An Atlanta mom’s argument against Common Core and Standardized Testing

my 8-year-old's class lost 3 hours to practice standardized testing

I've always been inspired by my friend Ruth Hartman's passion for arguing standardized testing in schools. Her children are students in the Atlanta area and, recently, she shared a Facebook status update reminding others to read between the lines, and to read the lines carefully, of the many articles sent home from schools that supported and discussed educational testing and common core. The discussion was inspiring, so I asked Ruth to share her opinions in an editorial on … [Read more...]

Learning with M&Ms: learning across the curriculum and beyond

learning with m&ms -- many opportunities for learning with little candies including spelling games, math games, exercise and social activities. Love the getting to know you game for the beginning of the school year or for new students

Several months ago, my son came home from swim team practice inspired for a new family activity: the M&M game. Last year, every Monday at practice was M&M Monday: each child gets an M&M and does whatever is assigned to that color on the M&M chart–it’s a fun way for the kids to run their drills. But even better, it offered opportunities for us to play a similar game doing everything from homework, to household chores, to indoor and outdoor activities, to extended … [Read more...]

Why wordless? The educational value of wordless books

Why are wordless books so important for reading and child development? Never discount the importance of wordless books in childhood. Through wordless books, children learn the art of storytelling and unique thoughts as well as necessary pre-reading skills. Plus 9 must-have picture books for your library

Growing up, my mom and I ventured to the local library at least once a week. It was a tiny, two story building with the children’s books and story hour hidden upstairs. These were the days before people set up workstations at small libraries. Little research was done at this one. It was, simply, a lending library. I recall the moms shushing their children. I’d like to think that I was as difficult to settle into quietness at this tiny library as my kids were, when they were also of the … [Read more...]

Help your kids become stronger writers and thinkers

ideas and topics for journals, discussions and higher level thinking. With tips and strategies for teachres, homeschool and parents to encourage student's higher-level thinking

Children as young as kindergarten should be encouraged to journal on a regular basis. Some teachers have students journal for morning work while others use it as a transition. Alternatively, families can use journaling for an after school or before school activity, a calming step in the night time routine or a part of the homework hour.  No matter when they do it, when children learn that writing is a normal part of their day, they begin to strengthen their writing skills as well as their … [Read more...]

Is a toy still a toy when you learn to code from it?

wonder workshop stem learning coding and playing

In middle school, high school and college, I hated HATED science: all and any forms of it. I despised memorizing vocabulary, following directions to complete an experiment properly and explaining what happened and why, when it was already done. It wasn't just boring, it was frustrating. My grades were always lowest in Science. In fact, I practically failed Chem in college. Surprisingly, in Graduate School, my absolute favorite class was Teaching Science. In my grad class, the professor … [Read more...]

5 effortless ways to teach kids to describe

how to teach kids to describe use adjectives

Wouldn't it be easy if we all knew exactly what someone else is talking about? But, it's not and, therefore, learning to use adjectives isn't just a skill kids need for school and writing, but also for conversation and life. Here are 5 easy ways to teach your kids to describe. Use describing words in your conversation Don’t just say “Over there, to your right, see it?” As an adult, you need to model the desired behavior, so make sure you’re describing with more than the basic words. Give … [Read more...]

Midyear transition to a new teacher leads to valuable life lessons

how getting a new teacher will help your child in school and life

This article originally appeared on Rusty and Rosy's blog. It's been edited with updates to help parents, students, teachers and administrators who are struggling with transitions to new teachers, often long-term substitutes, mid-year.   On a gloomy Wednesday, we received that dreaded letter that was never expected. Our 4th grade long term substitute would soon be leaving, as her contracted counterpart had opted to come back to school, early. Parents were angered (in August, we … [Read more...]

Great chapter books for grades 3-5 (Great holiday gifts!)

chapter books for elementary kids -- makes a great gift!

Parents contact me often asking for book recommendations. The books listed below are a mix of adventurous and funny realistic and historic fiction chapter books for kids in grades 3-5. I Survived series When Middle was 5, I found I Survived Hurricane Katrina at a Scholastic Book Fair. I had some concern that introducing my young guy to such a scary time in our country’s history might cause a few nightmares. But he’s always been fascinated with facts and, because it was a chapter book, I … [Read more...]

3 ways to use art to enhance writing skills


No matter if they type of art, children can improve writing skills as they study different forms and apply their senses and stories into writing. Help your child select a form of art and, together, complete the following tasks to enhance his or her writing skills. (This is a great activity for Thanksgiving weekend or a holiday break -- art is all around you, even in holiday decorations!) Selecting the art Remember that art takes many forms, so follow your child’s interests. Look for an … [Read more...]

Gifting a teacher doesn’t have to be hard, here are 6 easy ideas your teacher will love

teacher gifts, male teacher, female teacher

I've posted often about the best teacher gifts (and what not to give a teacher). (click on all those linked [underlined] words for the different guides.) Here's my newest list of teacher gift ideas-- easy, thoughtful presents your teacher will love. It's a great idea to carry blank greeting cards in your handbag or diaper bag or give to your teacher to carry them. I started carrying extras in my car and my handbag and try not to leave home without them. You know those times when you  just … [Read more...]