Primary Chalkboard: May 2014

Whatcha Doin' This Summer????

Oh, the confused feelings of summer…..couple of months away from a classroom full of kids, only to be stuck in a house full of kids (for some of us). Don't get me wrong, though. I LOVE summer break. I LOVE being able to spend a couple of months with my own 3, lovely, lively, energetic children, who somehow suck more energy out of me than a room full of 25 kids. How does that happen?! And my classroom full of 25 kids seem to be better behaved than my own 3 kids…again, how does THAT happen?! I am determined that this summer will not beat me. I will be victorious, and by victorious I mean that I will not be tired by my own 3 children (who are 11, 10, and 8) and my house will not become a disaster zone. Who else is with me?!

This post I am going to focus on some pretty fun, and, in most cases, FREE things to do this summer with kids. And they don't have to be your own kids. The "kids" can be nieces, nephews, cousins, little brothers/sisters, or friends' kids. As I was browsing the internet the other day, trying to think of ways to beat the summer boredom (we live in Georgia and after, oh, say about 10am, it becomes extremely hot to do just about any outside activity aside from swimming, and in which case our pool water becomes more like warm bath water, so it isn't overly refreshing. Hence, why we end up spending a lot of time in our house. Praise the AC unit!). We then venture outside around 6pm when it begins to cool off some. But I really needed some ideas of what to do the majority of the day. It seems if we actually GO somewhere, then my kids are more tolerable of the heat versus, say, just locking them outside our house (yes, I admit it. I lock out my kids sometimes. But I always make sure the garage freezer is stocked with popsicles and they have water bottles…but there is also a water hose next to our garage just in case. I lock them out because I get tired of hearing the door open umpteen times in 5 minutes. Parents, you feel me, right?!).

So I made a list of things I am definitely taking my kids to do this summer while we are on our staycation at home. My hubby also is a teacher, but being a football coach, his summer is full of football workouts all morning, so he doesn't get home until the afternoon each day, so he may or may not partake in some of these fun activities with us :) Hopefully you will be able to snag some ideas from this list to create your own "Summer To-Do List to Keep the Kids From Driving Me Bonkers." You could also reference this list to the parents of your students in hopes to keep their children from driving them bonkers this summer.

#5- Free Movies (or extremely cheap, as in $2 or less per person)
Around where we live, we are lucky enough to have a variety of movie theaters. A couple of movie theaters offers free movies during the summer. Granted, the movies have already been released, but what kid doesn't love watching a movie, and in some cases the movies are shown on a large screen outside. Fun for adults, too!

Regal is one theater that offers $1 admission to movies on Tue and Thur mornings at 10am all summer long. You can head here to see which theaters are offering this deal in your state/town.

Carmike is offering free admission to movies on Tue and Thur mornings at 10am, and for $4 you can get a small popcorn and drink. But if you bring in a canned good, you can get that popcorn and drink for just $2. Head here to plug in your local info to find a theater near you offering this deal.

Google "free outdoor movies" in your city and see what pops up. I know around us there are usually a few free outdoor movies in the summer, and there is nothing like drinking hot cocoa, eating Crunch 'n Munch, all snuggled up together in the back of my hubby's truck watching a movie together (of course laying on a blow-up air mattress).

#4- Reading for a Free Book
Barnes and Noble is heading up a summer reading program where you read 8 books, and you get to pick a free book from their reading journal list. This is for kiddos in grades 1-6. There is nothing I love more than to wake up in the morning, head out to our back screened porch, and read the news (or catch up on FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…), and now I will be encouraging my kids to join me as I sip my morning coffee and they sip their morning hot cocoa where we can all listen to the birds (before the scorching sun drives them away) and read. Hopefully this will help my kids continue reading this summer and not dive down so far on that typical summer slide! And, of course, your local library will be sure to have summer programs you might want to check out.

#3- Farmer's Markets & U-Pick Farms
Ok, this is more for me than my kids, but when we were in St. Croix one summer, one of my kids' most memorable experiences was when we went to the local Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. Local Harvest allows you to search for local farms and markets. My kids balked the first time we took them when we got home, but there is something magical to a kid about picking out fresh fruits and veggies and even picking their own. My kids eat more healthy stuff when they have a hand in bringing it home. Granted, if you are doing a pick-your-own, you'll want to head out early, but my kids love it so much they have their own pumpkin patch in our backyard now that they planted all on their own. And they take care of it without prompting, which I thought would never happen. Now they even have a tommy toe (what we call grape tomatoes) plant and pepper plants on our back porch they take care of. I think next spring we will plant our own mini-garden and see how that goes. When we visit nanny and pappy, my kids LOVE taking care of the garden and harvesting the crops. And it doesn't matter for how many days or weeks we are there, they never grow tired of it. Here's to hoping some of that magic rubs off on our soon-to-be garden at home!

#2- Geocaching
Ok, so this one may not be for everyone, but for my 11 and 8 year olds, this will be perfect. All you have to do is download one of the many free geocaching apps, make sure you have a GPS device or GOS on your smartphone, and start searching! I haven't done this one yet, but we will be later this week. From my understanding, you can look up nearby geocaches, and then you use the coordinates to find the hidden stash. Here is the official geocaching website, and I will be creating our new profile today. I must say I am excited, too. I mean, who doesn't love a good treasure hunt? Once you find the treasure, you log into a virtual logbook and fill in your find. If you take something, you must replace it with an item of equal or greater value. And there are trackers. I hope we find one of the trackers. A tracker is a small item that is meant to be taken from its current location and placed in another. Each tracker has its own log book so the original owner can see how it is traveling across the land :) We will probably buy our own tracker and watch its adventures!

#1- Be a Pilot
Yes, you heard me, your kid can be a pilot! And on a REAL airplane! How, you say? Well, for kids aged 8-17, EAA offers a free introductory flight lesson. The actual flight lasts about 20 minutes, and for a portion of the flight, your child will get to actually take the controls. Could be scary for you, but seeing how there is an experienced pilot in the next seat, incredibly exciting for your child! You can find a flight near you by clicking here. I remember doing this when I was 16, and it was awesome! I don't know if it was through this program or not (it was a LONG time ago), but I still remember seeing the horizon and land from a front row seat and getting to control the airplane. Best of all, this is FREE!

These are some of the things I am hoping will keep my kids entertained AND my sanity :) What are you planning on doing this summer to keep your family happy?


**Clip Art from Ashley HughesTeacher LauraSassy Designs
**Font from Kimberly Geswein

End of the School Year Tips (to be SUPER prepared for next year!)

Every June, I lock up my classroom for summer and FEEL like I have left everything ready to go when August rolls around. Yet, every August, I unlock those doors and realize how much work I have on my plate to get my stuff together for another school year. THIS year, I will set myself up for success for the next school year. I need to repeat that...


My schedule is just about to hit the crazy fan, but here in my tenth year of teaching, I have learned that my August self will be much happier if I can stick to the following five goals:

1. {I will} Keep some student work for my August bulletin boards.

I learned this tip while student teaching but there have been many "doh!" years where I forgot to keep something that can decorate the bulletin boards. My mentor teacher suggested that I have my students write letters to the future students. They are cute, not to mention easy! I created the following FREEBIE letter writing paper for you to use in your own classroom. The download includes letter templates for grades K-5. Click here to get in on the goodness! (P.S. it is a google doc so no registration needed. Yay!)

2. {I will} REFLECT on what worked and what did not.

This year I have had a goal that I have {mostly} kept up with, which is keeping better records of what I taught and how it went. I have an awesome grade level team and we have all been on each other's tails about maintaining our reflection notes. But now when things are crazy, this is when we need good records to keep us straight for next year. Now, most of my notes are simply a scribble fest on a yellow pad. But this system seems to be working. Even as I move into my last four weeks of school, I am stickin' with the goal of writing down my steps for planning stuff like:
  • Last day of school
  • Cleaning schedule
  • Celebration of Learning (parents visit the classroom and reflect on learning with students)
  • End of the year party
  • My final teaching units

I will be a happy camper to not have to make up these plans in busy May 2015.

3. {I will} Clean out the junk and stuff I don't use.

I have a whole shelf in my tiny classroom closet dedicated to the olden style geoboards, even though I have a new set. Not needed. Neither I, nor my students, have touched them in two years. This year they will find a new home. What about that box of old fabric scraps that we seriously do not touch. Oy vey. GONE. Little hands love helping on projects like this. I have a group of girls that would BEG to do this during their lunch hour!

4. {I will} Be ready to start student work portfolios on the first day of school. 

Student growth portfolios are a huge part of our classroom and school. The students each create a book with work samples and reflections on their growth. Even though this is supposed to be a year-round project, the bulk of the work happens in our last trimester. I always push the reflections and organizing of the book until the month before the end of the year. BUT, next year everything is changing. I am keeping a sample of a portfolio that is perfectly organized and put together based on what I used as an example this year. This will help me when I know that in October, we need to reflect on our Small Moment writing samples or our math journals, or in December we are checking in on our reading progress. Everything is fresh in my mind now which is the perfect time to write down what I have re-figured out in terms of organizing these bad boys.

There you have it! Even with only four tasks, this is a lofty goal. But if followed, hopefully our return to school is a little smoother. What do you think? Are some of these goals attainable for you this year?


Creating a 'Celebration of Learning'

At my school, we do a Celebration of Learning two times a year. 
This is two evenings a year when parents are invited to look at all the "artifacts" that the students have worked on. 

It's like putting things out on display in the hallway.... with six cups of coffee.
And the kids are all in charge! 

End Of The Year Memories

Aloha sweet friends!  Have you checked your calendar lately?  Can you believe what it says?  How did this happen so fast?!!

It's already time to start wrapping up the school year and plan those last few weeks to keep your class busy, but happy.

I love putting together memory books  for my class.  I told myself I was going to be better about taking and keeping pictures.  Taking the pictures is easy. It's the printing that can be a pain.

I have been using Costco to help me with this.  I just upload my pictures and they will print them for me for only $0.13 each!  Plus they store all of your pictures for you in case you need to print them again.

So the next few weeks gives me time to go through my pictures and print what I need.  I also make sure that I take a picture with each student to add to their memory books.

I created this last year and it is available in my TpT store as a freebie.  I simply copy and bind them for each student. 

Not sure you want an Aloha theme?  Well my sweet friends here at the Primary Chalkboard have tons of choices for you.  Click on any picture to get more info.

Is your head spinning with all of these options?!  Maybe you want to try more than one.  Well we can help!!

I wish I could enter!!  Who couldn't use a gift card for the upcoming sale?  Just click on the picture to take you to yesterday's post for a chance to win!!

TpT Gift Card Giveaway

You know that we love you, right?

You know that we love TpT, right?

You know that we love to save money, right?

You know that we love to give stuff away, right?

Clear as day?


Have you heard about TpT's upcoming sitewide sale?

You know...the one where you can get up to 28% off?

(Do NOT forget to enter the promo code TPTXO!!)

Well, the Chalkies wanna help you save MORRRRRE money!

Here's the deal...


THREE winners! $35 each!!!!
Hurry, though...the 'copter closes soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Celebrate Mother's Day in your Classroom with the Chalkies!!!

Hi All!!!
It's Latoya from Flying into First!!!
MOMS are the BEST!!!!
As Mother's Day approaches we want to give you some ways to celebrate Mothers in a big way.  It is very nice to help your kiddos to make projects, cards, etc. for their moms.  I stress to my students that they do not have to go out and buy an expensive gift.  They can give a handmade gift that comes from the heart.
Check out these Mother's Day FREEBIES!!!
Here is a free class book that I made that you can make with your kiddos to help them organize their thoughts.  They will tell one reason of why they love their mom.  They can then use that sentence to write a nice message on a handmade card.  Click the pic to download for FREE!!!

Check out our wonderful Lisa's blog post over at Growing Firsties which includes a Mother's day FREEBIE!!!  Lets just say your class mommies will be enjoying breakfast in bed!!!  Click the pic to check it out!!

Here are some fabulous Mother's Day products from some of our Chalkie authors!!!
Our fabulous Karen Jones of Mrs. Jones's Kindergarten has a fabulous craftivity that you can check out!!!  Your class moms would love this!
Flowers for Mom: A Mother's Day Craftivity Book and Gift

Check out these cool flip flap cards from our fantastic Anna over at Simply Skilled in Second.
They are so neat!!
Mother's Day and Father's Day Flip Flap Cards
Our great Katie of Teacher to the Core has a packet that will make mommies feel like super heroes!!  Check it out below!!
My Parents Are Super Heroes! Mother's Day and Father's Day Cards
You can check out some more cute craftivities from Jessica over at First Grade Nest.  Students will get to show off their great writing too!!!
Mother's Day Craftivity and Writing Unit

Here is my Mother's Day packet that you can check out by clicking below!!!

Thanks for stopping by!!!
Here is a pic of me and my mommy from long ago lol!!!

Before you go....share with us what you do in your classroom for Mother's Day!!!!!

Cinco de Mayo Classroom Fun!

Hi, friends! Casey here from Second Grade Math Maniac! Cinco de Mayo is coming up on Monday! I am excited to share some fun activities that I will be using in my classroom next week.

We are celebrating Cinco de Mayo as a tie in to our cultural explorations in Social Studies.

First on the agenda is a Cinco de Mayo Flip Flap Book from Simply Skilled in Second. This is my first Flip Flap Book and it was SUPER easy to put together. Anna has a great video here.

In math, we will complete my Cinco de Mayo Spin & Graph activity. The cute little monkey is from Victoria Moore. He is from her Cinco de Monkey Craftivity & Unit. She has a fun writing activity that goes with him, but since I do not teach ELA I placed him atop a line plot.

Also in Vicky's unit is this super cute Vocabulary book. We are currently studying Maps & Globes in Social Studies. This will be a great tie in for us to learn about the culture in one of the locations we have studied.

Check out these fun Cinco de Mayo products and more from other contributors to The Primary Chalkboard. Click on the images below to visit our TPT stores.

Feliz Jueves, amigos!