Give Away!

 It's Giveaway time!  I want to thank all of you!  See below for your chance to win $25 to my TpT store!  You have 3 chances to win! You can win on my blog, my Instagram, or on my Facebook page!  



Virtual Learning Tips for Parents


In my last post, Tips for Teachers for Virtual Learning, I gave tips that teachers could use to help with virtual learning.  The tips help both teachers and students.  However, I feel that there are tips that parents can do at home to help as well.  I am sharing these tips as both a teacher and a parent who is participating in virtual learning right now.  In my district, we have been back to school with fully virtual learning for a week and a half.  Here are some tips for you, as parents, that I think you will find helpful:

1. Have a designated space for your child to learn.  In school, students have their own space at their desk or table.  I'm not saying you should go out and buy a desk, but if you already have one or want to purchase one, by all means use it.  There are some great options available for desks too.  They even make folding desks that you can put away (like the foldable tables) when you're done using them.  Otherwise, find a space for your child to use that is set up for him or her and that they know it is "their school space".  I think you'll find that this is helpful because it will be the place they know to go "for school". Here's a folding desk that looks nice and is easily stored:

2. Print your child's teacher's schedule.  Have it next to your child.  Having a schedule is something that I recommended for teachers.  Having it available for your child will benefit both you and your child.  Children thrive off of predictable routines.  When they have their schedule visible, it helps them know how their day will go and what comes next.  It provides structure.  I would also recommend laminating it if you have access to a laminator.  If not, Amazon has some inexpensive options that are great.  I personally have an Amazon brand laminator at home and love it.  Here it is:

3. Provide opportunities for your child to release some energy.  Even while your child is working, there are some great products out there to help them maintain focus.  For starters, fidgets.  There are a HUGE variety of fidgets out there.  Not every kind works for every kid.  They are usually relatively inexpensive, so get a few and find the one that works for your child.  Here are a few ideas that I use with both my own children and with the students that I support.


Along with those fidgets, I also recommend a wobble seat cushion.  It has air inside and provides some core engagement, but also some sensory.  Here's the one that I have:

Another thing I recommend, and my own children have, are stationary bikes under their desk.  It gives them a chance for their feet to move, while sitting still.  This can help enhance focus.  Kickbands are also another great option. 

5. Provide opportunities for screen-free activities.  When the school day is over, or if you get a break in the middle, have your child engage in some activities that are off of the screens (computer/TV).  Help your child to be active.  Go outside and get some fresh air.  Draw with chalk or do bubbles. Go for a walk.  Do a nature scavenger hunt.  Play board games.  Have fun together!  *Board games need their own post, so look for that one in the near future!

6. Take some time to teach your children buttons that they will need to click for their classes.  Teach them how to use basic computer skills/functions.  This will help them navigate during their class.  It will also help create and encourage independence.  If they are relying on you for each and every step throughout this process, it can be much harder on them and you in the long run.  

7. Be patient.  Being in school virtually and being in school virtually are two different things.  It's OKAY if it's not perfect.  Just try your best.   Give yourself and your child time to get used to this new way of learning.  Don't stress if it doesn't go exactly as planned. 



Teacher Tips for Virtual Learning



This year will certainly be different.  Different may mean that it's a change from how we are used to having our classes and seeing our students.  However, it will be the same in many ways too.  As educators, we always have the opportunity to teach students.  Be it in person or virtually.  You can inspire your students from a distance too. 

With that said, I want to share some things that will help make distance learning a little smoother for you and your students.

1. Make sure you have a schedule with a predictable routine.  This will help you and your students stay on track and will also provide structure for your students' day.  Just like when we are in the brick and mortar school building where there is a schedule, an online schedule should be used to help the flow of the school day and help your students to know what comes next.  Whether your day will be the same length, bell to bell like when in the building, or shortened hours, create a schedule that will work for you.  I would also recommend that your students have access to the schedule.  It is up to their parents to display it for them, but having it next to them where they can see is very beneficial.

2. Breaks also need to be built into your schedule.  Sitting for long periods of time is HARD.  It is hard for you and super hard for your students. Both you and your students will need them. Breaks that get your students moving are even better! GoNoodle.com is free and has a huge variety of brain breaks that get you moving! Some of their videos are silly and students absolutely love them! I'll admit that the songs get stuck in my head too.  Hahaha...you'll see!

3. Help your students (and their parents) become familiar with the site and with the expectations of virtual learning.  There will be buttons for your students to click throughout the day and it would be beneficial to practice navigating.  It will boost independence in your students if they are able to navigate the site themselves and will help the day go smoother too.  

4. Class Rewards are always fun and within virtual learning, they may be different, but your students will still love them! You can have them earn points, virtual tokens, virtual gumballs, etc., and give the class "prizes" when they reach the goal.  Some virtual prizes can include having a virtual dance party, choose a story for you to read aloud or as a virtual story, choose a brain break video, no homework for the day, extra recess time, talk time, online game, et cetera.

5. VISUALS! I'm sure you've heard the saying, "'Visuals speak louder than words."  It's true.  Words can become redundant and students can "tune you out".  Using visuals can help you achieve the desired outcome, while limiting the verbal prompting.  Click here (or the picture below) to go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and get a visual pack that I created for both online and in-person teaching.

Here's a picture of what's included in the visual resource.


I hope this post helps you plan for your virtual instruction.  YOU can do it!  Your students are lucky to have you! I hope you have a GREAT year!









All About Me Freebie!



All About Me activities are a great way to start the year off with your students.  Students get the opportunity to share information and important details about themselves with you and their classmates and give you insight into their life.  It's a fun, yet important activity to get to know your students.  I always think it's fun for the teacher to do too!

I've created this FREE All About Me activity to help you get to know your students.  You can get your copy by clicking on the image and it will take you to my store to download it for free.  I have included both printable and digital versions in both color and black/white.  This way, even if you're teaching virtually, you have the option to use the activity with your students.  

I hope you enjoy the All About Me activity and have a super year!  Happy Back to School!  :) 


Rainbow Bead Coasters & Sun Catchers


This is such a fun and simple craft for children (and adults!) that also incorporates fine motor skills.

All you need is:

1. Pony Beads in any variety of colors (the clear colored ones make good sun catchers)

2. Small Cake Pans (4 inch diameter for coasters)


Here are links to products like I used on Amazon:


                                     

Here's the steps.  They're simple to follow.

First, place beads inside the mini cake pans.  You can either place them in a pattern, or just put them all in and fill the bottom.  Either way will work just fine.





Once the mini cake pans are filled (only the bottom layer), then place them in the oven.  I used a toaster oven and it did not need to be preheated.  You could also use a conventional oven.  The temperature is 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.  


Here's what they looked like when I first took them out of the toaster oven.


Once they cool, you can just flip the mini cake pans over and they pop right out.  They are then hard as plastic again and will make excellent coasters or sun catchers, depending on what type of beads you used.





Fine Motor Fun

Fine Motor Fun!


Fine motor or small muscle work is extremely important to build in children. It involves coordinating the finger and hand muscles with the eyes.  Developing fine motor skills can help improve strength in hand muscles, which helps prevent children from fatigue when writing and can also help improve handwriting.

I love using toys, games and other fun activities to incorporate fine motor skills.  You will find that when you use the "fun stuff" that your students (or your own children) will love it too!  I've gathered together a few of my favorite things to work on fine motor skills.  I don't have them in a particular order, but I love them all!  I've also included things that would work well for a variety of ages.

Here's a little info for everything.  They're in no particular order...I like them all equally lol.  You can click the link/pictures to read more info or to purchase on Amazon.

1. Super Duper, Inc. Fine Motor Box - has ideas and activities for fine motor work.



2. Therapy Putty is GREAT for all ages.  It's like play dough and slime combined and comes in a variety of firmness levels.



3. Cat's Cradle Kit - Great for your older kiddos that need some fine motor work.  I remember playing with this as a kid and it is sooo much fun!  Who knew I'd grow up and use it as a tool to help children!



4. Mosaic Pegs- These are reusable. Great for younger students.  The pegs pop into the matching color and you can pop them out when you're done.



5. String and Beads - Great for younger children.  Students lace the beads onto the string.  This one is also reusable.  If you want to adapt this for older students, you can get string and pony beads from the craft store and have them make bracelets.  My daughter loves doing this!



6. Magnetic Puzzles - They come with a magnetic wand/pend that is attached to a string. They also come in a variety of learning activities, such as the alphabet, numbers, color sorting, etc. Great for younger students.

7. Sensory and Fine Motor Combined!! - Water beads with scissor style scoopers.  Fun for most ages!



8. Lite Brite - Fun fine motor activities created by making pictures that light up!  Fun for most ages, but the pieces are very small so younger children will require supervision.



9. Elephant Stretchy - This cute little elephant stretches and strengthens hand muscles.



10. Sticker Mosaics - Similar to the peg mosaics above, but these aren't reusable.  However, they make a cute little craft to keep!  Fun for most ages, but better for a little older students vs. the pegs which are best for younger kiddos.

11. Loom Bands - These are super popular with my 9-year old daughter and her friends.  They make bracelets like crazy!  They best part is that they're working on fine motor as they create!

12. Learning Resources Tweezers - I love these! I like to use them in sensory bins and when having students count objects. They are great for most ages.

Thanks for reading all the way through!  I know it was a longer post than usual, but I wanted to be thorough!  I hope you've learned a little more about fine motor skills and some fun activities that you can do with your students or your own children to build these important skills.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List


This little summer activity packs loads of fun!  There are three sections for your students (or your own children) to fill out.  They get to list 5 things that they want to do over the summer, 5 places they want to go, and something that they want to learn.  

     https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Freebie-Summer-Bucket-List-4618090

I did realize, after letting them color it that it makes the pencil a little hard to read.  So, either have them color lightly near the words or have them write (or trace over) in black colored pencil or marker so that it shows through.  I love the way it turned out though!  Now we're all set to accomplish my kiddos' summer bucket lists!  At the end of the summer, we'll look at our lists and see if we can check everything off of our lists.  You may even want to do one for yourself...I'm going to go do one now that I think about it.  I'll post mine later!


You can grab this fun FREEBIE in my TpT Store by clicking on any of the images above.  Enjoy!