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3/23/2017

How to Teach about Life Cycles



Happy Spring, everyone! I'm Andrea from Right Down the Middle Blog, and I am excited to be here with you today.

Have you ever seen the face of a child when a plant begins to sprout? Or have you witnessed their curiosity while watching a caterpillar transform into a beautiful butterfly? Spring is the perfect time to teach your child about life cycles because there are so many around us that are happening all at once.

Life cycles are around us everywhere, and they serve as teachable moments whether you are a homeschool parent, a classroom teacher, or a parent taking advantage of a learning moment. There are numerous life cycles you can examine: the life cycle of a plant, a butterfly, a chicken, a ladybug, a frog, and so many more. What is so awesome about teaching about life cycles is there are so many ways to teach it and incorporate the lesson into your everyday life.

Here are several of the best ways to teach your child about life cycles.

#1: Hands-On Activities

Children love to learn using their hands. By using their hands, they are active and alert. They feel they are a vital part of the lesson when they are engaged in the learning.

One way you can easily incorporate a hands-on approach to teaching life cycles is by actually planting something with your child and watch it grow. Your lesson will be more memorable, and it is definitely time well spent together.

To grow a plant, here are some supplies you will need: potting soil or soil from the back yard, a container (the size will depend on how big the plant is expected to grow), seeds (I recommend seeds that will begin to grow within a five to ten day window), and water.

One of the seeds we planted together. 


Take a step back and let your little one take over the planting process by allowing them to follow your directions. Children of all ages can put the soil in the container, plant the seeds, and water it. Since the seeds will not grow overnight into a plant, this allows your child to observe the process over the course of about a week. It also gives your child an opportunity to water the plant every day (just a little bit) to really focus and observe the changes that will begin to take place.

We planted four different seeds to observe. 


#2: Read about It

The library is full of books with illustrations and information to capture your child's attention.

One of my favorite books to use while teaching the life cycle of a butterfly is Eric Carl's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. My daughter absolutely loved this book! The illustrations really draw the reader into the book and take the reader through metamorphosis of a butterfly.

Another favorite book, From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons, presents a simple explanation of the life cycle of a plant. In the book, the reader learns how many things around them produce seeds and the seeds transform into what we see around us everyday. There is also a plant explanation in this book.


#3: Investigate It

The internet serves as a great tool for teaching about life cycles. You can find videos on YouTube on the different life cycles that are short, informative, and entertaining for your little one. 

Depending on the age of your child, have him or her research a certain life cycle. Through actively learning new information, your child will be able to use the newfound knowledge to tell you and others about life cycles around them. 

Here is a FREEBIE for you to use with your little one. It is a mini-book where the child will Draw It, Write about It!, and Label It! 



Thank you for letting me share with you today some ways to teach your child about life cycles. 



Connect with Me:
Teachers Pay Teachers: www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Right-Down-The-Middle-With-Andrea
Blog: www.rightdownthemiddleblog.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RightDowntheMiddle/
Instagram: @rightdownthemiddle 









3/20/2017

Genres Interactive Bulletin Board

I'm back at it! Last month, I shared the bulletin board my bestie "let" me do for Black History Month. If you missed it, here's what you need to know: I'm a SAHM who loves to create and my best friend is a teacher with one million other things to do, so I got to create THIS beaut for her February board! It was such a hit with teachers and student alike, that I decided for March I would follow the same format. Why reinvent the wheel, amiright?!

This month, we're switching gears and focusing on Genres. I chose this theme because it's applicable across grade levels so it can be appropriate for lots of kiddos in the hallway. Plus, it's a great topic to review before those dreaded ever-anticipated standardized tests roll around!

I present to you my What's That Genre? bulletin board!


Like last months board, this board has interactive flaps with a question on the outside and the answer on the inside. Half of the twenty flaps for this board have a title and description of a book. The students use both to decide which genre they think it fits in!




Also like last month's board, I incorporated word scramble cards, where the students will use the scrambled letters + a description of the genre to determine the genre. These make up the other 10 cards.

The ten genres included are: Folktales, Fairy Tales, Nonfiction, Autobiography, Fantasy, Poetry, Historical Fiction, Fable, Realistic Fiction, and Mystery.


Finally, of course, the set includes the extra little tid bits you'll need to bring the board together: The "Name That Genre" title letters, the "Identifying Genres" poster! I'm looking forward to seeing the kiddos interact with this one as much as they did with last month's!




To follow my adventures in teaching at home, raising Kingdom kids, and balancing this crazy Mom Life, plus random journeys back into the school, make sure to follow me on Instagram and BlogLovin'! Use the teeny icons on the top left! 
3/11/2017

105 Ideas for an EPIC Toddler Easter Basket!

Does anybody else go ALL IN when it's time for Easter baskets? I LOVE loading them down with goodies for the kids -- but my number one goal is to AVOID the candy-palooza that is all too easy to fall into. Two years ago, I shared a post with ideas for Baby Boy's First Easter. If you have a little bitty boy OR girl at home, I totally recommend checking that one out!


Last year, I pulled a "Bad Mom" and ducked out for Easter weekend. I know. Shame on me for lounging by the pool with my bestie in the Caribbean while my husband tackled bowties and buckle shoes.

It was worth it.

This year, though, I'm staying in town and so excited to share this weekend with the kiddos! April will be filled with tons of Easter activities, heavily focused on the true reason for the celebration, so make sure to check back for fun ideas for sharing with your tot!


In the meantime, I'm busy building the most epic Easter baskets ever. Here's a Tip: Think of fun things your kiddos need and that you'd end up buying anyway. Then shove them in a basket for an extra fun-stuffed celebration! Know that our baskets are filled with tons of items that have been on our shopping list anyway, plus some other fun goodies the kids will go gaga over. I considered SO. MANY items this year. Any items with links are my personal recommendations (and a few from friends)! If there's a link, you can bet that I stand by that product. Items with asterisks (*) are the items that ended up in one or both of my kiddos' baskets! [Disclaimer: This post does contain affiliate links].

For your shopping pleasure, here's ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE ideas for building an Epic Easter Basket!



Health & Hygiene
Toothpaste*
Toothbrush*
Hair brush
Hair Gel*
Disposable table mats for restaurants
Hair ties
Lotion
Kids Hand soap

Outdoor Fun
Chalk
Bubbles
Kite
Fishing Pole
Walkie Talkies
Gardening supplies*
Sand toys
Velcro catch and toss game*
Binoculars
Pinwheel*
Frisbee*




Spring & Summer Gear

Umbrella
Sun Screen
Flip Flops

A beta or gold fish!

Crafting & Fine Motor
Crayons
Colored pencils
Toddler/jumbo pencils
Window Markers [See one way we used these here!]
Notebook
Wiggly Eyes*
Feathers
Pipe Cleaners
Stickers*
Glitter
Window Clings
Play Dough
Coloring Book
Clip Board
Finger Paint
Paint Brushes*




Play
Chalk
Hot Wheels*
CDs or iTunes gift cards
Balls
Movies
Slinky
Duplo Legos
Stuffed Animal*
Mr. Potato Head

Pretend Play
Feather Boa
Dress up Clothes
Play Jewelry*
Doctor Set
Play tools
Baby Doll
Doll Accessories

Bath Goodies
Boats
Duckies
Bubble Bath
Wash Cloths [We got the little kind you add water to and they expand]*
Bath Mitt
Bath Scoops

The Practical Stuff
Fun Socks
Blanket
Sound Machine
Fun Pillow Case
Shoes

Potty Training
A jar of potty treats (ok, so this one may be candy!)
Underwear
Potty book

Accessories
Sunglasses*
Hats
Bow tie
Fake Tattoos
A watch*

And that's 105! I'd love to hear your ideas, too! What's going in your kiddos' Easter Baskets?? Connect with me on Instagram so we can stay in touch!




3/08/2017

Saint Patrick's Day Math from Tricia's Terrific Teaching Trinkets

You know how the simplest ideas are sometimes the BEST?! I know. Sometimes I seriously need reminding that having a good time with my kiddos, and providing fun, engaging, and MEANINGFUL activities doesn't have to be a Pinterest-buster (that's a thing I just invented). THAT is why I'm so grateful for today's guest blogger, Tricia from Tricia's Terrific Teaching Trinkets, who has already inspired some SUPER SIMPLE and fun activities in our home! 

[I blew this hundreds chart up at BlockPosters.com, then printed & laminated at home].
Today Tricia's bringing you some Saint Patrick's Day math ideas for kids. As you can see, we've already implemented them! Welcome, Tricia!

St Patrick Day Math Ideas and Freebies for Kids


Shamrocks, Leprechauns and Gold Glitter... 

all celebratory symbols of March's greatest holiday! 


When I taught First and Second Grade, Mr. Leprechaun would visit our classroom leaving teeny tiny green glittered footprints everywhere, turning desks over and flipping anchor charts upside down in search of his gold. Many years, he also locked me in the closet only to be rescued by 26 giggling students. Oooo...the memories!

Top of the Morning! I'm Tricia, creator of Tricia's Terrific Teaching Trinkets where Math is made easy, differentiated and engaging. I am thrilled to guest post today for Buck and Chuck on this glorious spring day.

So how can we take the magic and excitement of St Patrick's Day and integrate it with math? Easy!  Let's chat!

First repeat this manta after me.... "Math can be fun and easy!" 

Just adding the smallest little spark or turning a math topic into a little game, can bring excitement and joy to a child's learning.  As I always say, when practice feels like play...it can be a win-win.  

As far as the "easy" part...so many people say, "I'm not good at Math" or "I never understand Math." Ok ready for a little secret.   Come close... I was never a good student in Math...like Not...At...All! There were numerous nights spent at the kitchen table next to Daddy crying.  It was hard and I felt horrible!  And now...I am a math teacher.  

So here is why it works: I am able to scaffold and teach the lesson in parts.  Start easy and small and then when my students are "getting it," I kick it up a notch with the numbers or the concept.  Plus I also have great empathy and understanding on my students.  We say tons of Math Mantras and songs in class so we are always working on building confidence and our best self at the same time. 

Today I teach math to grades K-5.  Every Friday we celebrate "Fun Friday."  In fact, that is how I greet my kiddos at the door on Friday.  "Good Morning!  Happy Fun Friday"... and they answer me back the same way... it's awesome to see them so excited coming into the classroom.  Whatever our lesson is for the day... fractions, ballpark estimates, tally marks, word problems... I add any little game I can to the lesson.  Get a problem correct (independently or with support)... awesome... you get two tries to bowl or throw a basketball in the trash basket.  The excitement that day is electrifying and the students can not wait to try a problem.

Now comes the spin of adding a holiday to our math fun. 
Look at what I picked up at The Dollar Tree for a total of $2.00! 

St Patricks Day Math Fun and Freebies

With all the fabulous manipulatives at Target, Joanne's, Michael's, The Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby (to name a few) it is easy and cheap to pick up darling shamrock erasers and use them as counters or game pieces.  

Click for Freebie Counting Mats!
I will use these adorable purchases to count by 5s and 10s as well as other things like addition word problems and asking kiddos to draw tally marks to match the picture of items I put out.  The uses really are endless and the kids are so excited about the holiday and the sparkle, our math time goes much faster.

I love creating math resources full of games, puzzles and color by number to help children practice their math skills independently. I created an addition color puzzle just for you below!

Click on the image below to grab two cutie Leprechaun Addition Math Fun Practice Sheets

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/5ogrybq6d3vlduf/St%20Pat%20Guest%20Blog%20Freebie%20PDF.pdf?dl=0

And so there is...a few fun ways to integrate St Patrick's Day and Math Fun at the same time.
It was wonderful getting a chance to share with you.
Now it is your turn... How do you like to get kids excited about St Patrick's Day and learning?

Tricia from Tricia's Terrific Teaching Trinkets
I'd love to connect with you

TPT Storewww.teacherpayteacher.com/store/Tricia’s Terrific Teaching Trinkets
Blog: www.triciasterrificteachingtrinkets.blogspot.com/
Facebook@Triciasterrificteachingtrinkets
Instagram@TRICIASTERRICTEACHINGTRINKET

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/St-Patricks-Day-Math-Activities-3019168
Math St Patrick's Day Fun for 6 and 7 year olds

Are you interested in being a guest blogger for Buck & Chuck? Click here for details! To follow my adventures in teaching at home, raising Kingdom kids, and balancing this crazy Mom Life, make sure to follow me on Instagram and BlogLovin'! Use the teeny icons on the top left! 
3/05/2017

March Book Box Bonanza!

The book situation is out of control in our house. Seriously. If I would stop buying books and donate that money instead, I could probably feed the children of a small country. But the addiction is real and there are way too many stinkin' cute books that we have yet to own! On the plus side, my kids will be well-read.

Every month or so [sometimes less, sometimes more] I go through all of our books and pull out books to "highlight" that month. The dream is to eventually get one of those fancy book display shelves that you find in classrooms, but I can't seem to find one in white and I really don't have a place to put it anyway. For now, my kiddos have a book box.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
To me, it's super important that I rotate the books in the book box. I do this for a couple of reasons:

1. It gives me an opportunity to highlight certain skills or vocabulary. This month, we're talking about Saint Patrick's Day, Noah's Ark, and Rainbows! All of our books will support the same ideas and vocabulary, because they are all based on one of those topics. This is important for littles because repetition is key!

2. It means I'll eventually (hopefully) make sure that all of the books on our shelves are read! Of course, kids have their favorite books, so if they're always the ones choosing, we'd never make it to the rest of them! Now, I don't require the kids choose books from the book box. That would be silly. However, because they are prominently displayed, and because I always pick from here when it's my turn to choose, these books get read most often throughout the month.

March's book box is a bit overwhelmed! I had so many books that they don't all even fit into our little box (which I'm thinking means I really do need that shelf). It's definitely a good problem to have! Thankfully, both of my kiddos are book OBSESSED and get just as giddy as I do over these crazy fun stacks!


This month, I've got a great variety of books for you to add to your March arsenal. I'm going to highlight my top three (which seriously were incredibly hard to choose) and then link the rest below so that you can check them out for yourselves!

Noah's Ark by Katherine Sully

I cannot even express to you how much I love Sully's ENTIRE series of Bible stories. They're BEAUTIFULLY illustrated, well-written, and a perfect combination of factual & informative with accessible, easy to understand. They are still a bit above Beckett's comprehension level, but the story + illustrations still provide PLENTY for us to talk about.

We own the entire series, but we got the SET on Groupon for $24! Since then I've seen them and bought them for $17 for the whole set. I buy a couple sets at a time and gift them. Make sure you look! They're SO PERFECT.

This book's illustrations offer a lot of great conversation about the story of Noah's Ark. If you have a preschooler to teach this story to, you won't regret this buy!




I've got to admit, I remember being so enthralled by There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly that I had pretty high hopes for this book and was actually kind of disappointed at some of the "rhymes." I felt like the author fell short just a tiny bit. HOWEVER, this one turned out to be SUCH A HIT in my house that it made #2 on this very long book list! Beckett is smitten with this book. We read it multiple times a day and he hasn't even started to loose interest. 

One thing I really have enjoyed (other than the obvious) is that this month we're talking about "real" and "pretend" and this book was the PERFECT opportunity to broach the vocabulary. We talked about "did she REALLY eat those things?" Beckett has regularly informed me since, "That's just pweetend!" 


What Makes It Rain, from Usborne Books
So I bought this book in an attempt to fulfill my obligatory purchase at one of the SEVEN. MILLION Facebook Usborne parties I've been invited to. People. BEST. OBLIGATORY PURCHASE. EVER. We have actually only made it a couple of pages into this book and we LOVE it! I love the flaps and discussing the concepts with Beckett. He's learned that rainbows are made from light and that rain falls when the clouds get too heavy and so many other fun facts that I just didn't expect my THREE year old to learn.

The book has a full, flap & fact-filled page on rain, rainbows, the sun, lightning & thunder, the wind, and snow. SO MANY fun questions answered.

Grab this book. You'll be glad you did.


Ok. That is a LOT of information on three little books and I just can't bear to make you read through TWELVE MORE so I've got a photo grid for ya!! The grid of links are in preferential order starting with the ones I recommend the most! Check them out and then comment below: what books are you grabbing? And which of YOUR March favorites should I add to my list? I'm always up for book shopping!


2/25/2017

Fabulous and [a lot of] FREE Non-Fiction Resources for March!

March is basically HERE! I'm not sure why I love St. Patrick's Day so much (am I allowed to say BEER?!) but for some reason the seas of green make me giddy. Maybe it's spring around the corner, maybe it's the cutie little creepy dudes [I'm talking about leprechauns], but for whatever reason, I'm in full on giddy mode.

It's that time of year when my teacher friends are getting a little bit tired and trying desperately not to count the days until summer break, so I thought I'd do some of the leg work for you and collect some fabulous (and lots of FREE) non-fiction resources to go along with your March units!


This list is broken into the themes of my March Informational Text Passages. If you haven't grabbed yours yet, you can get it here! These are a BIG HIT with teachers and kiddos alikeThey are perfect for morning work, to add to centers, for literacy groups, or even as your core passage for the week. Plus, each passage is provided with a fill in the blank and multiple choice option to help you modify for different ability levels. And SURPRISE! I'm giving a set away today!


I've recently updated this pack to include interactive notebook pages! Even if you don't download the pack, interactive notebooks are a super simple way to get your kiddos engaged in their reading! They don't have to be fancy either! 

My March wish for you is that you find tons of great material here to get your March plans stocked with interesting and meaningful non-fiction content for your classroom! And don't forget to enter the giveaway below!


St. Patrick's Day

BrainPop Video + Great Corresponding Activities!
You'll Need a Log In

Brief, Free videos on St. Patrick's Day

FREE! For Grades 1-5, from Study All Knight



Snakes

FREE Passage + Comprehension Questions [Grade 1]

FREE!

Free, From The Teachers Guide - Passage + Questions

Classifying Animals Brainpop Jr Video
FREE. No Login Required! Check out the great corresponding activities!




Daylight Savings

BrainPop Video + Great Corresponding Activities!
You'll Need a Log In

Free




Spring

BrainPop Jr. Video + Activities
You'll Need an Account

Amazing, FREE differentiated readers (for THREE levels!) [Grade 1-2]
FREE Informational Text using Spring poems to teach about poetry. [Grade 3]



Rainbows

FREE Passage + Questions [Grade 1]

Free Passage, Vocabulary Cards, & Comprehension/Response Activities [Grade 2-3+]



Enter To Win!

In celebration of MARCH, I'm giving away one of my March Informational Text Packs! To get more info on how this pack can TOTALLY simplify your month, check it out here. Then enter to win one FREE below!





2/22/2017

Be A Guest Blogger for Buck & Chuck!

Hello Blogger Buddies!

2017 has been a year of new bloggy adventures! I redesigned and have been working hard to try new things -- with fabulous results! 

I’m finally getting organized enough to branch out in the world of guest bloggers! I am so excited to offer spaces on my blog for YOU, my blogger buddies, to be a guest blogger over here at Buck & Chuck [formerly #TeacherMom]! I would be honored if you’d partner with me in this adventure!

Yes, this is me in my robe. Don't judge.


My plan is to host up to one blogger per week, each supporting a [semi-specific] theme. Here's what you need to know:

The Upcoming Themes:

- Life Cycles: Thursdays, March 23 & 30.

- Easter: Thursdays, April 6 and 13.

- Spring: Thursdays, April 20 and 27.

- Travel/Vacations: Thursdays, May 4, 11, 18

- Mom Hacks for Maintaining Sanity: May 26, June 1, and 8

- Patriotic: June 15, 22, and 29

Posts can be ANYTHING even loosely related to these topics (for instance, I would totally consider snakes related to St. Patrick's Day), as long as they meet the guidelines below.

The Guidelines:

- Your post must be appropriate for my audience, which is has recently transitioned to mostly moms of toddlers through Kindergarten.

- You may use a recycled blog post, but you must be intentional about making sure content is up to date.

- You must offer quality, useful content. ONE paid product link is permissible, but the content must be valuable without the product.

- Great ideas and free products are always a hit!

- Photos must be high quality, clear, and attractive. Product covers are not acceptable.

- This FIRST image on your post should be an interesting, high quality photo – NOT a collage of photos, clipart, or a photo with digitally added text. This is for consistency with my sparkly new blog design.

- You must complete & submit your post for review at least FOUR days before the publishing date. 

What’s in it for You?

- You will, of course, link back to your own blog [or social media page] in the post.

- I will share your post across my personal Pinterest boards as well as many collaborative Pinterest boards over the course of a week or more.

- I will share one or more [interesting, high quality, clear image only] from your blog post onto my Instagram feed at least once. The more interesting images you provide, the more I’ll have to share! I am a part of Instagram Engagement groups that will help spread the goodness.

- I will share your post on my Facebook page, boost the post for at least one day, and share to several Facebook groups.

If you're interested in joining me at any time, please fill out the Google form here.