How to Bust the Winter Break Blues

Winter Break Ideas for Kids

It’s Winter Break, you are home with the kids, and you heard the dreaded words “Mom/Dad, I’m bored”!

What to do when the kids are stuck inside thanks to freezing weather? Don’t let this happen to you! Here are some tips to remove boredom and ensure that they’re making the absolute most out of their break from school.

Board Games and Puzzles

Having a few board games around the house is a great way to keep your kids entertained outside of video games and television. Just make sure that you’ve picked something dynamic and entertaining, and most importantly, that your kids actually enjoy playing. You can find a great selection of games at Schoodoodle.com. They’re bound to love them and you’ll be surprised at how you really don’t need technology to keep your kids’ minds occupied.

Arts and Crafts

This is a truly fantastic way to spend quality time with your k-12 kids, and it’s not remotely hard to do. All you’ve got to do is to plan for just a few minutes. The majority of kids crafts can be created with things that are lying about the house or can easily be picked up at the grocery store. SchooDoodle.com offers hundreds of activity books, activity kits and supplies for arts and crafts from wiggle eyes to wax!

Kids in the Kitchen

Your kids are sure to love this one. Take the opportunity that you’ve been given with this break to show your kids the ropes of cooking! There are plenty of kid friendly recipes that they’ll be able to master in no time. Just ensure that you’ve fully prepared yourself for the mess that’s going to follow. It’s all in good fun, though.

Mix Up Family Movie Night

Ask your children what they’ve thought about a movie and create a rating scale, allowing them to show how they’d rank each individual film. From there, you can get them to write a little story or draw a few pictures that depict their favorite parts of the movie. Developing effective critical thinking skills is a great thing to encourage in your kids, that’s why this game’s a great educational tool despite it being focused on movies.

Check Local Websites and Papers

You should be able to find a range of Winter Break activities in your nearby area. Take a look at the entertainment section and, with any luck, there should be a plethora of different activities and exhibits available in your locality. If not, you can always take the car or public transport to the nearest place that’s got something going on.

Prepare for Tests

Winter Break’s a grand opportunity for making improvements to test taking abilities by going over test strategies and practice tests. Everything can’t just be fun and games, set aside some room for revision and school work! Click here to see some of our test prep supplies.

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Schoodoodle Holiday Guide: Top Educational Holiday Gifts for Kids

Children's Holiday Gifts
As the holidays are closing in, many of you are rapidly looking for the best presents for your little ones, so we narrowed the search from some of our most popular categories.  In today’s society, there are more and more factors competing for your child’s attention. Why not enhance your child’s creativity and intelligence this holiday season with these educational games and toys. Here are some of our recommendations.

Preschools tricycles, scooters and push bikes

For young children, moving and exploring are some of most beloved activities. Why not gift him/her something that can do all of that and still be safe and fun? Preschool Tricycles, Scooters and Push Bikes from Schoodoodle.com teacher supplies provide exercise and fun for your early childhood learners! We proudly sell Winther brand products, including Winther Viking, Winther Nova Viking, and Winther Mini Viking. Be sure to see our full selection of tricycles, push bikes and scooters.Here are a few recommendations:

DUO SAFTEY SCOOTER

DUO SAFETY SCOOTER
If you are looking for your toddler’s first driving experience, this may be your best option. This scooter is durable enough to withstand even the most active children. This popular toy can also be operated by small children and features a wide seat for increased safety and stability.

VIKING TRICYCLE BIG
Preschool Tricycles, Scooters and Push Bikes
If you have a more experienced young rider, he or she will appreciate this hot rod. It has exciting looks and adjustable seat so your children can enjoy it for years to come. This Tricycle features a comfortable seat and will make your little one the speediest child on the street.

Arts and Crafts supplies

Encouraging creativity and growing the imagination is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children. Click here to see all of our arts and crafts kits and supplies for children. Here are some of the top gifts we recommend this year:

 

FRIENDS 4 EVER BRACELET KIT
Kids BRACELET KIT
It’s a Friend-zy! Suitable for ages 8 years and up, this creative kit features 2 styles, 8 patterns, and enough beads to make 22 bracelets! Includes 4 color-coded looms, 22 colors of floss, beads, beading needle and easy instructions. Comes in a convenient take-me-anywhere suitcase!

GIANT ART JAR
GIANT ART JAR
Giant art jar gives your child many possibilities to craft anything he wants out of the paper. It comes with pipe cleaners, feathers, multi colored pom-poms and everything your kid might need to express himself.

Creative Play Toys

Motivate your child’s imagination with these creative play school toys! Some of the best lessons are learned through play.

GREEN BUILD A FORT
GREEN BUILD A FORT
The ultimate boredom buster! Kids will love hiding in this customizable fort that features authentic camouflage panels and lots of additional parts. Two glowing sticks are also included to illuminate their hut.

NANOBLOCK SPACE SHUTTLE
NANOBLOCK SPACE SHUTTLE
Give your aspiring astronaut the experience of building their own space ship! This gift is not only fun, it will boost your child’s creativity while teaches them problem solving skills.

Educational games for kids

These games are not just fun and a way to keep them distracted- these items will help to teach them how to think for themselves and understand the world around them.


LET’S GO FISHING

Educational Toys and Games
This game is certain to amuse your child and their friends as they try compete to catch the most fish. This a game of rhythm, timing and precision, and can improve your child’s eye hand coordination while having fun.

MATH MAT CHALLENGE GAME
Math Games for Kids
Learn math the fun way. Let your kid to take quiz games and learn math with their feet. The pace of the game gets faster by every right answer. It has 6 different games and 2 skill levels and it teaches counting, addition and subtraction up to 20. Your kid will surely love it

 Happy Shopping!

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National Parent Involvement Day – November 20, 2014

National Parental Involvement Day seems kind of like Mother’s Day.  I mean, we should show Mom we love her everyday, right?  But, I’m not complaining that we’ve set aside a day to recognize the importance  – of both.

It is no secret that parental involvement plays a large role in the academic success of our children.  According to the vast amount of research out there, in the early years, parental involvement has a significant impact on children’s cognitive development and literacy and number skills.  Furthermore, parental involvement in a child’s schooling for a child between the ages of 7 and 16 is a more powerful force than family background, size of family and level of parental education.

Some school districts are recognizing how important the role of the parent is, and are even including parental involvement in their metrics to measure school effectiveness.  For example, New York City schools will soon be rated based on how well they work with parents.  This was  announced a few weeks ago as NYC schools embark upon an overhaul of how they engage with families.

As a former teacher, I can tell you first hand that parental involvement is not only important – but it is essential to student success.  It’s more than showing up for conferences and plays and helping with homework.  It’s more about demonstrating to our children that learning is not confined to the classroom.  It’s about supporting the learning that happens in the classroom in real and relevant ways.  Most teachers will agree with that statement.  I believe that the vast majority of parents truly want to help their kids.  However ,there are a many real reasons why some aren’t as connected to the school as they should be (i.e., time, language barriers, job constraints, etc.).  Overcoming the obstacles is a two-way street.  Parents need to reach out to teachers, and teachers need to make sure that parents have the resources they need to be involved.  Just as “one size does not fit all” with our students, the same applies to parents.  With National Parental Involvement Day on the horizon (November 17), maybe it is a good time for all of us to find one thing that we can do to improve parental involvement within our educational organization.  Maybe, if everyone does one thing to make a difference, we will.  What do we have to lose….  well, except the academic success of our kids?

If parental involvement is a priority at your school or organization, tell us how you’re addressing it.  We’d love to hear from you.

Schoodoodle.com carries a wide selection of resources designed to help parents support the learning process at home.  Browse our Parental Involvementresources, as well as resources for home school kidsearly childhood learning materials, and learning games for kids.

Featured Lesson Plan: Election Vocabulary Bingo

Election Day Lesson Plan

Election Day is coming up,  and we want to encourage teachers take advantage of this learning opportunity in American politics and history.  Though students are not old enough to vote, they can still feel involved in the process of electing our leaders and determining the future of our county.  When we engage our children and teach them to care about this process; it nurtures a desire and commitment for them to be caring and responsible citizens later.

Our featured lesson plan this week comes from Teacher Vision and is featured in their large selection of Election Day Teaching Resources and printable lesson plans.  We hope that you will visit this source to enhance your Election Day curriculum and share your ideas!

Election Day Student Activities

Enjoy this weeks featured lesson plan!

Election Vocabulary Bingo
Grade Levels: 4 – 7

Objectives

  • Students will review election vocabulary.
  • Teacher will be able to assess students’ knowledge of election vocabulary.

Materials

Procedures

After students have had a few days to review and learn all of the election vocabulary, play a game of bingo with them.
Distribute Bingo Cards and chips. Read the definitions of the words out loud. Students put a chip on the cards when they see the word that matches the definition.

When students have four across, diagonally, or vertically they yell out “Bingo!”
Have students read out the words that gave them bingo, checking that you actually read the definitions for those words. Give winners prizes. Students switch cards and play again!

Source:
TeacherVision® is dedicated to helping teachers save time. Find 20,000 pages of classroom-ready lesson plans, printables, and resources.

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Celebrate American Education Week November 16-22!

American Education Week

Originally posted on www.nea.org

The National Education Association’s 93rd annual American Education Week—November 17-21, 2014—presents all Americans with an opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring every child receives a quality education. Our AEW tagline, “Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility,” reflects NEA’s vision of calling upon all Americans to do their part in making public schools great for every child so that they can grow and achieve in the 21st century.

The weeklong celebration will spotlight distinguished individuals who are critical in building great public schools for the nation’s 50 million K-12 students. American Education Week’s celebration days include:

Monday, November 17: Kickoff Day
Nationwide Kickoff. Across the country, schools will celebrate excellence in education by hosting kickoff events and activities.

Tuesday, November 18: Parents Day
Schools will invite parents into the classroom for a firsthand look at what the school day is like for their children.

Wednesday, November 19: Education Support Professionals Day
Education Support Professionals keep schools running and students safe, healthy and ready to learn. ESPs work hard to serve students in public schools and how committed ESPs are to both their jobs and their communities.

Thursday, November 20: Educator for a Day
Community leaders will be invited to experience the day as educators and experience the challenges of teaching and the needs of students. Learn more about this program through the Educator for a Day Promotional Kit.

Friday, November 21: Substitute Educators Day
Substitute educators play a vital role in the maintenance and continuity of daily education. Learn more about these professionals and take a look at resources and tips for substitute educators.

Is your community participating?  Click here for a list of resources and promotional materials.

Hispanic Heritage Month Lesson Plans and Classroom Resources

Hispanic Heritage Month Lesson Plans and Classroom Resources

Photo source: National Hispanic Heritage Month on Facebook

“Hispanics: A legacy of history, a present of action and a future of success.” -2014 Theme for National Hispanic Heritage Month

Did you know that Hispanic Americans are one of the fastest growing population groups in the United States according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau?  In fact, 50.5 million people or 16% of the population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) is an opportunity for students of all ages to learn about the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.

Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrates their heritage and culture. Just last week, the White House released the following statement:

“This month’s theme, “Hispanics: A legacy of history, a present of action and a future of success,” reminds us of all the ways Hispanics have enriched our Union and shaped our character. From those with roots that trace back generations to those who have just set out in pursuit of the promise of America, they have come to represent the spirit of our Nation: that with hard work, you can build a better life for yourself and a better future for your children. Hispanics have served honorably in our Armed Forces, defending the values we hold dear. They have transformed industries with new, innovative ideas. And they have led and inspired movements that have made our Nation more equal and more just.” Presidential Proclamation — National Hispanic Heritage Month, 2014

Here are some helpful educational resources, themed lesson plans (most of them are free) and classroom activities to help you integrate National Hispanic Heritage Month into your classroom:

Education World: Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month! 
National Education Association: National Hispanic Heritage Month 
Scholastic.com: Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Teacher’s Guide 
ReadWriteThink: Hispanic Heritage Month begins today. 
The Lesson Plans Page: Hispanic Heritage Month Lessons
EDSITEment: National Hispanic Heritage Month 

Hispanic Heritage Month Lesson Plans and Classroom Resources

Click here  to see more ideas on how you can observe National Hispanic Heritage Month with your students with Schoodoodle.com ebooks and supplies!

 

12 Helpful Online Lesson Sharing Resources for Teachers

 

Back to School

Teacher Collaboration

With today’s technology, educators have more resources and connections at their disposal than ever before. Online collaboration with colleagues, now embraced by K-12 educators all over the world,  can be a very effective way to prepare lessons for your students. Not only can it make life easier, it can help to improve the quality of curriculum.

All schools have different needs and styles, so collaborating within your school and district is the best place to start. From there, lesson sharing websites are reinventing the possibilities teachers can delve into for finding new approaches and materials in their classroom.

Here is a sampling of some of the many sites available to educators for lesson sharing, let us know which ones you like to use!

#1 MyDoodle

Schoodoodle’s own online teacher resource built to enable educators to share ideas and lessons directly with each other! Click here to get started!

#2 Share My Lesson

Share My Lesson invites educators and others who work with students to exchange resources and ideas for FREE! This is a wonderful site for teachers who want to share lesson plans and best practices with peers not just in their district, but across the country. www.sharemylesson.com

#3 Planboard

Planboard helps you easily plan lessons, track standards, and collaborate between teachers worldwide to create the best lesson plan for a particular subject. www.planboardapp.com

#4 Scholastic

Offers thousands of free lesson plans, unit plans, discussion guides, and extension activities. www.scholastic.com

#5 BetterLesson

An online platform for teachers to create, organize, and share high-quality curriculum. BetterLesson aims to provide teachers with the tools to create, organize, and share curriculum in a dynamic and sustainable manner. betterlesson.com

#6 Curriki

Curriki gives teachers, students & parents access to 50,000+ free & open source K-12 #OER curricula. Curriki originated from the idea that technology can play a crucial role in breaking down the barriers of the Education Divide – the gap between those who have access to high-quality education and those who do not. Therefore, we aim to provide world class educational resources and curricula collaboration tools for free to anyone that wishes to use them. www.curriki.org

#7 Common Curriculum

This “Holy Grail” of lesson plans helps teachers plan units and lessons, share them with their team, school, or district, and publish them for students and families. Allows teachers to search Common Core & State Standards, create templates and plan units for the entire year…and it’s free for teachers. www.commoncurriculum.com

#8 WatchKnowLearn

Imagine tens of thousands of excellent, short videos and other media explaining every topic taught to school kids. Imagine them rated and sorted into a giant directory! www.watchknowlearn.org

#9 NROC Math

A community guided non-profit empowering learning by sharing digital content with students and educators. NROC courses and applications like HippoCampus and EdReady may be adapted by member institutions to support local initiatives and to enhance online, blended and face-to-face learning environments. www.nrocmath.org

#10 National Science Teachers Association

An endless supply of scientific curriculum from elementary through college educators sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association, the largest organization in the world dedicated to science education. www.nsta.org

#11 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

With more than 200 publications written by educators for educators, NCTM is the resource for all of your mathematics education needs. Browse our extensive selection of publications, including books for classroom activities, professional development, and research. www.nctm.org

#12 Schmoop

Offers free and open resources and keeps it fun & relevant for students in the digital age! www.shmoop.com

These are some of our favorite lesson sharing sites…what are yours? Share your favorites, and any other insight you have, in the comment section below. Working together to develop a knowledge database of top lesson sharing sites will make for better educators all around!

More info we found on www.edutopia.org

Curriculum-Sharing Websites:
Roundups and Write-ups for More Sources:

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Smart-Fab® Wants To Help Teachers to Brighten Their Boards this Fall

Smart Fab

Like all good things…summer is coming to an end.  But we have great news and an important tip for teachers: Smart-Fab® wants to help get the school year off to a great start.

This innovative company has introduced an amazing alternative to paper and fabric that makes classroom decorating a piece of cake! Finally, you don’t have to be a master crafty person to create inspiring bulletin boards and classroom decorations for your students like these on Pinterest!

Smart-Fab® is a unique new non-woven fabric that’s easy to cut, fold, glue, sew and staple – and even paint and draw on. It’s ideal for arts and crafts projects, classroom decoration, stage design, tablecloths, wall coverings, drapes, signs and banners, stage design, costumes, displays and more. We could go on, but we’ll let them tell you more in their own words:

For a limited time, teachers can enter to win a $500 gift card when they decorate their bulletin board with Smart-Fab! The “Brighten Your Board” Contest starts August 1, 2014 and ends on September 19, 2014. You can enter the “Brighten Your Board” Contest through the Smart-Fab® Facebook Page. Click here for details.

Students and educators LOVE working with Smart-Fab® and is already being used in many happy classrooms across the country. You can now find this back-to-school staple in a range of brilliant, non-fading colors on Schoodoodle.com!

 

How to Engage Your Child’s Reading and Writing Skills This Summer

Encouraging your child to actively participate in reading and writing activities during the summer months will have a great impact on their school performance when September rolls around. In the past, we have mentioned many resources to help prevent summer learning loss; here are a few:

Your Local Library Reading Programs (Free of charge and totally fun);
Summer Bridge Activity Books by Carson Dellosa;
National Summer Learning Association;

….and just this week I came across some creative ideas in Atlanta Parent Magazine that I liked so much I had to share with all of you. Be sure to visit their site where you can download a PDF of the July Issue so you can see these tips with others in the article: Tips to Keep Kids Reading and Writing All Summer Long by by Denise Yearian. Enjoy and let us know if you have a favorite summer learning tip to share!

  • Be a good role model. Let your child see how you enjoy reading.
  • Provide daily time to read. Make sure your child’s summer isn’t so structured that he doesn’t have time to read.
  • Tally and record what he reads. Have your child keep a list of book titles he has read throughout the summer. This encourages him to set and attain reading goals. To help your child synthesize what he has read, have him write a few sentences stating what character he liked best and why.
  • Dramatize it. When reading to your child, have him act out certain scenes – “Then the thunder rolled,” and he makes the noise of thunder, “And she fell asleep,” and he pretends he is sleeping. This uses your child’s imagination and makes the story come alive.
  • Create a family newsletter. Have your child write a newsletter with creative stories on what everyone in the family has been doing. Mail this out to friends and relatives you don’t often see.
  • Use books to write puppet shows and plays. Have your child write an adventure based on a book he’s just read using the same characters. Or create a new character to insert in the story. Act it out through a puppet show or play. Record it for later viewing.
  • Support a soldier. Have your child write to a soldier overseas. This not only develops letter-writing skills, it helps your child learn empathy and compassion. Use an Internet search engine and type in “penpal a soldier” for organizations that sponsor this activity.
  • Let your child help plan a family vacation. Check out travel books and historical nonfiction to help him prepare. Also look for historical fiction that features children his age

Investment in Summer Learning Programs Can Help Stop the ‘Summer Slide’

The loss of knowledge and educational skills during the summer months is cumulative over the course of a student’s career and further widens the achievement gap between low- and upper-income students, according to a RAND Corporation study issued last week.

The study confirms that students who attend summer programs can disrupt the educational loss and do better in school than peers who do not attend the same programs.

“Despite long-term efforts to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students, low-income students continue to perform at considerably lower levels than their higher-income peers, particularly in reading,” said Jennifer McCombs, study co-author and a senior policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Instruction during the summer has the potential to stop summer learning losses and propel students toward higher achievement.”

The study, commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and conducted by RAND Education, is the most comprehensive research on summer learning to date. Using extensive analysis of existing literature combined with field research, the study examines student summer learning loss and gain, the characteristics of effective summer learning programs and the costs associated with such programs.

It also gives specific recommendations on how school districts can overcome barriers to establishing successful programs.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the conventional six-hour, 180-day school year is insufficient to give many disadvantaged students the education they deserve,” said Nancy Devine, director of communities at The Wallace Foundation. “This long-awaited and timely RAND study, ‘Making Summer Count,’ confirms the disproportionate impact of the ‘summer slide’ on low-income students, and suggests that high-quality summer learning programs, though challenging to develop, are a promising path forward.”

Researchers find that not all summer learning programs provide equal educational benefits to students. Moreover, many programs suffer from low attendance. Researchers find that students experience the most benefits when the summer programs include individualized instruction, parental involvement and small class sizes.

Despite the clear benefits from these programs, according to the study, many school districts question the cost-effectiveness of summer learning programs and a significant number have discontinued them as a result of budget cuts.

While a day of summer instruction costs less than a day of instruction during the school year, summer learning programs are an additional cost. The researchers found that cost is the main barrier to implementing and sustaining summer programs.

“One way school districts can make summer learning programs affordable and more effective is by partnering with community-based organizations,” said co-author Catherine Augustine, a senior policy researcher at RAND. “They are often less expensive than school district staff, and they offer enrichment opportunities that are often similar to those experienced by middle-income youth during the summer — such as kayaking or chess, for example — that encourage students to enroll and attend, both of which are critical to program effectiveness.”

Researchers make several recommendations for school districts and community leaders to plan and develop summer learning programs, including:

  • Invest in highly qualified staff and early planning. The more-successful providers developed well-structured programs that attract students to enroll and attend, and they recruited quality, dedicated staff with time to devote to planning and programming.
  • Apply “best practices” to summer learning programs, such as providing smaller class sizes, getting parents involved, giving individual instruction and promoting maximum attendance.
  • Give strong consideration to partnerships, which enable the creation and sustainment of high-quality voluntary summer learning programs. Various organizations offer different sets of resources and skills that can bolster a summer learning program. Partners may include community-based organizations, private summer learning providers, and city and local governments.
  • Think creatively about funding sources, such as hiring AmeriCorps members and hiring teachers who need administrative hours as summer-site coordinators. There are more than 100 funding sources that can support summer learning programs.

Researchers also recommend that policymakers at the federal, state and local levels continue funding summer learning programs, and clarify the extent to which existing funding sources can be allocated toward summer programs.

“Summertime offers an opportunity to help bridge the achievement gap and the opportunity gap,” McCombs said. “Summer learning programs can give students the chance to master material they did not learn in the previous school year, prevent learning loss, propel learning gains and provide low-income students with enrichment opportunities similar to those experienced by their middle-income peers.”

The full report, Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning,” is available at www.rand.org and www.wallacefoundation.org.

RAND Education, a division of the RAND Corporation, is a leader in providing objective, high-quality research and analysis on educational challenges that is used to improve educational access, quality and outcomes in the United States and throughout the world.