our flower pens, butterfly pens, or fingerprint note cards for teachers, we just didn’t have the time.

Instead, we found a quick, cool teacher appreciation gift that I am sure our kids’ teachers will love because it is definitely something they’ll use.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Quick, Cool Teacher Appreciation Gifts: We were rockin’ the yard sale front this weekend. It’s that time of the year, so I always have my eye out for a few things–my must-have’s from yard sales–and I found one of ’em.

We spotted a brand, new Scrabble game, and I grabbed it for fifty cents.

$.50.

50¢.

Bam.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

I wasn’t sure how we’d use it, but I had seen tons of super-cute ways of using Scrabble tiles that I thought it might come in handy for a last-minute, quick, cool teacher appreciation gift. And they did.

Maddy, Owen, Cora and I talked and talked about how we could use them. We considered:

  • Scrabble tile necklaces  (nah)
  • Scrabble tile bracelets (nope)
  • Scrabble tile bookmarks (but how?)
  • Scrabble tile pencil holders (yikes. not enough time. . . )
  • Scrabble tile tissue box covers (nah)

But nothing seemed right.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

So when the kids were at school yesterday, I ran to our local Home Goods store, much like a TJ Maxx or the like, and I grabbed three super-cute wooden desktop filers, similar to this unfinished desktop filer.  I know that most any teacher can find a way to use something like this.

And very simply, I hot-glued the teachers’ names onto the holders.  The kids loved them.

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

quick, cool teacher appreciation gift | teachmama.com

 

They were 110% sure their teachers would love them, and I think they’re correct. With a kid-made thank you card placed in the slot, they’ll be cool teacher appreciation gifts that we’re pretty sure the teachers will use.

They’re super-simple and quick to make, but the added personalization touch makes them pretty special.

And really, with teacher appreciation gifts, you want to give teachers something that they’ll use.  For all their hard work and dedication, they deserve as much as we can give them.

 

fyi: The teachmama.com youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers. It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!

 

What are some of your go-to gifts for teacher appreciation day?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post. . . use them, and we over here at teachmama.com get a teeny, tiny percentage of your sale. thanks so much, friends!! 

 

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

teachmama
 

Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge

Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge | teachmama.com

sponsored post

 

 

 

Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge | teachmama.com

When I was teaching, I always had a bulletin board full of opportunities for my students to win contests, write essays, submit poems, and receive accolades outside the classroom.

It’s so important for kids–and parents!–to realize that there are hundreds of cool contests running all the time.

Hundreds of dollars waiting to be won. Fab prizes and cool travel opportunities if kids just take some time to share their smarts with the world around them.

And so many of our kids are crazy smart, devising solutions to age-old problems that burden many and even working hard now to design answers to issues that may arise down the road.

Do you have a young tinker–belle or beau–on your hands?

A smartypants middle-schooler who may need a little something to get him through spring break?

A creative, outside-the-box thinker who may have found the solution to an environmental issue in your neighborhood?

A kid who may find a good way to put $25,000 to use if he or she wins?

I’ve got just the thing:  Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge:

Here’s what you need to know. . .

Who:  Contest is open to middle school students

What:The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is the nation’s premier science competition for middle school students.

Why: It targets students in the years when research indicates their interest in science begins to fade and encourages them to explore scientific concepts and creatively communicate their findings.

Where:Young Scientist Challenge site

When:  Deadline for applications is April 22, 2014.

How:  Middle school students are create a 1-2 min video communicating the science behind a possible solution for an everyday problem. Based on the video entry, 10 finalists are chosen to work with a 3M scientist during a summer mentorship to create an innovation that will be presented to a panel of judges at the final competition at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota in October. WOW, right?

 

 

Check out the video for a bit more about the contest, and do pass this post on to friends, family, and schools. I know that so many kids would enter–if they only knew about it.

And how cool is this: past challenge winners have gone on to speak in front of members of Congress! Winners have also worked with the nation’s top scientists, participated in the White House Science Fair, met the President and pursued academic careers in the sciences. I love it.

Read through the complete rules and details on the competition website.

Chat with the competition folks over on their Facebook page or tweet with them on twitter:

And if your super-smart, totally cool middle schooler enters?  Let me know!! 

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post. Many thanks to my friends at Discovery Education for asking me to share news of this important and totally cool contest; as always, my opinions are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and a parent. 

stand up for yourself: at work, home, and school

stand up for yourself at work, home, school teachmama.com

stand up for yourself at work, home, school | teachmama.comThe following guest post is written by Carmen Blyth, of The Teacher Whisperer blog, a place for teachers with a story to tell.

Though I know that not every person who reads this blog is a teacher, I think this post is relevant even for all adults.  Sometimes even as adults, we need a little reminder to stand up for ourselves, no matter the situation–in the classroom, in the workplace, in volunteer organizations, in families, or in groups of friends.

We need to stand up for ourselves so that we can be good role models for our kids.

Are you being treated the way you deserve to be treated?  Are you treating others the way they deserve to be treated?

As parents, our interactions with other adults is a crazy-important model for how our kids view the world and what is expected, what is right, and what is the norm.

Let’s make sure we’re doing the best we can as a decent model for our kids at work, at home, and at school. Right?   Right.

——————————

  • Standing Up For Yourself–Being Bullied by Other Teachers, by Carmen Blyth

Yes, it happens! And no, ignoring it won’t make it go away. It’ll just make things worse–for you!

What does being bullied mean?

Being bullied by other teachers, means being treated in a disrespectful manner, repeatedly and intentionally.  It can mean being ignored by colleagues, gossiped about, shouted at at meetings or told your input is not valued.  If intentional and sustained, these types of disrespectful actions constitute bullying. And these examples are just the tip of a very large iceberg.

Being reasonable, logical, and having goodwill and a team approach will not work with a bully.  Being ‘nice’ or ‘fair’ is also not an option.

So what can you do? Seemingly very little, but you can do something to stop the bullying and maybe even get the bully permanently out of your work space!

Here’s what you do:

1. Make a detailed record of the incident(s). Include the date, day, time, place who was involved, names of any witnesses and what actually happened (write what was actually said or done if you can remember).

2. Make a written complaint to your line manager (your supervisor/team leader for example). You must detail the event and who was involved. Keep the wording as calm and collected as possible so there is no chance of being called ‘emotional’ or ‘over the top.’ Make sure to ask what the school policy on bullying is and the time line for action to be taken. Require at the very least a formal apology.

3. Send a cc to the principal (or supervisor, if you are not a teacher). This is super important, as it will ensure that the complaint isn’t simply brushed aside.

4.  Follow up. Follow up with the principal if you do not hear from your line manager within 24 hours.

Click here to see a sample written complaint. All names and the situations described are fictitious.

 

Birdcage & Puppet

Thank you, Carmen, for sharing a post on an important–and not always easy–topic.

The TEACHER WHISPERER is a blog dedicated to teachers telling their stories, stories that will make us better teachers. Tweet me @teacherwhispers

 

Looking for more information about bullying?

Check out these blog posts: 

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards: 

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

valentine’s day class party ideas, 2.0

valentine's day class party ideas, 2.0 | fun ideas to get groups of kids moving and having fun | minute to win it games | free printables | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

  

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

 

For many years now I’ve been roped into being Room Parent for my kids’ classes, and though I do love the opportunity to meet other families from the school and to get to know the kids in the class, it’s a lot of work.

More than once I’ve wished that there was a secret site that gave me all of the Valentine’s Day class party ideas I needed–the letters to send, the snacks to serve, crafts to make and the games to play.

But knowing that such a thing doesn’t exist and that each class party is different and unique, I am just sharing the love.

Whatever I’m doing as Room Parent, I’m sharing my own, gathered ’round the world Valentine’s Day class party ideas. There you have it.

I shared How to have a Rockstar Valentine’s Day class party, and now we’re back at it again.  2.0, man. 2.0.

Grab what works for you, and leave what doesn’t.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Valentine’s Day Class Party Ideas, 2.0:

The real secret to success with these parties to to keep the atmosphere light and to make sure you have a handful of awesome helpers on board.

  • Parent Letter: About three weeks before the class party, chat with the teacher and ask:
    • What is the timeframe for the party?
    • Is there anything special you’d like for us to do? 
    • Do you want the kids to address each Valentine or keep them nameless?  (Nameless is often better for younger kids and allows for easier, quicker distribution.)
    • What are the food restrictions for the students? 
    • Do you know of anything that has really worked well in the past that you would recommend repeating? 

Then draft a Parent Letter (you can definitely model yours after the one I’ve used here: valentines day class party letter BLANK).  Head into school and make copies, and put one in each child’s cubby or take-home folder.

valentines day class party  | teachmama.com

If the teacher suggests that Valentines be addressed to recipients, then be sure to include a copy of the class list.

  • Prepare! Pow-wow with your Co-Room Parents or do a little research to figure out what will work for your party.

Make a shopping list and split the job up.   I usually like collecting money from other parents and then having the Room Parents purchase the items we need. Other people like to have the job split up: one parent brings cupcakes, another juice boxes, another small prizes, etc.

valentine's day class party plan  teachmama.com

  • Create the Plan: I love having the party plan out so that all of the helper parents and the teacher knows what’s going on for the event. That way, everyone’s on board.

Here’s a sample of our party plan. Feel free to use and modify for your own rockin class party: valentine party plan 2014.  Want it in word? valentine party plan 2014 — word doc

  • Rock. The. Party.

Here’s what’s on our schedule this year:

musical hearts reading, moving, & crazy-fun kid game teachmama.com

This heart-happy game can be adapted for nearly any reading level, and I love how it gets kids engaged, reading, and responding.

 

valentines day class party ideas  craft  teachmama.com

    • Stained Glass Hearts:  The kids will make these easy, super-cute, no-glue crafts which are really pretty.

Simple, sweet crafts that look so pretty in wintertime windows, no matter where you are.

valentines day class party ideas  guess the word  teachmama.com

    • Valentine Guess the Word: While they’re crafting, they can play Guess the Word.  We’ve played it for our other parties, and the kids really seem to enjoy it.

 

    • Valentine Card Delivery and Snack!  The kids’ favorite part! Break the class in half.  Let one half deliver their Valentines, while the other eats, and then have them switch.

Then give the kids some time to read their Valentines!

hint: Have the plates of food ready and set them in front of each student. It makes things move a lot more smoothly!

valentines day class party ideas  groups teachmama.com

    • Small-Group Minute-to-Win-it Games:  We’ll break the kids into three groups by having them pick a heart foam sticker out of a bag. Three groups: white hearts, red hearts, and pink hearts.  That way, we’ll have about 6-8 kids in each group.  A bit easier to manage.

We are not keeping score here with our games. It’d be too hectic, and the focus is fun, not big wins.

We’ll encourage each child to do his or her best. At the end, if everyone works hard, everyone grabs a prize!

Each ‘game station’ will host two Minute-to-Win-It games.  At the first rotation, every student will receive a small Valentine goodie bag to keep candy and supplies.

valentines day class party ideas marshmallow race teachmama.com

    • Marshmallow Race:  Simple. You can play this several ways.

1. Break the group in half and draw a line in the middle of the table. Each side uses inexpensive plastic straws to try to blow the marshmallows to the other side of the line. The team with the most after one minute wins.

2.  Each person plays individually and has one minute to blow a single marshmallow from one side of the table to the other. The person with the most at the end wins.

Straws and marshmallows, and a clean table–that’s all you need.

valentines day class party ideas marshmallow toss teachmama.com

    •  Marshmallow Toss:  Students partner up and stand across from each other, about 2-4 feet apart.  One person has a handful of marshmallows and the other has a small paper cup. Students have one minute to toss as many marshmallows into the cup as possible.

After one minute, the throwers catch and the catchers throw.

The winning team is the one with the most marshmallows in the cup!

valentines day class party ideas heart towers teachmama.com

    • Heart Towers: Students have one minute to stack as many conversation hearts as they can. It’s harder than you may think!

The winner is the person who has the highest stack after one minute.

valentines day class party ideas bracelets teachmama.com

    • One-Handed Bracelets: One minute to thread as many fruit loops onto a pipe cleaner as possible.

And then–here’s the clincher–the player has to make that pipe cleaner into a braclet. Using one hand.  So funny!

valentines day class party ideas cookie face teachmama.com

    • Cookie Face: Players have a cookie on their foreheads and have one minute to move that cookie from their forehead and into their mouth.

So hard. And so, so funny to watch!

The winner is the player who moves the most cookies from forehead to mouth in one minute’s time!

valentines day class party ideas heart chopstick race teachmama.com

    • Heart Chopstick Race:  An oldie for Valentine’s Day class parties but definitely a goodie.

Players work individually to move as many conversation hearts from a central bowl into their own plastic cups, using only a pair of chopsticks.  It’s not easy, and very quickly you’ll see which students use chopsticks on a regular basis.

 

valentines day class party ideas heart mitten race teachmama.com

    • Mitten Race: Kids totally love this game.

Wearing a pair of adult ski mittens, players try to unwrap a piece of candy. Small candies with tight wrappers, like Starburst or Tootsie Rolls are especially hard.

You can play this game with the kids in two lines, and as each child unwraps the candy he or she pops it in his or her mouth and passes on the mittens, going down the line, or you can play individually.  Each child wears a pair of mittens and the winner is the player who unwraps the most candy in one minute.

valentines day class party ideas heart puzzle race teachmama.com

 

    • Puzzle Race: I love the simplicity of this and kids love to do ‘speedy puzzles’ together.

These are really just six or seven Valentine-themed photos that I printed out on cardstock and cut into pieces.  I printed them on three different shades of paper to make it a little bit easier, but the goal is to put as many together under one minute as possible.

The Valentine’s Day puzzles are here to download if you’d like: valentines day class party PUZZLES.  

valentines day class party | puzzle race | teachmama.com

valentines day class party  | puzzle race | teachmama.com

You may want to add an extra for your school’s mascot just for kicks.

My suggestion is to flip the pieces face down on the table, start the timer, and let the kids at ’em. If they are struggling, then show them the key. Otherwise, let them have fun with it!

 

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

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

valentine's day class party ideas

 

 

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

when talking to teachers: 5 tips for parents

when talking to teachers 5 tips for parents

when talking to teachers 5 tips for parents

As a writer for Scholastic Parents’ Raise a Reader blog, I’m always surprised at what sparks the most conversation among readers.

I recently wrote Talking to Teachers: What Every Parent Needs to Know, and it raised a boatload of emotion over on the Scholastic Parents’ Facebook page.

Really. I was quite surprised.

Check it out.  And tell me. . .

What do you think?

Am I missing the mark?

Do you agree or disagree?

Did any of the comments strike a nerve with you, as a parent or teacher?

Share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page, or find me on twitter, @teachmama, and let’s continue the conversation!

 

 

 

school RULES! super-silly lunchbox joke notes

school RULES! super-silly lunchbox joke notes

post contains affiliate links

 

 

school rules lunchbox joke notes

It has been such an amazing summer.  I am desperately, terribly, incredibly sad to see it go.

But here we are.  Marching forward.

At my kids’ request, I whipped up another batch of lunchbox love notes.  This time, they’re silly, wacky, crazy, funny, and giggle-inducing.

They’ve asked for more jokes.  So fun.

And since school’s starting in a minute (waahhhh!), what better way to ring in the new school year than by celebrating their good, ole school days with School RULES! Lunchbox Joke Notes?

Right?  Right.

And really, the jokes help to keep things light for this mama who has a hard time with change.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • School RULES! Super-Silly Lunchbox Joke Notes: During our last summertime library trip, we grabbed a boatload of joke books, and I added the ones that were school-related to this 3-pager joke printable.

They’re funny.  I must admit.

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

And because Cora loves the pictures–and can still really benefit from using them to help her decode the text, as an early reader, I tried to add related art for each joke.

Amazing to think that last year’s Wordless Riddles Notes were mostly photos because she couldn’t read as much. Incredible what happens during that Kindergarten year! Our babies learn to read!

There are 24 superstar, hilarious, fabulous notes on these pages.

 

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

Cut the notes together if you have more than one kiddo. . .

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

then write a little love. . .

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

. . . and fold it so that the answer to the joke is hidden!

To make it easier for cutting (so I’m not spending three hours standing and cutting, standing and cutting), I simply grab three copies of the first sheet and cut those–three pages at once. Then I do the same for the second and third sheets.

I stack them in our cabinet so I can easily grab the first three on the pile, write a quick ‘Maddy, I love you! xoxo love Mom’ on the note–something short and sweet–and toss them in the lunchboxes.

The school RULES lunchbox joke notes are here to download and use for your own kiddos if you so choose. If you would, feel free to share with a buddy so that all kids get a little something silly in their lunch this year!

Print them here: school rules joke lunchbox notes

school rules lunchbox notes  | teachmama.com school rules joke lunchbox notes

I try to put the same note in each child’s lunch so I can make sure there aren’t repeats through the month, though that doesn’t always work.  Just clip them together in a little stack so they’re easy to grab when I’m making lunches two seconds before they leave the house.

I wouldn’t worry if your kiddo isn’t reading yet; you can still add lunchbox love notes and have your child ask the teacher to read it to him or her. I did that when Maddy, Owen, and Cora were teeny, and I really think that it helps kids build confidence, patience, manners, and communication skills.

Though teachers are super-busy, and we all know that, most likely he or she can find 15 seconds to read a silly note to a student.

And that’s it. Just a little something silly to get us moving in the right direction next week when school starts. Keeping it light for a few weeks of change.

Want a look at all of our lunchbox looooove notes? Here they are:

Need more awesome Back-to-School lunchy ideas? Definitely check out:

Here’s to a rockstar 2013-2014 school year and many more to come!

fyi: feel free to use the links below to more joke books if you’d like more silly  jokes in your life

back-to-school shopping: the secret to keeping kids happy AND parents happy

back to school : happy kids, happy parents

back to school shopping Back-to-School shopping can be crazy, stressful, and anxiety-producing for kids and parents alike.

But there are a few things we can do to make this annual event lighter, easier, and more fun for everyone.

We’ve kept our kids actively engaged in our back-to-school shopping ever since they were tiny, and this year was no different. However, as they get older, we make adjustments to keep them in the loop–from beginning to end.

We did a whole lot of pre-shopping research and planning, printed out their shopping lists, and then hit the stores.

And once we were there, we tried Cartwheel from Target that I really think is beyond cool for customizing and personalizing a shopping experience. Easy and free. Two ‘musts’ for anything that I incorporate into my life.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Back-to-School Shopping– The Secret to Keeping Kids Happy and Parents Happy:

Keep kids happy by. . .

back to school price shopping tabletop surprise

back to school price shopping tabletop surprise

 

1. Making them involved from step one.

This year, because we have a rising 4th, 2nd, and 1st grader (UNbelievable!), we had the kids help with even deciding where to do our shopping. As one of our tabletop surprises, they went through the circulars, compared prices, looked at their lists, and made some shopping decisions.

And then? We shopped.

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back to school shopping

 

 

2. Making shopping for supplies a ‘scavenger hunt’.

Each year, I’ve created a ‘kid-friendly’ shopping list for Maddy, Owen, and Cora. Their lists included everything they needed for the year along with hopeful donations for the classroom.

We read through the list together, and then the kids are on their own to search for each item (not really–we do it together!).

back to school shopping

back to school shopping

Each kiddo gets his or her own shopping back, list, and pen or pencil. And they’re free birds.

Need a list?

We’ve used:

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back to school shopping

3. Organizing ‘loot’ after you get home.

The cool thing about this is that not only are kids re-reading the list, you’re getting a chance to see that everything on the list actually makes it into the bags that you’ll take to Open House.

It reminds me of the way kids root through their Halloween loot after Trick-or-Treating–they really do love going through their supplies once shopping is finished.

And if we weren’t able to locate an item? Now’s the time to circle it, highlight it, and make sure we find it before the big day.

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Now it’s our turn.

Keep parents happy by. . .

target cartwheel | teachmama.com

1. Saving money.

Really. Totally one of the most fabulous things out there, Target’s Cartwheel is so crazy cool, it’s nuts.

The concept is simple: you choose up to 16 items you are shopping for, add them to your ‘cartwheel‘ via computer or mobile device, have the checkout person scan your special code at the register, and BAM! you get a huge discount.

And if you use it enough, you can earn badges, awards, and even more savings.   You can actually even link Cartwheel to your Facebook account (though there’s no pressure to do so), and then you get to see what your friends are buying, what they’ve saved, and what you’re missing out on if you don’t start using your own cartwheel.

They’ve got items organized in Collections so shopping is completely easy.

target cartwheel logo

Though admittedly I created my Cartwheel months ago, I let it sit, forgot my login and then re-created my Cartwheel again only recently and then (believe this. . . ) forgot to use it at the checkout for our back-to-school shopping (what is wrong with me?), many of my friends have used it and have saved HUGELY.

How do I know they did? Because I tell them about these great things then forget to use them myself and then thanks to the power of social media, I can tell how much they’ve saved because Cartwheel lets the whole world know (if you want–if you don’t want the world to know, you can adjust your settings). But don’t we all brag about great deals we find? I know I do.

Cartwheel does it for you.  Try it. And let me know what you think.

And then send me a text reminding me to use mine.

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target redcard happy

2. Creating a card that makes sense.

The reality is that I often lose receipts. And I often buy things I need to return. And occasionally I forget to return those items.  It’s a beautifully ridiculous combination, I’m afraid, one is equivalent to nails on a chalkboard for my poor, loving, patient husband.

So the REDcard makes sense for me.  It makes sense for my familia.

No need for me to get into the nitty gritty of the card, but check it out for yourself.  It’s a happy card.

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take charge of ed target

3.  Giving back.

Any time you use your REDcard, not only will you save 5%, but 1% of that savings will go to an eligible K-12 school of your choice.

The program is called Take Charge of Education, and literally all you have to do is visit the site, register your card and choose your school. And tell your friends to do the same. Because at the end of the year, your kids’ school will receive a check–thanks to your spending at Target.

Seriously. So do it. Because you know you spend a handful of cash at Target. Might as well have some of that go back to your school, right?

 

target give with target

 

But the giving doesn’t stop with your school–even though it sure is nice.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Target has made it a goal to give $1 billion to education by 2015 through their their numerous programs and initiatives, like the incredible School Library Makeovers for one.

They’ve just re-launched Give With Target for a second time–and it’s awesome.

Here’s the deal:  (from the Target site)

Simply select a K–12 school from the list of eligible schools and vote for it weekly until September 21 or until $5 million has been awarded, whichever occurs first. It takes just 25 votes to start. After that, Target will donate $25 to your selected school. Upon receiving 25 votes, each additional vote equals $1 more for up to $10,000 per school. If your favorite school is not on our list, please choose another school.

give with target email screener

Target’s making it insanely easy to share, to vote, and to remind your friends, to, since they’ve all hooked up with Facebook for this one.

You can use their nifty little email template to share the news with your class, PTA, principal, friends, family, you name it. Share it. And if you to, and if you have enough sharing and voting going on, your school can really see some cold, hard cash, thanks to Target.

Just think about the books, equipment, technology, teacher training, and field trips that kind of money can buy. Nuts.

Start sharing, friends! Start the sharing!

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That’s it. We’re at year number five of buying school supplies and doing the elementary school thing, so we’re kind sorta hitting a stride.

No, it’s not perfect. But we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve now to keep kids–and parents–happy for at least a little bit of the experience.target inner circle

What works for your family? Any tricks for maintaining peace or bringing some big smiles to your crew? Do share!

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, written as a parent and educator who wants to share a few good–pretty darn great–things when I see them. As part of Target’s Inner Circle program, I am privy to a behind-the-scenes look at all things Target, but that in no way, shape, or form influences what I write about them.  Honestly, the more I learn, the more I like ’em. 

Please be sure to follow the links for more specific information about these programs and campaigns.

VolunteerSpot: parents AND teachers can win BIG for back-to-school (sponsored)

volunteerspot get spotted volunteering

sponsored post

 

 

 

volunteerspot get spotted volunteeringI’ve been a longtime fan of VolunteerSpot for the ease with which I can participate in and organize events at my kids’ school.

I’ve loved them for really changing the way people can manage events–big and small–and I’ve loved them because their service is free.  No joke. F to the R-E-E. Free.

But this back-to-school season, I love them even more because they’re offering not one but three $1500 grants to people who ‘get caught’ volunteering at their child’s school.

Parents and schools aren’t the only ones who win here, though.

Teachers, if they just try VolunteerSpot, can win two iPad mini’s –one for them and one for a friend. Or two for their class. Awesome, right?

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • VolunteerSpot–Parents AND Teachers Can Win BIG for Back-to-School:

Let’s get it straight: two cool things thanks to VolunteerSpot

1.  three grants of $1500 for people who volunteer and

2. one giveaway of two iPad mini’s to a teacher who uses VolunteerSpot.

Makes me want to dance.

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For volunteers:

How to Enter to Win (You can do one of these, or all.)

1. Use VolunteerSpot during August to Take the Pledge to volunteer for your school. Don’t worry if you don’t have a specific activity to sign up for yet; just make the commitment to help out with one thing this school year.

Just be sure to include your school’s name when prompted during the easy registration process. Boom! You’ve got 1 entry already.

GetSpottedMain

2. Use VolunteerSpot’s FREE online sign up sheets during August* to organize the parent volunteers for any school activity: back-to-school events, classroom helpers, carnivals, book fairs, hospitality teams & potlucks, concessions – any activity that involves multiple volunteers will be easier to manage with online sign ups and scheduling.

How to Get More Chances for Your School to Win

Invite (okay, bug) your neighborhood friends and fellow parents to use VolunteeerSpot this August too. Every new Pledge and new activity organized in VolunteerSpot.com counts as an entry for your school, so the more people you can get to sign up, the more entries to win $1,500 your school will get.

Post it on Facebook, or even better, email your whole class and ask them to take the pledge too. You might even remind people to take the pledge when you see them on the first day of school. Isn’t it worth it for the chance to win $1,500 bucks for your school?

VolunteerSpot Logo

One Last Brilliant Idea

Maybe you’re not the person who gets super involved in organizing activities for your school, but you probably know who is. Send the link to this page (http://vols.pt/GSVOL) to the person you know who is most involved with your school’s parent/school organization. That way, even if you don’t need to organize an activity with VolunteerSpot right now, you can still help someone else out AND help your school win.

The Rules

If you have really bad insomnia, you can read the official rules here. Zzzzzz.

If not, here’s an easy-to-read summary:

  • 3 schools will be chosen at random to win. Each will receive a $1,500 grant from VolunteerSpot for their designated school’s parent-teacher organization.
  • You must be at least 18 years old to enter for your school.
  • You must reside in the United States. (We know, we know, but international sweepstakes laws are just too complex for us to handle. We are sorry!)
  • The following uses of VolunteerSpot count as entries: registering and school organizer or teacher/educator VolunteerSpot account (it’s free!), setting up an activity, signing up for an activity someone else has set up, and pledging to volunteer.
  • The sweeps will run from Aug 1- Aug 31st, so enter now! Winners will be drawn at random and notified in September.

If you still have questions, please click HELP at the top of VolunteerSpot.com and contact us.

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teachers ipad mini volunteerspot
For teachers:
How to Enter to Win TWO iPad minis1. Use VolunteerSpot’s online sign-up sheets during August to simplify scheduling:

  • parent-teacher conferences
  • guest readers & volunteers
  • class snacks
  • potlucks or parties
  • trips & tournaments
  • any activity with multiple sign ups

(If you use email for any of these tasks right now, you know what a pain it is to contact and re-contact everyone involved, not to mention organizing everyone’s replies. No more!)

2. When you register your account, just confirm that you are a teacher/educator and enter the name of your school when prompted, you’ll be automatically entered to win!

3. BONUS! When you enter the name of your school, your school’s parent-teacher organization will also be automatically entered to win $1,500 in our back-to-school  Get Spotted Volunteering in August sweeps.

Volunteerspot logo option

Important!

Once you’ve tried VolunteerSpot for yourself, be sure to tell a fellow teacher to enter too. That way of she (or he) wins, she might just share that second iPad mini with you. Sweet!

Of course winning two iPad minis would be totally cool, but also we hope that once you try VolunteerSpot you’ll tell other teachers about it because it makes sign-ups so much easier. Please let us know what you think!

The Rules

If you’re having trouble sleeping, you can read the official rules here. Zzzzz.

Alternatively, here is a summary:

  • The winner will be chosen at random from among all eligible entries.
  • You must be at least 18 years old to win.
  • You must be a teacher or educator employed by a public, parochial or independent school.
  • You must reside in the United States. (Sorry, we dislike this rule too, but international sweepstakes laws are just too complex for us to handle. We are sorry!)
  • You must use VolunteerSpot to organize an activity between Aug 1- Aug 30. The activity may occur at a later date, but you must create the sign up sheet during August.
  • The winner will be notified in September.

If you still have questions, please contact us by clicking Help at the top of VolunteerSpot.com.

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Really. That’s it. Hope that you or your school is super-lucky this year, and if you are. . . please let me know!
Off to share this post with my school, PTA, and teacher buddies!
Here’s to a rockstar 2013-2014 school year, and huge and happy thanks to VolunteerSpot for making it easier to support our schools and teachers!
fyi: Though I am a longtime fan of VolunteerSpot, I was compensated for my time in sharing news of this rockstar campaign. My opinions, as always, are my very own, influenced only by my experience as a parent, teacher, and volunteer.