Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Counting Money Activities

Let's face it...there are TONS of mathematic concepts that we've been taught,  which we can honestly say we have NEVER used in our everyday lives, nor ever use them in the future! I mean, who can say they've ever had to use the Pythagorean theorem or know the square root of anything in their adult lives? I mean this as no offense whatsoever to all of the math teachers in the world and give them tons of credit for all they do. I am simply leading into some activities that I have used for my students to enforce a math concept that will constantly be used in the future...concepts of money! As a teacher of special needs students, these are crucial life skills that will be used their entire lives and are far more beneficial to this population than exponents, angles, and other, more abstract concepts. Here are some activities to use at home or in a classroom for students of varying ability levels to teach concepts of money...

Practice sorting coins using fake money and small cups
Label envelopes with specific dollar amounts and have students place the correct amount of faux dollar bills in each envelope
Practice combining coins to create the amount written on each envelope (I always include a picture of the item they are "purchasing" to empahsize the fact that money allows us to buy the things we want)

I would loooove to hear ideas you all have for helping your students and children understand concepts of money. Let me know!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Back to School Cash Giveaway!!!


Its back to school time! Are you ready? In case your answer is a resounding "no," you have come to the right place! I'm teaming up with lots of awesome bloggers to give away 3 (that's right...THREE) cash prizes of $200 to help you with your shopping! Simply enter using the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win! Good luck!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Monarch Party

My mother has put her heart and soul into teaching for 35 years, so we knew that, for her retirement party, we had to go big or go home. The theme of the party was easy to come up with, as mom spent the last 10 years of her teaching career raising monarch butterflies to show her students its life cycle and quickly became obsessed with everything monarch.

I wanted the students of her school to be a part of the party, so we were able to have each classroom decorate monarch butterflies of varying shapes and sizes that we used for centerpieces and decorations. The centerpieces were very simple, as we filled Mason jars with green raffia, tied orange ribbon to the top and filled the jar with a few branches. We then cut two small slits in each paper butterfly and attached them to the branches. We then sprinkled other butterflies the students had decorated over each of the tables and used what remained for the walls.

As you can see, we left no butterfly behind and had them EVERYWHERE for the party! Like I said...go big or go home!

We used the stage of the auditorium to display former yearbooks, class pictures, and student work over mom's years of teaching and the screen above for a powerpoint show.

Another big element of the party were stations set up in honor of the other themes that mom had used in her classroom over the years. Each year, her second graders read the book Stone Soup and then brought in ingredients to make it themselves. Each student brought a different ingredient for everyone to enjoy. In homage to this tradition, my sister purchased the adorable bowl below that was decorated by a friend of hers for mom to have as a keepsake.

In addition, we also printed out Stone Soup ingredients and encouraged everyone at the party to chose an ingredient and write down on it what they suggest she should do in her retirement. The pieces will eventually be placed into a scrapbook for mom to keep, along with some of the other souvenirs from her party.
A second station we included gave guests the opportunity to write messages to mom that we would put into her "retirement yearbook," complete with pictures from the Powerpoint show we displayed of mom's teaching career from past to present. The third was a play on the 100th day of school tradition that mom has done for years, in which students place 100 fingerprints onto t-shirts that they wear on (you guessed it!) the 100th day. Each former student in attendance at the party was instructed to place a fingerprint and their name on a t-shirt we had created out of foam board to be proudly displayed for years to come.

My family looooooves the opportunity to use ridiculous props and use them for even more ridiculous photos, so the idea of a photo booth at the party was a no-brainer! My awesomely artistic sister-in-law, Tiffany created a beaver (did I mention my mom was "Mrs. Beaver?"), a bulldog (her school's mascot) and a monarch butterfly out of foam board to use as props!

Photo booth models mom (left) and her sisters Rene (left, center), Rita (right, center) and Julie (right)

A huge congratulations to my amazing mother, who is an incredible educator and human being. She has enriched the lives of many and I know will approach this next chapter of her life with open arms and a tenacity to never stop educating. We love you, mom! Congratulations on your retirement!!!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chalkboard Frisbee-Air Mail

I'm taking part in an awesome Kids' Crafts Summer Camp series, courtesy of Randi and her blog Sowdering About, along with a crew of other, awesome bloggers. Given four choices of possible materials, I immediately chose "chalkboard," as I have a bit of an obsession with EVERYTHING chalky! One of my favorite summer activities is tossing a frisbee. Its the perfect summer toy...you can take it anywhere easily, play with it in large and small groups, and adults, kids and pets alike love them! Pair that with the fact that I found Americana's clear chalkboard coating on my most recent trip to Michael's, which allows any painted object to become a chalkboard, and I've found my project! In a few, short steps, kids can transform their frisbees into chalkboard score keepers, message boards, and anything their little, creative hearts desire! Here's how...


-acrylic paint
-clear chalkboard coating
-wet paper towel


1. Paint a thin layer of acrylic paint on the top of the frisbee. After the paint has dried, paint 1-2 additional coats of acrylic paint.

2. Once the acrylic paint has completely dried, paint a layer of clear, chalkboard coating over the acrylic paint. 

3. Once the coating has dried completely, it is time to start writing! I found that chalk markers work more successfully than regular chalk, but both are   
    options. Use the chalk to keep score, write messages, and tell jokes (just to name a few).

Chalk can be removed with a sponge or wet paper towel, which will dry very quickly for reuse!

I would LOVE to see pictures of the chalkboard frisbees you create and all of the creative ways you've come up with to use them! Here's hoping this is your best summer yet!!!

Check out the rest of the Campers for this Summer Craft Camp!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Questions to Ask Grandparents Journal

I have the extreme fortune of having all four of my wonderful grandparents alive and well. They are some of the most incredible people I have ever met, and my life has been so blessed as a result of them and all that they have taught me. The stories that they have shared with me over the years are those of love, strife, perseverance and family. In order to ensure that I remember their stories long after they are gone and can share them with my children and my children's children, I have put together journals filled with questions that I had my grandparents each fill out (note: you could definitely complete the journal in an interview fashion where you write in the answers, but there is something about seeing my grandparents' handwriting that I truly will cherish forever).

I gathered some questions from various suggestions online, along with information I knew I wanted to gain more specific to my grandparents. Here is the list the questions I put together...

What is your birthdate/place?

What is your mother's full name? What are some details about her?

What is your father's full name? What are some details about him?

What are the names of your siblings?

What is your family origin?

What was/is your favorite color?

What were some of your activities in childhood?

Did you have any pets? What were they?

What were/are your hobbies then and now?

Where did you grow up?

What was your education?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

What are some of the jobs you've had?

How did the two of you meet?

When were you engaged? How did the proposal happen?

When were you married? Where? What was the wedding like?

Where was your honeymoon?

What countries have you visited?

Did you spend any time in the military?

What are your favorite foods?

What is your fondest memory of childhood?

What was life like when you were growing up?

What was your favorite toy to play with as a child?

How much did things cost when you were growing up?

Were you named after anyone?

What inventions do you remember growing up?

What did your parents do for a living?

How did you determine the names of your children?

As you look back on your life, what significant world events do you remember most?

What advice to you have to give to future generations?

My intent is to eventually copy these answers into a photo book, along with pics of my grandparents from birth to present for a family keepsake.