My TpT Store

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Why Isn't There Candy in Your Easter Basket?!

I thought I'd take a break from my traditional posts to bring you a lighthearted and seasonally timely post.

First, I'd like to mention that I will not be putting candy in my son's basket.  Not because I don't believe in some good, old-fashioned sugar overload, but because I can promise you that he will be receiving an overdose of chocolaty goodness from many of the other adults in his life.  So, I'll be sticking to the playful gifts we can use for when he has reached his sugar peak and his ultimate sugar crash.

So, what will be in his soccer ball basket?
~Monkeys in a Barrel (Easter egg style, of course)!
~Pastel Play-Doh
~Easter Weeble Wabbles:  I was soooo excited when I found these.  I haven't seen Weebles in forever, and here I had found Easter Weebles!
~Easter Dominoes
~A rain stick (maybe not Easter specific, but it was a dollar and Easter colored, I guess)

What's in your Easter basket?  Don't be afraid to tell me it's candy.  There won't be any judging of hating on your for that, no way!  Just feel free to share!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Light Box Activities for Learning and Playing

Searching for an activity that offers the ability to review reading, writing, and math while also appealing to kids' senses?  How about a fun sensory station for your Fun Friday/PAT time or a rainy day activity?  Then you want to check out this post on using the light box to play and teach!

Before I begin my post I want to share that I read many things about DIY light boxes, and the bottom line is that they are not really safe.  They can damage eyes if they lights used are too bright, and they pose a safety hazard for younger children if they are opened accidentally.  It was after reading these things that I decided on this Crayola Light Up Tracing Pad. It got good reviews online and it was compact enough to store when not in use.

There are so many educational, yet fun, activities that can be done with a light box or table. Below are some of my favorites. 

1. Trace numbers, letters, and shapes on top of a gel sensory bag.  You can read more about how to create a gel sensory bag in this post.  

For older children: You can also place worksheets beneath the bag, like in the picture below.  Think of it like a dry-erase board with a sensory benefit.

2.  Roll out Play-Doh in a clear container and use cookie cutters.  
For younger children, this can be as simple as letters, numbers, and shapes.

For older children:  Have them create number sentences/equations with the numbers, spell out words with the letters, or create patterns.

3.  Put translucent objects on the light table and have the child match colors, sizes, or quantities. I spread the pieces of this pill sorter out and gave my son some plastic reusable ice cubes from the Dollar Tree and plastic eggs to match to them by color.  To add some fine motor practice, I gave him tongs designed for catching bugs with which to pick up and sort the objects. The bug catcher is part of this fine motor set

For older children:  Have them practice writing out the colors and shapes as they identify and sort them. 

4. Put an I-Spy bag on the light table for discovery of objects/letters.  You can read more about how I made my I-Spy bag by clicking here.  Younger children can verbalize what they see.  My son loves using it almost like a rain stick, just turning it over to listen to the rice filter through the objects.

Older children: Practice writing out the words on paper or dry-erase boards as the objects are found. 

5.  Use discovery bottles for letter/word recognition.

For older children: Give them flash cards with words on them. Have them find the letters needed to spell the words on the cards. Have them write out the words as they find the letters in the discovery bottle.

What's on my light box wish list?  
In the future, I would love to build structures or do division/ multiplication problems with these translucent Prism Bases and Prism Blocks that resemble see-through Duplo Blocks.  We can also use them to talk about area and perimeter.

What are your must-haves for your light box?  I'd love to hear what activities you do for playing and learning!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I-Spy Colors and Sight and Color Words Bag

I was in search of an activity or busy bag that teaches sight and color words. After searching around the house, I realized I already had all or most of what it takes to make one!

With a little prep work, I had a bag that is:
Simple (not a ton of parts to get lost or confuse young children)
All parts that are small enough to be swallowed or lost are sealed inside *
*I would recommend close supervision for children 3 and under in case they manage to rip it open. 

View from the front of the bag. 

Here are the materials:
A glue gun
White rice
*Optional* Food coloring mixed with Kool-Aid and hot water. Find out more on how to dye rice by clicking here.
Clear pencil pouch with a zipper
Alphabet letters of various colors
Shapes of various colors
Plastic toys of various colors
Dry-Erase marker or grease pencil


1.  *Optional* I dyed the rice and added it to the pouch.  Click here to see the directions I used to do this.  This really makes the contents stand out. The white rice is okay for this, but the colored rice did a much better job of highlighting the other colors, in my opinion. 

2.  I put my bits and bobs into the pencil pouch. 

I-Spy Bag Contents

1. Purple Flower
2. Blue Flower
3. Green Flower
4. Pink Flower
5. Orange Square
6. Green Triangle
7. Yellow Lizard
8. Red Snake
9. Black Snake
10. Green Frog
11. Yellow Button
12. Red Letter e
13. Orange Letter m
14. Yellow Letter n
15. White Letter o
16. Blue Letter q
17. Pink Letter k
18. Green Letter 
19. Purple Letter r
20. White Letter f

3.  *Optional for older children or emerging readers* Print up the list and attach it to the bag and seal it using packing tape on both sides of the paper.  Punch a hole in the corner of the paper and attach the list to one of the holes already in the bottom of the pouch using a small binder ring. You could also laminate the list if the packing tape is too slick to write on.  The tape/laminate makes it a perfect surface for either a dry-erase crayon/marker or a grease pencil. That comes in handy for marking off what has already been found in the bag. 

4.  Finally, I sealed the zipper shut with a thick line of hot glue

Viola!  You've got yourself an almost-instant educational busy bag or station activity!

Do you use I-Spy bags or bottles?  I'm interested in learning how you put them to use for fun and learning!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Teacher Time-Saver at Home: Harris Teeter Express Lane

I want to share one thing that has saved me countless hours of my personal time over the past year: Harris Teeter Express Lane!  I can be done with my entire week's grocery shopping, from start to finish, in about 30 minutes.  That includes shopping for the food and having it loaded into my car!  As you can imagine, this frees me up to do other things I need to do, such as grading papers and actually spending time with my family.

How does it work, you ask? Well, very smoothly and easily! And by the way, I am not being paid in anyway to advertise this feature. I just love it because it has really been a lifesaver!  

First, I recommend downloading either the Apple or Google Harris Teeter app.

With just a few clicks, I can order everything I need online in about 10 minutes. The app saves my common grocery choices so when I start typing the name, I quickly have those choices available.

One of the other great things about it is that you schedule a date and time for pick up.  Need to pick up on a Friday afternoon between three and 330? No problem! Just select the time you need, and The store will have it ready for you when you roll up for pick up.

What are your time-savers at home that help you focus on school?  I'm always looking for more!