Learning on a Snowy Day Sneak some education into a snow day with activities, lessons and mentor texts

things to do on snow day -- kids can learn and play

We love the snow, which is a good thing, considering we live in Pennsylvania and get a good deal each year. And while snow is an excellent opportunity to relax with hot chocolate by the fire, we all know that with kids, relaxing on a snowy day isn’t likely to last too long. As friends in the mid-Atlantic who are on their 5th snow day in a row are realizing, it's helpful to have a “snow plan” in place to entertain your children and give them opportunities to learn throughout the … [Read more...]

Teaching Guide: Use Ask. Listen. Learn.’s Lesson Plans to Teach Community, Healthy Choices & Alcohol Responsibility

ask listen learn offers free resources for teachers and parents to introduce difficult social discussions. Learn more at Julieverse.com

I'm really excited to partner with Ask. Listen. Learn., the curriculum area of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibly's Responsibility.org to share how to use their new curriculum materials in the classroom. If you're a parent, you may be interested in forwarding this resource on to your teachers, principals and counselors as the provided lessons and materials are aligned with national teaching standards, making it very easy for teachers to introduce healthy and socially responsible … [Read more...]

Making Snow People with Lois Ehlert’s SnowBalls A lesson for teachers, parents and homeschoolers becomes a celebration of creativity, writing and snow

snowballs lesson writing workshop art project mentor text

With so many mixed messages in the media, kids need to know who they are. So we reach for every opportunity to learn from our children. We ask questions. We talk about our days. We give examples and act as role models. But, sometimes, we can learn more by watching them. Upon enjoying Lois Ehlert’s Snowballs with my kindergartner and preschooler for the umpteenth time, we needed a change. The kids loved pointing out the many materials used to decorate each snowman in the short story. After … [Read more...]

Why You Should Start Reading Harry Potter with Your First Grader Today

harry potter -- is your child old enough to start the series

Hey Julie – Question – when do you think it’s OK to start reading Harry Potter?  Somehow I never read the series myself and I was thinking of making my mom read it first to see if it was OK for my son, who is 7 and in first grade.  He would love all the themes – the magic, the wizards, etc. but some have said it’s a bit too scary.  I haven’t even seen the movies yet so I am at a loss.  He is ‘average’ on the scare-o-meter, but we are a pretty ‘innocent’ house in that he hasn’t seen a lot of … [Read more...]

Here are the four most important questions to ask about reading success (just in time for conferences)

the 4 stages of succcessful reading

Reading is much more than reciting words that one sees on paper. Even before a reader achieves phonemic awareness and phonics, he’s learning to comprehend, understand, internalize and make connections. These are the essential stages necessary to teach kids to read, and to reach success in reading. How can parents help? By reading with children and encouraging reading and discussion time. And by recognizing the most four most important reading questions to ask themselves and their child's … [Read more...]

When we couldn’t find a simple word in the dictionary, we turned to the internet. So we ask: why are schools paying for dictionaries?

Why spend time teaching and learning dictionary skills when you can just hop on the internet?

In second grade, my son was tasked with a fun project to follow up on a class reading book, Donavan’s Word Jar (Trophy Chapter Book), which is suggested for grades 2 and up, age 6 and up. The story’s main character, Donavan, is obsessed with words and learning their meanings.  He creates a word jar where he keeps slips of paper listing his favorite words and their definitions. Following the reading, my son’s assignment was to create his own jar, selecting 10 words that are interesting to … [Read more...]

These Assignment Books Will Help Get Homework in Order

how to create your own assignment book that will help your homework habits

Sometimes the hardest part about homework is in the formation of creating the habit of recording assignments. While many schools offer assignment books to their students, some, especially as the students get older, expect the students to create their own. (Or just assume that kids already have their own methods. Many students, unfortunately, don't.) Here are a few options for your own assignment book, to help students in elementary school, middle school and high school be more … [Read more...]

Want to know the secrets to being a “best” student? It’s not just straight A’s and brown-nosing

what does it take to be a best student? It's not just straight-As and being a teacher's pet. It starts with good discipline and role models at home -- read some easy tips to help your child develop good-student habits

I read an interesting article recently. In an unscientific poll, KidsHealth.org (of the Nemours Foundation) asked about 3600 teachers what they feel makes the best student. The results were fairly obvious to a parent: The student is willing to try his/her best every day. (26%) The student is willing to ask questions when he/she doesn’t understand. (14%) The student is polite and respectful to the teacher. (14%)   But I wondered if they were obvious to a student? Do our … [Read more...]

Is Reading a Low Priority? 9 Ways to Encourage Reading In Your Home

9 easy ways to help your family learn to love to read, no matter their ages

"I assign 30 minutes of reading each night," said my 6th grader's reading teacher at Back to School Night. Then, he shrugged and finished his sentence. "But we all know that reading is the lowest priority for the kids and they aren't doing it." Say what?! Nope. My husband and I weren't happy with that at all. Reading is what comes first in our family, and there's a good reason for it: we've always embraced and encouraged reading, and a reading teacher who isn't going to do that is a genuine … [Read more...]

Putting fun in learning: use Play-Doh (plus, a classroom giveaway for an awesome teacher!)

so many fun ways to learn with Play-Doh! and a teacher giveaway!

As forever the parent who forgets to bring the distractions to activities, I loved learning this easy distraction trick when a mom had a few extra canisters of Play-Doh in her bag. Borrowing just a small canister each, I noticed the kids were engrossed in created their own games and activities with the little bits of compound. Soon, several kids of all ages pressed out shapes, balls, worms, practiced creating letters and began to create sculptures. As I glanced over to one of my kids, I … [Read more...]