Tag Archives: teacher resources

Party Time! Well, Early Childhood Theme Party Time…

My biggest concern as an Early Childhood editor, has always been, “How do I make an educational book a hands-on experience for students and still user-friendly for a busy teacher or parent? Hands-on activities are crucial for young learners—but how do you convey those experiences within a book?

Kim Fields, one of TCR’s fabulous authors, does it in her new book, Year-Round Themes: Going Places (Pre-K). It is filled with engaging activities, interactive minibooks, songs, and stories that will entertain and educate young students.

Kim and her four year-old son, Isaac, presented her book and its materials to friends and family at a festive author party she held in her home.

Kim is our guest blogger. Here is her story.

As a former teacher, I understand the power of thematic units. I researched what type of thematic books existed for the Pre K market and talked with Pre K teachers about their needs and interests.

Then, I developed a book proposal and samples that presented my research and my ideas for the content of a book. I approached a TCR managing editor to submit my idea. It was a go!

It took approximately two months to research and develop a proposal, nine months to write Year-Round Themes: Going Places, and the rest of the time was in the production process. From start to finish, it took about 18 months to create the book.

After Year-Round Themes: Going Places was published, I held a book launch party to celebrate with family and friends. As part of the event, I had each guest fill out a passport—just like the one in the book. When they visited each thematic station, they were given a sticker as a “stamp” declaring they had visited that place. Thematic TCR stickers are the perfect size to fit in the blank box on the passport page!

I supplied a thematic menu, based on the five units in Year-Round Themes: Going Places. You might decide to use some of these yummy ideas as you celebrate the end of each unit with your preschool-aged children!

Farm—Farm-fresh fruit (strawberries, blackberries, cherries)
Pumpkin Patch—pumpkin bread with maple spread
Winter Wonderland—coconut ice (coconut milk with fresh pineapple blended and frozen in small cups)
Pond—frogs on logs (paper frogs on toothpicks inserted into peanut-butter covered celery)
Ocean—fish ‘n’ dips (pretzel and cheese goldfish crackers with an assortment of dips: hummus, sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese)

My friends (big and little) had a ball testing the interactive rhyming stories, complete with finger puppets, stick puppets that insert into scenes, and characters that “stick” to habitats with help from Velcro!

Adults were amazed by the souvenirs like the 3D barn (made from a cereal box) and animals that the children could create to take home to share with their friends and family, reinforcing what they had learned during their stay at each “destination” station.

Everyone agreed that one of the best features of Year-Round Themes: Going Places is that it comes with a color CD-ROM, which enables you to print out any pattern in the book in color. They oohed and aahed at how this would simplify prep time for the teacher and how each pattern or prop would look professional and fun!”

Thanks for guest blogging, Kim. I hope everyone enjoyed reading this as much as I did! We love your book and everyone at TCR got such a kick out of seeing your party pictures.

We are always open to hear what’s working in other classrooms too! Let us know, we would love to hear from you.

Summer Smackdown! How to Kick Summer Gap to the Curb

Summertime Learning Grade KIf you were to ask your children what their favorite part of the school year is, I bet they’d say summer.  And why wouldn’t they?  To them, it’s a time to sleep in, catch up on TV and movies, hang out with friends, and send even more text messages.  It’s two months of freedom from homework, written reports, and classroom speeches.

Unarguably, my summer breaks used to be my favorite part of the school year, too.  In fact, I still remember my middle school summer routine as if I had just practiced it.  Each day, my head was consumed by one “major” thought:  at which friend’s house was I going to sleepover that night.  (Sibling torture was a definite consideration.)  And the only studying I did was of reading about Kristy in The Babysitter’s Club, scanning the pages of Tiger Beat, or watching Dylan McKay on 90210.

Summertime Learning Grade 1

My middle school summers, as well as many modern summer routines, don’t sound too terrible.  On the contrary, they sound fun and even stimulating.  But are they educational?  Not quite.  And, unfortunately, a couple months of this behavior is like a minor car accident to your children’s education—they’ll recover, but it may take a while.

Think about it this way:  Students solve math equations, write paragraphs, and learn about historical events for ten months; then they get two months off.  In this time, they seldom solve, write, or learn anything of an academic nature.  When they return to school, their brains, much like unpracticed athletes’ bodies, are out of shape and require retraining.  In some cases, they have to relearn what they have already been taught.

Summertime Learning Grade 2Researchers call this the Summer Gap because, simply put, during the summer, a gap in learning is formed.  Fortunately, there are ways to combat this gap.  Aside from going to the public library and checking out its recommended (and age-appropriate) reading selections, you can also buy materials that will support your children’s education.  We’ve just finished a new Summertime Learning series, which centers on summertime activities and resources that will engage your children.  Each book contains eight weeks of language arts and math activities.  You’ll also find a recommended summer reading list, journal topics, educational and free Web sites, and stickers.

So let your children sleep in for a while.  They can even catch up on some TV and movies.  But be sure to give Summer Gap the smackdown and prove to your children that summertime learning can be entertaining, easy-going, and, much like Dylan’s McKay’s Porsche, a fun ride.

Summertime Learning Grade 3Summertime Learning Grade 5Summertime Learning Grade 4

A Classroom Journey from Frazzled to Dazzled!

Walking into a classroom at the beginning of a new year can make a teacher frazzled. “What should I teach?” “What kind of students will I have?” “Where am I going to get my supplies on such a small budget?” “How am I going to get this classroom in shape in just a week?” With a little help, the beginning of the year can go smoothly. Your frazzled look can turn into a dazzled look with the right tools.

After several years of teaching experience and ten years of being an educational editor, I now have some advice for frazzled teachers. As an editor, I have been able to go through many books and decoratives that would have come in handy when I was a teaching. As we all know, teaching is demanding and time is limited.

Need filler activities? No problem! Having a box full of writing prompt cards will always come in handy. Students might finish a task early or they might want a little extra something to do. Prompt cards are also a quick solution to a student’s dilemma about what to write when he or she is journaling. Also, have learning games available. Students can play the games and not even know they are practicing multiplication or learning their sight words. Don’t wait a minute!

Have a blank wall? No problem! There are so many cute border trims and calendars that are available. From polka dots to plaids, the designs are unlimited. Be daring! Some eye-catchers that I found are from artists like Mary Engelbreit, Debbie Mumm, Wyland, and Susan Winget. There are also some beautiful folders and teacher boxes for storing papers from these artists.

These are just a few ideas to get your classroom in dazzling shape—from border trims to prompt cards to learning games. If you need some help, I just may have a perfect book or decorative that will help you on your journey. Write back telling me of your troubles or successes. Your input just may help another colleague make it through the year!

New Supplies for a New School Year

There are many things you will find useful to have at the ready in your classroom. Hopefully, your school is well supplied and able to provide you with everything you need. However, that is not always the case.

In a perfect world, you will be supplied with each of the following to begin your year. If not, acquire what you can. Do not be afraid to ask for donations! Everything goes much smoother with the right supplies.

Once you gather your supplies, don’t hesitate in putting them away. Find locations that are convenient and logical. Don’t store all of your supplies in a big box in your closet and think that you will easily be able to access them later. Don’t throw them all into your desk to arrange later. Store and arrange them now in an organized way. The following list will be helpful in getting started. You may need to add to or delete from the list, depending upon your needs.

• lined writing paper (appropriate to grade level)
• blank drawing paper
• colored construction paper
file folders and pocket folders
• envelopes
• pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, pencil holder
• crayons and colored pencils
• markers and permanent markers
• masking tape and clear tape
• glue sticks and white glue
• yard or meter stick
• paper clips
• rubber bands
• pushpins, safety pins, and tacks
• scissors
• stapler and staples
• brads
• three-hole punch
• pointer
name tags or name plates
lesson planner and record books
hall passes
• dictionary and thesaurus
brain teasers
incentive charts
badges and awards
bulletin boards, border trim, and accents
headliners and banners
• chalkboard or dry-erase board
• chalk or dry-erase pens
• overhead transparencies
• overhead projector and projection screen
• first-aid kit
memory album