Google+ Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

Monday, July 28, 2014

Soar with Reading via Magic Tree House and JetBlue!

As an educator and mom, I know the importance of keeping children reading over the summer. Why? The "summer slide" is real! I have seen so many children regress over summer break. This makes the school year more difficult and students feel discouraged and lacking in confidence. Encouraging your children to read during their summer break is a simple but extremely beneficial endeavor. I understand that amidst all the fun and carefree days of summer, getting kids interested in reading isn't always easy. That's why I was so excited to participate in this sponsored campaign for JetBlue's Soar With Reading program. (I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for JetBlue. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.)

JetBlue has partnered with Random House and beloved Magic Tree House author, Mary Pope Osborne to bring you this summer's Soar with Reading program. The Lil Divas and I were SUPER excited when we saw the Soar with Reading display in the airport during our recent travels to San Francisco. The Magic Tree House series has been one of our favorite series for years.  Personally, I have been sharing Jack & Annie's adventures with my students for many, many years. These books are perfect for the classroom because they impart historical facts in a way that is just so captivating to young readers. My students always wanted to know more about the topics covered in the books. Isn't that what it's all about - igniting that spark and nurturing a child's curiosity and desire to know more! 

The Magic Tree House books were among the first chapter book series that the Oldest Diva embraced. She became so engrossed in Jack and Annie's adventures that she wanted to read them one, after the other. Finding an amazing chapter books series early on that she could read independently while readily identifying with the characters (Jack and Annie were kids just like her!) and that contained adventures that she not only learned from but that kept her turning the pages is one of the reasons that she went from a reluctant reader to an engaged reader - thank you Mary Pope Osborne. 

These days, the Littlest Diva is happily reading through her big sister's copies of Magic Tree House.  Our book shelves are lined with books and both girls have embraced many series but Magic Tree House remains one of our favorites and we always look forward to reading new titles from the series. 

Looking for a way to extend your current Magic Tree House book? Enriching your child's reading experience with fun activities, crafts and discussion is a great way to aid their comprehension and get them even more excited about reading. Hop over to the Soar with Reading site. 

There's lots to do including getting your own printable passbook that you can use this summer. You can download great printable activities based on various Magic Tree House books. You can even listen to excerpts of Magic Tree House books being read-aloud. Don't forget to vote for your favorite book, send some fun e-cards and read through a complete list of ALL the Magic Tree House books in order to help you plan your perfect summer reading list. The site also offers details about upcoming events (the next event is in my old hometown - New York) and you can watch a message from Mary Pope Osborne which gives more details about the program. 

This summer, as you and your child(ren) explore all that the Soar with Reading site has to offer don't forget to watch Mary's clues and take a guess about where Jack & Annie are headed next. We have been making our daily guesses.  Every guess you make will be helping get books to children in need. How awesome is that? What an easy way to help other children get the books they need to keep reading this summer. To date, JetBlue and the Soar with Reading program have donated over $331,350 worth of books and counting. You can guess every day and help JetBlue reach their goal of donating $500,000 in books to children in need. 

Be sure to enter the Soar with Reading sweepstakes for a chance to win one of six first-prize trips throughout the summer, which will include a JetBlue Getaways Travel Certificate for two and an autographed copy of Magic Tree House #52: Soccer on Sunday, or a grand-prize drawing, with first prize being a JetBlue Getaways vacation for up to four people and a Magic Tree House boxed set of books. Second prizes, which include a Magic Tree House boxed set, will also be awarded. 

If you haven't had the opportunity to explore a Magic Tree House book yet, the website is a great place to start. These books are a great way to encourage summer reading and engage your child(ren) in a reading adventure that will captivate their minds with thrilling stories that involve travel, history, science, friendship and more. 

We still have lots of books on our summer reading list and we're looking forward to reading more of the Magic Tree House series. The great thing about books is that you can take them anywhere, even during your summer travels. Books have definitely made our long car rides, airplane rides and waiting times pass by in a blink this summer.

What books are on your child's summer reading list? Do they have any favorites they are looking forward to reading this summer?

Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this post are my own. I was genuinely excited about sharing this #sponsored #MC #soarwithreading program because Magic Tree House books have been a favorite in our home and in my classroom for years. 

Happy Reading,

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Balloon Play {The Sunday Showcase 7/26/14]

I can't believe July is almost over. Around here, that signals the end of our summer vacation and the start of school. We start in early August. My mind has officially begun making the switch from summer to classroom. I am working on lots of fun additions to my classroom for the coming year. 

Until I officially begin work on August 8th, 
I am going to enjoy my last bit of summer with the Lil Divas.
We've been enjoying simple play this week which included water balloons!
That gave me the fun idea to feature Ballon Play Ideas this week.

Don't they look fun?
Perfect summertime activities for play with the whole family.

Click any of the links below for the full post and how-to's 
on these Bubble Activities for Kids shared on last week's linky.

(What We Do All Day)

(Mosswood Connections)


Here are a few of our favorite BALLON PLAY activities:

and a few of our favorite experiments involving balloons:


Looking for more ideas?
Be sure to look through our archives

and don't forget to peruse our Pinterest Boards


Now it's your turn to share!
Do you have fun Balloon ideas to share? 
Please share them with me in the linky, 
by commenting below or by visiting our Facebook page

Be sure to link up your child centered ideas while you're here.
I love to see what everyone is doing.

If you have been featured, grab a button you deserve it!


The Sunday Showcase is hosted on FOUR blogs!

Each blog showcases their own features so be sure to check them all out!

If you are here for the first time please read this informational post for the full details.  Anything kid friendly and/or child centered is welcome!  You are welcome to share more than one post,  but we don't accept links for giveaways,  shops, or downloads for purchase, etc.  They will be deleted.

If you're linking up we encourage you to visit other links 
& our Sunday Showcase Pinterest board!  

Please note that by linking up you are giving us permission to use a photo (with proper link to you!) in our featured section and on our Pinterest board!  


Link up and share your child centered ideas with us!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kindergarten Handwriting Practice Activities and Centers

Many children find practicing handwriting tedious. My writing center is devoted to handwriting in the beginning of the year. My Kindergarten students NEED the practice. You'd be surprised by how many children form their letters incorrectly or don't know how to write certain letters at all. In order to keep things interesting and engaging for the students I vary my handwriting activities and try to keep them fun and hands-on as much as possible. 

Today, I'm going to share some of my favorite handwriting activities. They have all received the approval of both the Lil Divas and my students so I hope you'll find them useful as well. This post does contain Amazon affiliate links where possible for your convenience (see below for more details). 

Playdough Alphabet Mats - These are great! They can be used a few ways which makes them even better. I like getting numerous uses out of things, don't you? 

I laminate them for durability but you could also use sheet protectors. In the classroom I mainly use them for centers during the beginning of the year. We use them with playdough (my Kinder students LOVE this as a center activity!) to practice forming letters correctly.  Using playdough also helps them build their hand muscles because they have to break it, roll it, etc. We also use dry-erase markers on them to trace the letters. Aside from using them to practice writing I also use the sheets in my ABC center. We use them as a puzzle and the students put them in order on our big carpet. We play matching games with them and match the upper and lower case letters too. I'm sure you could use them other ways as well. If you can offer more ideas please share - I'd love to hear them.   

You could also use these with so many different manipulatives to build the letters - snap cubes , Foam Color Tiles , Two-Color Counters , Link n Learn Links and Unifix Cubes to name a few of my favorites.

The set pictured above is $2.50 from Lavinia Pop on Teachers-Pay-Teachers. It's my favorite because it shows correct letter formation. You can get some FREE sets to download too but I didn't find any with the letter formations and I found them worth the cost with so many uses.

Here is another set that I have used and can recommend if you prefer a FREE Play Doh Alphabet Mat set (by Mrs. Wheeler). 

Pattern Block Alphabet Mats (from Confessions of a Homeschooler) - My students love these because it's like a puzzle. The pattern blocks are always so much fun to create with so I have to set parameters and ensure they stay on task at centers. Once the expectations are set they do a great job though. 

Do-a-Dot Alphabet Mats (Confessions of a Homeschooler) - I actually use pom poms or 3/4-Inch Button Magnets on a cookie sheet with these pages. The pom poms can get messy and the students have a hard time keeping them on so I prefer the magnets. At home, I put magnets on pom poms for the Littlest Diva when she was younger and that worked really well too. I'd love to make enough of them to use in the classroom as a center but that's still on my "To Do" list. 

Wikki Stix Alphabet Fun Cards  - My students really enjoy forming letters out of wikki stix. The cards show the correct formation and I encourage them to follow it. I also don't let them cut the sticks. They have to bend them and/or fold them to form the letters. This helps keeps my wikki stix in tact and my students get some more hand muscle building exercise.  

GeoBoard Letters (Free Printables from Making Learning Fun) - You need lots of Rubber Bands (you can find color ones at the Dollar Store too) and some 5-Inch Geoboards for this.  If you have those items for your math center you can totally use them in your literacy centers too! Kids have so much fun with geoboards and these cards show exactly how to make the letters. It takes a little practice but once they get going they won't even use the cards for more than a quick glance to see what letter they will make. My kinders loved trying to figure out how to make the letters for themselves. 

Lego Alphabet (One Beautiful Home Blog) - This center is always so much fun and it is quite challenging for my Kinders, especially the first few times they try it. You need to have lots of Legos on hand for this. My students don't like taking their letters apart until the end of the center. They like to build them and stand them up (this is definitely part of the appeal). I have gotten lego donations and always ask around or look for sales, etc. 

If you need to make this simpler you can use any printable alphabet letters and just have the students lay the legos on top of them to create the letters. It's super easy and might be a good way to start before you move up to "building" the letters if you have children/students without lego experience. 

Magnetic Letter Builders (Confessions of a Homeschooler) - You will need a Xyron laminator for these but they are lots of fun to use. This is still one of my wish list items as I don't have the right laminator to make them. You can also purchase a similar type set from Learning Resources - 
Learning Resources Magnetic Letter Construction Set

Foam Letter Templates - I use these (FREE) Upper Case Letter and Lower Case Letter templates from Tired, Need Sleep. This is great for the students who need a little extra practice or younger children just starting out with letters. You'll definitely need to print out a few of each shape and laminate the letter templates for durability (or put them in sheet protectors).  

Highlighter Alphabet Letters - I use this as "real-life" practice in my handwriting center. I write the letters on our writing paper using a highlighter and slip into sheet protectors. The students use their dry erase markers to trace my letters. I use various colored highlighters and they choose the paper/color they want to work with as well as the color dry erase marker they want to use on it. It makes for a colorful center and it's great practice for them to see how to not only form letters but how to use the lines on our writing paper. Using the lines is a BIG deal and something that has to be taught to many students because most of them have not written on lined paper before starting school. 

Handwriting Sheets - I laminate them or put them in sheet protectors to use with dry erase markers. This saves a ton of paper and my Kinders adore using the dry erase markers. I provide various colors and encourage them to use the colors they like or even rainbow write by using a few colors (a huge hit!). 

I have a few favorites that I use because changing them up keeps my students interested in doing the activity. 

I LOVE these (FREE) A-Z Handwriting Printables (Confessions of a Homeschooler - Can you tell I am a big fan of her FREE printables! She is amazing!) for the beginning of the year because they include pre-writing practice along with the upper and lower case letters. 

I also use these Handwriting Sheets (FREE on TpT by Wild About Teaching). They have upper case and lower letter formation and a fun coloring section on top for differentiating lower/upper case letters. 

Another set I use are these Handwriting Printables ( because they include a picture for the common sound and simple sentences which is great for budding Kindergarten writers. 

I hope you find these handwriting printables and resources useful for your home and/or classroom.

This post was written as part of my Get Ready for K thru Play series.
(for all the other posts in this series click the link above or the button below)

For even more 
Fine Motor and Handwriting Ideas 
be sure to check out my
(Debbie Clement/Rainbows Within Reach)
and these posts from my series co-hosts:

(Coffee Cups and Crayons)


(Mess for Less)

(Rainy Day Mum)

(The Pleasantest Thing)

Happy Writing!

Disclosure: This post does contain Amazon affiliate links where possible for your convenience. If you click and decide to purchase something, this blog does get a small commission off each sale. Thank you for helping us continue to share our ideas with this opportunity.