Three Ways to De-Stress Your Interactive Notebook Experience

Have you wanted to try interactive notebooks, but you feel that it would add too much stress to your life or at least too much work on your part? I have three hints that will help you to use interactive notebooks in your classroom or home.

#1. Use color paper to print off your activities. Part of the fun of interactive notebooks is that they are very colorful, but with colorful comes a lot of coloring. Some coloring is great, but too much gets old in my mind and also limits the time you spend on actually learning the topic. So, print off the pages on colorful paper. If you don’t have any, perhaps you can ask parents for some on your annual wishlist at the beginning of the school year.

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#2. Have your students do the work as homework. There can be a lot of cutting in interactive notebooks. This could be used as part of their homework. If working with little pieces I suggest sending home some sandwich bags so they can store the pieces in them.

destress your interactive notebook adventure

#3. Pick and choose the activities you use in your interactive notebooks wisely. You don’t need to do every activity in an interactive notebook packet you buy. Try using the ones with less work for you, but still really bring home the practice they are intended for.

Interested in looking at interactive notebooks, check here: Interactive Notebooks – Math, Reading, Writing, Grammar and Social Studies

Five ways camping benefits kids

There’s something magical about camping. Being away from it all in a remote location, with no TV, no Internet, no modern conveniences. Of course, some of the reasons camping is appealing are also reasons that it can be difficult… sometimes the romance of camping is more fun than the reality of mosquitos, lumpy tent floors, and lack of a toilet!

Still, camping is not without its benefits, especially for kids! Here are some of them:

Paudash Lake sunset

1. Kids learn about nature by being surrounded by it

It’s one thing to learn about nature in a school classroom. But it’s quite another thing to be surrounded by nature in a beautiful setting. Lots of different types of lessons can be taught outdoors – biology, botany, geology, meteorology – the list goes on. And lessons taught in such a session are likely to be better retained.

2. Kids learn to care for themselves outdoors

When there’s no fridge, microwave, or even running water on hand, kids will have to learn other ways to eat, drink, and take care of themselves. They will likely have to be taught, of course – but adults can certainly show kids how to cook food over an open fire or treat or boil water to make it safe for consumption. Such lessons are fun to learn, and might come in handy in the future – especially if there is a zombie apocalypse.

3. Kids learn to respect life

There is lots of life outdoors – plants, animals, insects, birds. By being outdoors, kids are having a sleepover in the homes of more of nature’s creatures. Children will learn to respect the environment and the various ecosystems they are exploring. Parents and teachers should of course encourage this by showing how to make a minimal impact on the areas they are camping in.

4. Kids learn outdoor safety

Outdoor safety is a useful skill even when you are not camping in remote locations. It’s good to know that you shouldn’t eat those berries or those mushrooms, that you shouldn’t touch that spider, that you shouldn’t dive into a strange lake or pond. Kids can learn that while the outdoors is your friend, it is also a wild and potentially dangerous place. Respect should be given.

5. Kids learn cooperation

If you’ve ever tried to pitch a tent by yourself, you know how difficult that can be! It’s much easier to work together to get things accomplished outdoors. Cooperation while camping is very important when it comes to setting up, searching for food, cooking, playing, or cleaning up after an outdoor adventure. Children can learn how important cooperation is outdoors and take these lessons back home or to the school classroom.

And here’s a bonus reason… it is beautiful out there! And there are plenty of amazing places outdoors all over the world where you can take children to experience the beauty of nature.

If you’re going camping this summer, have fun and stay safe!

Another Day, Another Country – Thailand!

It’s so much fun to continue my Around the World Summer! Today’s country is Thailand!!! My children and I had fun learning all about Thailand together. We used my printables, but we also looked online to find random fun facts about Thailand too. We’ve decided after all of our studying that we’d like to learn more about the beaches in Thailand and perhaps one day we will visit there!

My son is super obsessed with Orchids. Sadly, we have bought many and we have killed many. I don’t know what it is, but we can’t seem to keep them alive. I’ve found that the easiest way for him to get his orchid fix is to learn about them on the internet, or use printables that I’ve made like this one. Also, going to the Mexican area of Epcot during the Garden Festival allows him to see many without us having to keep them alive. Here’s a picture he colored of a Thai species of orchid.

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We all learned a lot about the similarities and differences between our country of the USA and Thailand. The neat thing about the way the printables are worded, is that you can use them with any country you happen to live in. One of the big differeneces we found is that 95% of people from Thai are Buddhists. We were both intrigued.

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Let’s see which countries are in store for next time…

To have a closer look at my Thailand printables check here: Thailand Country Study

Learning about Portugal

I love learning everything I can about different countries. Today I taught my daughter about Portugal. We read a letter from a boy from Portugal and it explained how his life was in Portugal. She learned basic facts, did a crossword puzzle and a word search and she wrote about what she learned. Her favorite parts were the crafts that she did. She loved to color a traditional Portuguese rooster that is seen in lots of Portuguese arts and crafts. After she colored it, we mounted it on construction paper and hung it on our around the world wall. It’s growing so much over these last few months.

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The part of the packet that teachers will love the most are the writing activities. Comparison and contrasting, as well as writing about what they’ve learned. I’ll also tell you that your students will forever know the Portuguese flag after they have colored it and seen it throughout the packet.

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Check out my Portugal printables here: Portugal Country Study

How Much Homework Should You Give?

Have you ever wondered how much homework you should give? Should you give math homework every day? Reading homework every other day? Maybe just some on the weekend? I’m a kind of middle of the road person when it comes to home. I think it’s good to have some homework so it can reinforce what students have learned in class, but I’m not big on 2 hours of homework a night. When we lived in France several times my son would have 3 or more hours of homework and he would be in tears. :( I just hated to see him hate school merely becasue of homework. So, I think it’s better to have some, but not too much. Maybe 15 to 30 mins at the most. I also don’t think it has to be every single night.

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My homework packets have just enough work to help your students review what they’ve learned in class. I also like them because they have math as well as language arts on one page.

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Some teachers like to save paper and when they use my homework packet, they make copies double sided and then cut the paper in half and give half of a piece of a paper for homework.

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Here are a few comments about my Homework packet:
“I really love this packet. Fast and easy to check.”
“I love your homework bundles! I already have the 2nd grade one and I’m so excited to use the 3rd grade one this year. They are so versatile! Thanks!”
“Not only great for homework but a quick assessment and exit slip.”
“Quick homework page to supplement regular homework that reviews common core skills. Excellent!”

Want to see more? Check out my different grade level homework packets:
Homework for Kindergarten

Homework for First Grade

Homework for Second Grade

Homework for Third Grade

Homework for Fourth Grade

Homework for Fifth Grade

Homework for Sixth Grade Math

STEM – Reflection

This is the last step in the Design Process for STEM. Reflecting is often overlooked due to time constraints, but it is probably the most important step in learning. It’s always good for students to center in for what they do well, but also pinpoint exactly what they need to work on to grow as a person. That is why I like to use two hearts and a wish, where I ask the students to think of a thing they did well, followed by something they could’ve improved upon and because it is always nice to end on a positive note, we finished this design process with a second thing that they did well.

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When my nephews built their apple schoolhouse, they were really disappointed with thee final product, although I thought it looked great! So, they decided to take more time, reflect on it and create a new one. Here’s their first attempt:

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They decided that they didn’t like the way the roof looked, so they built it the second time without using the paperpalte as the roof. Here’s their final product.

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Do you think reflection is necessary in learning? Leave a comment and let me know.

To check out my STEM projects, click here: Back to School STEM Challenges
October STEM Challenges

Three Tips for Using Interactive Notebooks in Your Classroom

If you follow my blog or store, you know that I love interactive notebooks. Here are three tips that you can use to make your life easier when using interactive notebooks.

1. If you buy an interactive notebook packet, don’t feel like you have to use everything in the packet. It’s okay to just pick and choose and use the activities out of order.

2. Make your own sample interactive notebook before school starts. I know your time is limited, but if you are like me, I’m sure you have a few TVs shows you follow. Why not make your interactive notebook while you’re watching TV. Just print out a few pages before your show starts and color, cut and paste while you are relaxing. Just pretend it’s one of those adult coloring books and it will actually be quite relaxing for you.

3. Add a ribbon to each of your students’ notebooks to use as a bookmark. This will save them time from having to flip and flip until they get to the section that they are working on.

Be on the lookout for more tips for using interactive notebooks in future posts!

interactive notebook

Kindergarten Interactive Math Notebook

1st Grade Interactive Math Notebook

2nd Grade Interactive Math Notebook

3rd Grade Interactive Math Notebook

4th Grade Interactive Math Notebook

5th Grade Interactive Math Notebook

6th Grade Interactive Math Notebook

7th Grade Interactive Math Notebook

8th Grade Interactive Math Notebook

Algebra Interactive Math Notebook

Pajama Summer Day

I have to admit it’s fun to wear Pjs all day long sometimes. Today was one of those days. My daughter felt like one of those days too. She loves my new Pokemon Go Inspired printables so who better to do printables with than her own pooch!

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I have to admit, I’m really glad she is doing some school work with very little prodding from me this summer. She’s not only working on her math skills, but she’s been doing a summer reading program with our local library. Make sure to see if your library has a summer reading program, they are so motivational! Today she read about 1.5 hours.

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Sometimes when I give her more freedom, she really takes it and run. I’m not saying that kids get to make all decisions, but it’s really nice to have her actually chose which of my math products she wants to work on. She really enjoys coloring the little graphics too.

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I’ve heard of reading service dogs who help students read by keeping their paws on the pages and really engaging the students with the book. I kind of think my dog is a bit of a math service dog. My daughter really could just sit there and do math for a long time with our little Lilou next to her.

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Have a great summer and enjoy your own pajama day!

Russia Country Study

Today I wanted to show you a little about my Russia Country Study printables. It’s a great set to introduce your students to Russia. They can even learn a little Russian as well.

All of my individual country packets have a letter written from a child from that particular country, fast facts, a crossword puzzle, word search, post card writing activity, comparison writing activity, crafts and more! Here is the ‘All About Russia page’ that your students can fill out while they are learning about Russi or you can use it as an assessment to see how much they learned about Russia.

Russia Country Study

My favorite activty of this packet is the Nesting Dolls (Matryoshka) craft. Students can create their own designs for the dolls or use the provided design.

Russia Country Study

They each sit on a ring of paper and can stand up.

Russia Country Study

They actually can nest inside of one another as well.

Russia Country Study

Russia Country Study

If you’d like more information about my Russia printables, click here: Russia Country Study

STEM – The Testing Phase

I really have enjoyed having a STEM filled summer! It’s so great to see my children, nephews and niece really get into science, especially the whole design process. It was awesome to see their projects come to life! The hardest STEM project we had was to build a piece of playground equipment. My nephew was a little frustrated because what he wanted to design didn’t work. Or it would work for a second and then fall down. We had to do a lot of testing and revisions to help his project work at last! Here you can see it!

STEM - The Testing Phase

I really liked using the journal aspect of STEM design because it allows students to have a little quiet time and really think about what they are trying to accomplish. Here’s a sample page of the journal for the Testing Phase.

STEM - The Testing Phase

Here is one of the two apple school houses that they made.

STEM - The Testing Phase

I loved the testing phase of my oldest nephew’s backpack. His test was to make sure it was wearable. Because he said, “Why build a backpack if it isn’t functional?” This STEM project was a complete success.

STEM - The Testing Phase

If you’d like to add some STEM into your classroom, check out: STEM Center Challenges – Back to School STEAM