Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Free Educational Resources. Or Should I Say Make Way For Giveaways!

Jungle Learners is having a giveaway!  There are many great products included in her giveaway packages.  I am happy to be included in the"Winner's Choice", k-2, Day 3 package.  That means the winner will get to pick any one item from my Teachers pay Teachers store!  I am curious about what the winner will choose.  Will it be birthday certificates, Valentine's Day cards a Bingo game or something else?  Want to check out the other stores in this package?  Here are the store links:  Preschool Wonders, Beach TeacherMrs. Burgen's Sign Me Up, and Kindergarten Holding Hands and Sticking Together.   The giveaway ends in just a few days so hurry over and sign up.  

Enter the k-2 Day 3 Winners Choice giveaway here.

Follow the link below to enter more giveaway packages from Jungle Learners.

Follow this link to view more packages from this giveaway:  Giveaway

Lessons by Molly © 2013  All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Crayon Colors Bingo Game Freebie

UPDATE JULY 29, 2016:  I've "Released" the crayon colors bingo game a few days ahead of schedule.

On my previous post I went into detail about strategies parents and teachers can use to make purchasing school supplies an easier task when preparing to go back to school.  This prompted me to create a FREE bingo game based on crayon colors.  This is a fun game that you can play with your class at the beginning of the school year. Children are often curious about the names of the crayons on the labels of individual crayons. I hope this bingo activity will satisfy their curiosity.  I created this bingo file based on common colors used on the crayons children bring to school at the beginning of the year!  There are 25 unique cards in all.  Please note that the Crayon Colors Bingo PDF file is only be available through the month of August.  Then, it's locked away until the following August.  Download it now and save it to your own computer.  Don't forget to scroll to the end of this post for a SMART Notebook freebie file.

Click on the image below to get the file.

In addition to creating the crayon bingo sheets for the children, I also created a SMART Notebook file so the educator can display the bingo game on the SMART board as the students use their individual sheets.  I used the shape tool to create the virtual transparent bingo chips.

Click on the NEXT image shown below to get the SMART Notebook version of the crayon colors bingo game.  Drag the virtual bingo chips over a word when you play the game. 

I thought I would share with you some of the things that go into the design process of my bingo games.  The photos below are a few years old.  I have revised the games shown with other graphics.  You can see the current appearance of the games through a blog post HERE. 

1.  The most important factor in my product design is that all students have the same words on their bingo sheets.  The words are positioned in different locations.  The students are told that every word that is called out is on their own sheet.  This element of the design reduces student errors because they know they must find EVERY word named.  They know ahead of time - all sheets have every word/image.

2.  Each space is large enough for a paint dabber, bingo chip, math cube, or novelty toy/eraser.  This way, the children can easily place the objects on their bingo sheets.  This provides teachers with the flexibility to use the objects or items available in their own classrooms. 

Paint daubers are fun, fun, fun with for children to use with consumable Bingo games.
The word spaces are large enough to be covered with paint daubers, bingo chip, and a variety of math counters.

We are using small, novelty erasers to mark the words called out in this game.
3.  I use the same templates to create all of my bingo game products.  Some of the bingo games have five spaces across and five spaces down.  This provides a total of twenty-five spaces to insert words or images.  The center space is usually assigned as the "Free Space" so there are actually just twenty-four spaces instead of twenty five.  (For some reason, kids always like having a free space!)  I believe that 24-25 words or images is the limit for most lower elementary children to view at once.  The other templates that I use include a total of 16 spaces or 9 spaces.  The 9 space bingo cards work will with preschoolers and some special needs children.

4.  The bingo sheets print on full sized sheets of paper.  Just print and you're ready to go!

5.  I create "Calling Cards" with my bingo games.  The teacher can involve the whole class in the game with the calling cars.  Cut the cards apart, shuffle, and stick them in a bag.  Take turns having the children pull a card out of the bag and read the word during the duration of the game.  If you don't have time to cut apart calling cards, use one of the student bingo sheets and read the words from left to right.

6.  I create both BLACK ink and COLOR ink options for many of my games.  This way, buyers can choose to purchase the games that suit their needs.  The BLACK ink editions are great to use as a consumable.  You could use paint daubers with these and the sheets can be sent home at the end of the day for families to see.  The color editions can be used in the same manner or laminated for long lasting use.  (The Crayon Color Bingo game is only available as a black & white printable.)

Tip for Playing Bingo with Young Children:

When using bingo games with young children, the rule should be five across or five down to win the BINGO.  Permitting winners by a diagonal line usually creates confusion for young children and should be introduced when students are in upper elementary rather than lower elementary.  

Copyright 2013 Lessons by Molly.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

School Supply Tips For Parents and School Supply Tips For Teachers

Summer vacation is nearly over.  Once again it's time to start thinking about getting back into the routine of early morning breakfast, transportation schedules, and of course, those school supplies.  What parents are thinking about is, "What will it cost me this year?"  While many families will wait until the tax free holidays begin, some will decide to beat the crowds and get the supplies in July rather than August.

Educators make decisions about the types of school tools needed by their students long before the first day of school.  These items are designed to aide with the learning process.  Usually the list of supplies is thought out and generated by the teacher or grade level team in May or June.  The lists are mailed to the home addresses or posted at schools.  Copies are also made available within stores for the customers' convenience.  

But there are a few things that both teachers and parents should consider before taking the "Back to School" shopping plunge.  Here are a few tips for teachers and parents to keep in mind.

Tips for Parents:

Parent Tip # 1:  Buy exactly what the list says.

"Suzy" needs markers for school.  Does she need the wide markers or the thin ones?  Does she need a set of washable markers or permanent?  Is there a particular brand the teacher wants her to use?  "Bobby" needs crayons for school.  How many crayons does he need?  Is it the 16 count box?  Is it the 24 count box?  Or could it be the 48 count box?  "Melody" needs a composition book.  Is it the wide ruled or the college ruled?  By the way, "Melody" also needs a pack of notebook paper - wide ruled or college ruled?  

Pay close attention to details on the list such as the quantity, size, description, and brand.
The picture shows three wooden rulers.  They're basically the same.  Right?
Here's a close-up of the same 3 rulers.  Do you see a difference?  One measures up to 14 inches.  The other two rulers measure up to 12 inches.  Which kind does the teacher need her students to have?
Parent Tip # 2Don't add items that are not included on the list.

"Polly" goes shopping with her mom.  There are some cute erasers that "Polly" sees and she WANTS them for school.  They're not on her school supply list but she really wants them and she makes an appeal to her mother to buy them anyway.

Talk with your child about the upcoming purchases before the shopping excursion.  Tell your child ahead of time that the shopping trip is about purchasing just what the list states.  This makes life easier for the teacher and is gentler on your budget.   

Parent Tip # 3Leave the "SUPER SIZE" for the fast food restaurant.  When in doubt, go small.

"Thomas" needs a pencil box.  He wants the jumbo sized pencil box with the cool super hero on it.  The list doesn't specify what kind.  Should you let him have the one he wants?  Usually school supplies will need to fit inside of your child's desk at school.  Will the jumbo sized pencil box fit in the opening of a student desk?    

Parent Tip # 4Plan ahead, but not this way!  

"Dad" decides to get everything ready for school one week ahead of the first day.  He carefully packs everything in "Nora's" book-bag and places the book-bag in the the trunk of the car.  "Nora" arrives at school on the first day.  She begins to unpack her supplies from her book-bag.  She is fascinated to discover a glob of melted crayons which are embedded to the bottom of her book-bag.  Summer weather and crayons in a hot car don't mix well! 

Keep school supplies away from pets, babies, and liquid.  Store them in a cool dry place.  If possible, get the school supplies into your child's classroom BEFORE the first day of school.  This could possibly take place on "Orientation Day".  

Parent Tip # 5Avoid Using An Out of Date School Supply List. 

"Mrs. Jacobson" decides not to wait for the school supply list to be mailed out.  She wants to purchase her son "Ethan's" supplies early.  "Ethan" will be going into third grade at the start of the next school year.  "Mrs. Jacobson" finds the third grade school supply list on her son's school website.  She prints the list and is off to the store.  The list "Mrs. Jacobson" is viewing is outdated!  

Make sure the supply list that you have is for the current school year.

Parent Tip # 6Tell your child before the shopping trip that the items are for school use and not for home.

"Josh is so excited about his school supplies that he wants to get them out and start using them as soon as he gets home from the store.  (Consider buying an extra pack of crayons to be used at home.  This way, your child has something he/she can use immediately.)  

Put the school items in a location where your child won't be tempted to get them out and start using them.

Parent Tip # 7Take your child with you on the shopping trip.

"Jan" has difficulty keeping up with her belongings and after the first week of school, half the crayons from her crayon box are lost.  Her scissors are also missing.  

Your child needs to develop a sense of ownership  and responsibility with his/her supplies.  Allow him/her to go through the process of making the selections with you.  If there are choices that can be made, such as the design on the folder, let him/her be the one to do this . . . within reason.

Parent Tip # 8Once you are sure that you have the correct items, label EVERYTHING . . . down to the last crayon. 

A black permanent marker usually does the trick.  If you have a "Jan" (like the one in tip # 7) in your household, she may also lose her jacket at school.  Don't tempt fate.  Label the jacket as well.

Parent Tip # 9If you are unsure that you have the correct item, contact your child's teacher before purchasing.   

Most teachers have a school email and are more than willing to provide you with more detail about an item.  Save your receipts in case items need to be returned or exchanged.

Parent Tip # 10Know what to recycle and what to throw away.  

"Ann" has a pencil box, a pair of scissors, and a ruler from the previous school year.  The pencil box is a little dirty looking, the blades on the scissors appear rusty, and the ruler has a few pencil marks on the side.

A plastic pencil box can be wiped and washed.  It will look almost as good as new.  A ruler with a few pencil marks from last year's use won't make a difference with the activities your child will be using to measure.  Recycling materials from the previous school year will teach your child a valuable lesson about being thrifty as well as preserving the environment.  A rusty pair of scissors will need to be replaces so your child won't struggle with stiff scissors when doing a cut and paste activity.  Additionally, don't skimp on a new box of crayons.  Especially when you can get them on sale for about 50 cents at super savings stores.

Parent Tip # 11Some "school supplies" are "home supplies".

Sometimes the teacher will require your child to have items on hand in the home for projects and homework assignments.  Be aware that in addition to the items kept at school, your child will also need materials to use at home.   

Tips for Educators:

Teacher Tip # 1Thoughtfully consider the items you'll want your students to purchase for school.  Think about the items they'll use frequently week in and week out. 

If they're using crayons several times a week, you might want to ask them to purchase two boxes of crayons instead of just one box.  Young children will love to start using a new box of crayons when they return to school in January after their winter break.  Make sure the families know that both boxes are being purchase for their own child.  Remember that the phrase, "The Sky is the Limit" is NOT the case when it comes to family budgets.  Don't go overboard with your supply list!  If there are things that students will need to have on hand at home, list those on the supply list as well.  Add a tagline beside those items that say something like, "Needs to be on hand at home for school related projects and homework."

Teacher Tip # 2Be explicit and descriptive with your list.

This is one of the most important tips I can offer you.  You must spell out the size and quantity for every item.  Missing this step will leave parents confused.  This will result in the wrong items being purchased.  Here are some examples of Do's and Don'ts for your school supply list that will give you an idea of the level of detail you should include:

Examples of "Do's":

1.  12 inch wooden ruler
2.  24 count box of crayons
3.  8 wide sized washable markers
4.  3-ring binder, 1 1/2 inch
5.  10 number 2 pencils - regular size
6.  2 solid colored folders with pockets inside
7.  wide ruled or skip ruled composition book with 100 sheets

Examples of "Don'ts":

1.  ruler
2.  crayons
3.  markers
4.  3-ring binder
5.  pencils
6.  2 folders
7.  composition book

If you don't provide enough detail, students may come to school with supplies that were not exactly what you wanted them to have.  Additionally, it wastes the parents' time when they are left viewing the many choices available to them at the store and bewildered about which item they should buy.  If a certain brand is preferred, it's a good idea for the teachers to check with the building administrator and make sure that indicating brand names is acceptable.  If the teacher is flexible in what type of materials students use, the word any can be added to the description.  Such as "colored pencils - any kind.     

Teacher Tip # 3Get the school supply list completed and in the parenets hands early during the summer break.

It's not always convenient for parents to go shopping.  Having access to the school supply list weeks in advance of school will provide parents with ample time to prepare.

Teacher Tip # 4Have the school supply list posted for public display.

Let's face it, we all lose things from time to time.  A parent that misplaces the school supply list will appreciate knowing where she/he can locate another copy of the list.  A school website that has the items listed by grade level or by the teacher's name is a great way of allowing parents to access the list online.  Make sure that is indicates the school year that the supply list is designated for.

Teacher Tip # 5Collaborate with other teachers within your grade level.   

Having a uniform list of supplies across the same grade level allows parents to know what's needed within their child's grade level before teacher-student assignments are made.

Teacher Tip # 6Ask parents to mark everything with the child's name before the start of school.
Labeled supplies prevent disputes about the ownership of student belongings in the classroom.  

It may seem a bit tedious to write the child's name on every crayon but in the long run it SAVES instructional time and improves classroom management.  The teacher can include the proper procedures for students to follow when crayons are found on the floor.  A simple procedure for young children is to tell the child to read the name printed on the crayons and return the crayons to their owners.  If the child does not recognize the name, the crayon can be put in the "Lost and Found" box.  The teacher reads the names (at a convenient time) on the crayons in the "Lost and Found" box and returns the crayons to the owners.  This ends the following instructional interruption by a child:  "I found this crayon."  It also ends the following instructional interruption by the teacher:  "Who does this crayon belong to?"  Labeling the crayons also enable the teacher to have a means of documenting students' progress in the area of work habits.  That is, keeping up with his/her own belongings.  Finding crayons with no names on the floor doesn't tell the teacher much.  But, when "Mrs. Jones" finds "Lucy's" crayons on the floor every day after school, she has a clear picture that  "Lucy" needs help with strategies on how to manage her own materials.

Teacher Tip # 7Have samples of all of the school materials needed diplayed on a table in the classroom before the first day of school.
If you have an orientation day prior to the first day of school, parents can view the items you desire their child to have at school.  

Teacher Tip # 8Have families bring their child's school supplies to the classroom before the first day of school.

"Josh" rides the bus to school on the first day.  His school supplies are safely packed away in his book-bag.  He's excited about the his new materials and he begins taking everything out of the book-bag while on the bus trip to school.  He also wants to show his fellow passengers all his goodies.  Soon, his belongings have been passed around the bus and some are on the floor of the bus.  He arrives to class with missing and broken items.  His teacher thinks he didn't come to school prepared.  His parents are in the dark about what just happened and think he has arrived at school well stocked with everything he needs.  

The best way to avoid this scenario all together is by getting the items in the classroom BEFORE the beginning of school.  The first day of school goes much smoother when school supplies have already been unpacked and put away.  This also gives the teacher an opportunity to check the supplies as the children bring them in before Day One.  If an item is not the one that was needed, the teacher can notify the parent during the orientation.  It also gives the teacher a chance to mark any items with the child's name that might have been missed by the parent.

Teacher Tip # 9Once the supplies are in the classroom, consider moving them away from the children's reach.

Young children will be excited about their supplies and will want to take them out of their desks and start investigating them.  This is especially true for a child that is transitioning from a classroom which had tables to one that has individual desks.  Start with just one item inside the desksGradually introduce the children to their school supplies by adding one new item every few days during the first two weeks of school.    
Teacher Tip # 10Have at least one extra set of school supplies on hand.

There will be some children that will never bring materials to class.  Their parents may not have the income to buy supplies.  Additionally, new students may be added to your class roll a week or so after school begins. 

Teacher Tip # 11Send unsuitable items home immediately.
This should be accompanied by a note that briefly explains that the item was not on the list or is the wrong kind.  It's possible the parent has kept the receipt and can return it.  The teacher can also suggest that the item be used at home. 

Tips for Marking Crayons:

Crayons can be marked with a permanent marker directly on the crayon label itself without the use of blank labels.  However, if labels are preferred for printing , here's a quick "How To" about marking crayons with the children's names.  Labeling crayons saves tons of instructional time during the school year.

Step 1:  Purchase some labels.  Make sure they're short enough so they don't extend beyond the height of the crayons.  (If you have labels that are too long, cut them in  half.)

Step 2:  Use a permanent marker to write your students' names (or your child's name) on the labels.  You will need one label for each crayon.

Step 3Carefully wrap the labels around the crayons.  Avoid covering the name of the crayon.

Step 4:  IMPORTANT!  Reinforce the labels with tape.  The labels will eventually peel off of the crayons if this step is skipped.   

Lessons by Molly, Copyright 2013.  All rights reserved.