Dinosaur Halloween Birthday Party

Last year my daughter wanted a dinosaur birthday party, and since her birthday is on Halloween we combined the two themes.

We started the party by having kiddos work on a personalized dinosaur bag and foam magnet. It was a great arrival activity!

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My husband then read a Dinosaur Halloween book called T-Rex Trick or Treats. It was a PERFECT literature connection between our two themes- I liked the book so much that I based all our party activities on it!

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Our games included pin the skull on the dinosaur,

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jumping our dinosaur inflatables around on our parachute,

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t-rex trick or treating,

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and making dinosaur witches brew. All the images from our signs are from the book- loved how it worked out!

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The kids got to take a small bag of our brew home as part of their goodie bags.

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Treat table included this fruity monster and other dino foods:IMG_0957 IMG_0948 DSCN9765

We also handed out dinosaur books to kids- you can never have too many books! And yay for educational ones, too!

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I hope these pics inspired you to create your own amazing dinosaur party!

Happy teaching!

Book Buddy App: Must Have for Teachers and Librarians

I have been so excited to share an AMAZING iPhone/iPod/iPad app with you! It is called Book Buddy, but it may as well be called the Best Book Cataloging App Ever :). And no they didn’t pay me to say it- I truly just love it! In the digital age that we live in- and the easy access most of us to have technology- it just makes sense to have a digital database of all our books. It will make lesson planning easier as well as assisting you in trying to locate that one copy of a book you know you have SOMEWHERE.


Here are some of Book Buddy‘s great features….

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home screen of the Book Buddy app

1. You can easily add books to your library 3 ways: scanning the barcode, searching in an online database, or manually adding the books. You may think- why would I want to manually add books? Well, sometimes a book might not be in the database. OR you may want to add some of your classroom’s created books. Cute, right? It makes those homemade books feel more professional. :)

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2. While lots of books have pictures of the titles already stored in the database, there are exceptions. No worries though- YOU can take a picture of the book! This is another feature that you could use when adding those books made by your kiddos.

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3. After a book is added to your library that is in the database, there is a link to an online summary as well as reviews. This is also a great tool in getting additional background on the authors. There are also some links if you need to purchase more copies of the book.

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4. One of my favorite features of this app is the tagging system. You are able to easily add tags to each book that is in your Book Buddy library. You are able to sort and search books by tags. For example, after scanning “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” into my library, I added the following tags: “animals”, “breakfast”, “comical”, “level k”, “pigs”, “problem solving”, and “sequencing”. Now, when I am teaching a unit on pigs, I just look up all my books with the “pig” tag and this book and others will show up. No more searching through all the book tubs for titles! I just love this- especially when you have books that can be placed in various places in your classroom/home. Which bring me to the next reason I love this app….

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a few of the tags I added

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a look at some of the books listed under the tag “Pigs”

5. This is a great app to keep track of those leveled libraries! While it doesn’t look up the guided or lexile reading levels for you, if you know the level already simply add it as a tag. (I used a free app called Literacy Leveler to look up levels on some of my books). So if you are wanting to know all the level N books in your classroom, simply look up the tag. It will let you know all the titles despite the location (super useful if you have books everywhere- in baskets, themed tubs, bookshelves, etc) Which also brings me to the next reason I love this app….

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6.  You can sort your books into categories. Now you may wonder, how could I utilize this feature? Books that are scanned into this app are automatically placed in the “unfiled” section of your library and will remain there until you place them in a category. I have created categories for all the different locations where I may have books. Some of my categories are “Animal Tub”, “Biography Tub”, “Craft Room Bookshelf”, “Leveled Library”, and “Professional” (plus a TON more).  To add a book to a category, I go to my list of unfiled books, click on a book title, click on “move book” and then select the category. While this app does have the option of adding a physical location of each of your books, I found the categories much faster to add and it will be faster to edit the location- because lets face it, we are constantly moving books around. It is also easier to view all the titles in each of my tubs quickly while in the home screen of this app.

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a list of the unfiled books in my library

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7. You can sort your library by title, author, genre, rating, and more! A great way if you know you want a last minute author study of Eric Carle or want to see what historical fiction literature you can share with your students.

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8. If you have every spent hours at an expensive bookstore drooling over books with the intent to go home and find them for cheaper on Amazon (not that I have ever done that or anything) this will help you out! You can scan in books while at the store and add them to your wish list. Then the next time someone offers to get you a book for your library you can let them know specific titles right away. You can also printout a list of your wish list items to hand out to parents at conferences! :) I LOVE it!!!!

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9. Book Buddy has a simple yet effective check out system. Just click on the title of the book, click edit, and then change the “loaned out” status from none to either an existing contact or create a new contact. There is no way to import a class list, but to be honest I didn’t have students checking out books to take home too often. You can view your list of loaned out books from the home screen, and you can also export a list of those books that are borrowed, upload it to dropbox, and print. Imagine how nice that would be to show parents at conferences- they would not only see what books their child needs to bring back but they could see what the book actually looks like- which might prove to be useful in locating it :). Which brings me to the final reason I love this app….

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10. You can back up your library. In this digital age of technology crashes- having a backup of data is a MUST. Especially if you have spent hours adding this data! You can also export and print your entire library- or just parts of the library. Like if I wanted a printout of all my Level M books so I could laminate it and place it next to my level M book tub, I would just go to settings, utilities, export, and then update the “My Books” section to the tag “Level M”. Click on export and there you go! If you have access to an airprinter you can print your wishlist, borrowed items, or an entire list of all books in your library. I think exporting them to Dropbox works better because you can export specific lists. And one thing I love about the lists is that there is a cute little thumbnail of the picture with information such as who it’s currently loaned out to, what category it’s in, and the different tags.

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There are so many other features too- you can recommend books in your library via twitter, facebook, or email. You can also keep track of books that you have borrowed from someone else. There is the ability to import files (haven’t tried this yet), mark books that are your favorites, add books to a series, and give books a rating (up to 5 stars). There is a free version, which I played around with until I felt comfortable paying for the upgrade- in my opinion the pro version is well worth the money!

Before I started scanning in 1500 books, I did my research. This app does everything I need and more- hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do!

Happy Teaching

Summer Organization

For those that don’t know me well, I LOVE planning. It just makes my heart smile seeing organized lessons and ideas all bundled up in folders and binders with color coded titles… please say I’m not the only one! Anyway, when I was putting together the summer activities for my little family I knew I needed to revamp the organization. I had so many ideas that I knew I would get bogged down if I didn’t create an easy, educational routine.

And here it is. The ultimate summer organization system!

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This plastic drawer cart holds all the activities I plan to do each day. I love that it is all in one location and I can prepare in advance for the week so I can just sit back and have fun without scrambling for materials.

image_3This is what I plan to put in each drawer:

Monday-

Read Naturally Book (a collection of timed stories my daughter reads and answers comprehension questions)

Piano Books (Mondays are the days of my daughters piano lessons)

Make Something Monday List (this is just for me: a list of different projects we can make during the summer. I put the materials in the Mystery Box that my daughter can open after her jobs)

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Tuesday-

Summer Passport (a little journal where Boo can write down the places we travel to on our Take a Trip Tuesdays)

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Wednesday-

Worksheet (just a random sheet with skills Boo needs to practice- nothing strenuous)

Engineering challenges and materials

Thursday and Friday-

Materials for our STEAM camps (flash cards, books, lesson plans, manipulatives)

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Next Week- folders with our STEAM camp ideas, extra worksheets, Science Saturday List, our STEAM journal where we can record our learning

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I took our Summer Bucket List can and really narrowed down our ideas to things we can do immediately without any extra materials. We still are using the color coded system.  Our yellow sticks have outside games and activities, blue sticks are easy treats and snacks, red sticks have simple art projects, green sticks have local field trips (less than 5 minutes away), and purple sticks are movement and exercise games.

If you hear the words “I’m bored” a lot during the summer, than this might be the solution for you. The bucket list activities that require materials,  are far away, or are things that I really REALLY want to do during the summer are not in the can but are scheduled in our calendar. It just made more sense to do it this way!

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Our mystery box contains items that would be fun to explore and make creations with. After we are done with our jobs we can open up our box to see our special item of the day! The objects I plan on putting in our box include yarn, paper clips, straws, balloons, bubbles, jump rope, etc. Nothing too over the top. Boo can use that item during free play, to make a craft, to come up with a game, to do an experiment, ANYTHING she wants.  I am excited to use these items to spark a little excitement for engineering as well as just being fun and creative with something new every day… because lets face it, we all need a little change.

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There it is! I am hoping that these three organizational tools (plastic drawer cart with daily activities, Summer Bucket List can,  and Mystery Box) will help make your summer a little less hectic so you can enjoy these precious moments!

Happy Teaching!

STEAM Summer Camps

Happy Summer everyone! I am so excited to have lots of time to hang out with my #1 kid before she heads off to first grade (and all day school! eeks!) I like to have a lot of summer plans to avoid lots of down time (aka TV time). steam I will be honest- as a teacher mom I have been frustrated with the lack of differentiated curriculum and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) learning in our schools. So I have taken it upon myself to provide my daughter with more extensive activities based on these areas and her interests and abilities. I was introduced to Core Knowledge by my sister and a colleague and knew it was a curriculum I wanted to integrate into our activities as well. Core Knowledge is a comprehensive curriculum that builds on the knowledge of previous years. I took some units from this program, tied them in with STEAM, and came up with this summer camp program. I am really excited about it!

The basis of this program is to provide my daughter with activities in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). Every week we will be experimenting with Science on Saturdays. There will also be a weekly Engineering Challenge. The majority of our STEAM learning however will be from learning camps we will have on Thursdays and Fridays. I have a lot of science camps planned (based on content from Core Knowledge and my daughter’s interests) as well as Art, Music, and Math camps. Each camp has different ways you can integrate STEAM. For example, the Rock Camp will not only teach kids the science behind the rock groups, but have ways to incorporate technology, engineering, art, and math into your lessons.

Here is our weekly plan:

Make Something STEAMy Monday: (art project/fun treat/iMovie/etc) centered around STEAM

Take a Trip Tuesday: a day we can take a STEAM centered field trip

Wednesday: Worksheet (I just had to sneak in one day of paper and pencil work) and work on an Engineering Challenge. I made a letter template so the challenges could be done with friends who live far away.

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Engineering Challenge idea

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STEAM Engineering Challenge Letter template

Thursday and Friday: STEAM camp

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Sample STEAM camp idea sheet

Science Saturday with Daddy

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Science Saturday ideas

I am uploading my plans on Teachers Pay Teachers. Feel free to download and let me know what you think! There are also lots of STEAM based activities that can be found in many communities. Check your local library… many libraries will have science activities that go along with their summer reading programs. I also know of communities that have “Arts in the Park” or “Science in the Park” activities. If you live in the Salt Lake area, The Leonardo Museum downtown will be opening up some children exhibits in a few weeks based on STEAM learning…. I am thrilled!!!! And if all else fails, host your own camps! Your neighbors will love you :)

Happy STEAMing!

Magical Tooth Fairy Door

Before my daughter lost her first tooth I knew that I wanted to do something to make this experience magical.  I wasn’t quite sure what I would do until I was browsing instagram and saw Molly Moo’s darling little Fairy Door. It was childhood magic at it’s finest and I knew it was the perfect entrance for our fairy friend.

I ran to Hobby Lobby and found a dollhouse door. After painting it white I put it in an envelope along with a special note from the tooth fairy. I debated having the door just magically show up the night she lost her tooth- but then I decided it was more fun to set up the door together and build up the anticipation of her visit. We decided to set the door on the molding of Boo’s closet. This way, if she happened to change bedrooms, we could easily move the door. And it was out of reach of two mischevious dogs who have been known to be a bit destructive. :) And then, after weeks of hanging loosely in her mouth, the tooth came out. I should mention that Boo actually pulled it out with a little support from her cousin via FaceTime. That night- after reading books from our Tooth Fairy bag and putting the tooth in a special pocket of a tooth pillow I made- the tooth fairy came to visit. When Boo woke up- she was surprised not only by the golden coin left in her tooth pillow but that the Tooth Fairy (lovingly named Sugar Plum) had sparkled her door with fairy glitter. Just part of the magic my friends. Hope this inspires the magic in being a mom!

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We love our pink fairy door!

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Happy Teaching!

Tooth Pillow

I saw these tooth pillows on Pinterest and decided to make one for my daughter. I am not the best sewer- but I love that my kiddo has a special place to put her teeth so the tooth fairy can easily find them! I put this inside of our Tooth Fairy Bag so those nights Boo loses teeth we are ready to go and know right where to find our little pillow!

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I love the cute little heart pocket for the tooth.

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Happy Teaching!

Tooth Fairy Bag

Just a quick little post to show you how I organized my daughter’s “tooth stuff” so we were ready when she lost a tooth! I found a nice brown gift bag from the dollar store and glued a large tooth on it. So fancy, right? Inside the bag I added some of our children’s books about teeth as well as the tooth pillow I made for Boo. I love that everything tooth-ish is all together so when my daughter lost a tooth we are ready to go!

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Happy Teaching!

Garden Light Night Light

Last year I went to a neighborhood emergency preparedness meeting. The focus of that meeting was learning about different light sources that were available when electricity isn’t available. It was a very informative meeting- but the take-away idea for me was using solar powered garden lights as a night light for your child. Not only is it something that your child can use every night now- but if an emergency happens your kiddos have a solar powered light source. No need to worry about finding batteries for the flashlight!  (Shout out to Anna Jeffs for the idea!)

I originally thought I would have to purchase a light and place it in a flower pot. But I went to Lowes and was thrilled to find the perfect solar powered light. Why? No corners or sharp edges (after taking out the garden stake part of course). My daughter could hold it at night and I wouldn’t have to worry about her getting poked with sharp corners. I LOVE it!

See how it sits so nicely on her nightstand?

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The entire nightlight comes apart- as you can see no sharp corners!

 

 

 

 

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And it stays lit for a few hours- depending on how much sunlight it picks up during the day. You could stick the entire garden light outside in the morning and by evening the light will be ready to go. I like to take the top off and place it in the window- just make sure the part with the solar panel strip is facing outside.

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There you have it- a bright night light that is safe for kiddos to hold and is perfect when the power goes out at night. Yay!

Happy Teaching!

 

DIY Seasonal Table Board

This was a fun family project that- while it isn’t necessarily teacher related- I just had to share!

I saw this beautiful wood plank dining table runner on Pinterest. I would love to give credit to the person who came up with this idea but unfortunately the link takes you to one of those sites that takes pictures from other bloggers without giving credit. :/

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My husband ran to Lowes, found a board (I told him to get the most distressed looking one he could find!) and had it cut to the length of our dining table. He also found a beautiful mahogany stain that we used on the board. I saw various sites online that showed how to distress a board with nails and other tools- I wasn’t brave enough to try their methods in fear of splitting the board or something else disastrous. We found burlap at Hobby Lobby, candles at various stores (including the Dollar Tree!), pinecones and various items from decorations we already owned, and put it all together. I love the way it looks!

I took the idea and decided that this was something that I could modify for all seasons. Here is what we came up!

Fall/Thanksgiving (October and November): Imagine how cool it would look with black and orange candles for Halloween! 

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Christmas (December):

red and green

Winter (January): My personal favorite :)

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Valentines Day (February):

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St. Patricks Day (March):

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You might be wondering what are my plans for Spring and Summer- at this point I have no clue but I will share them with you when I think of something!

Happy Creating!

Alphabet Book: Free Printable

A couple years ago I had a Book Themed Baby Shower for my sister in law. I have been getting a lot of people requesting the pdf of the ABC book I made (THANKS!) and thought I would share it with you all in a post.

This is a printable that you can use to make any type of alphabet book- its not just for baby showers! Imagine the possibilities- “The ABC’s of Our Family” with all family members picking a letter (or two) and writing a word that starts with that letter to describe their family. Wouldn’t that be such a fun family night activity? If you are a teacher you could use this pdf to make class books such as “Animal ABCs”, “ABCs of Reading (or Math, Science, any subject!)”, or “26 Reasons Our Class Shines- Our Classroom Alphabet Book”. Seriously the possibilities are endless!

Feel free to download our ABC pages- Enjoy and Happy Teaching!

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