Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Helping Your Teen with College Prep

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When my daughter got her pre-ACT scores back in the mail a few years ago, she was disappointed. Her scores were just a tad below the cut off scores for several of the colleges she had been considering.  This was a shocker to her because her classes were surprisingly easy, so she was getting As and Bs in them. In today's day and age, it seems the race to get into a good school is even more stringent than it was when I was in college. Here are a few tips for parents to help their teens prepare to take the ACTs/SATs.
 
 
Prepping before the test
There are several national learning centers that offer ACT and SAT prep courses.  We looked into those. We also ordered an Act Prep book.  It seemed to help her get a better grasp of what would be on the test and provided several practice tests for her to take.

Make sure your teen gets a good night sleep the night before the test. Tired brains do not function the same as well-rested ones.

Feed them a healthy breakfast. Nourished brains and silent stomachs make concentrating easier.

Remind them that there are always re-takes. Anxiety can often get the best of students when they realize how much is at stake in regards to their test scores.

Give them a pep talk. If your teen starts talking negative about their abilities, remind them of the successes they've had in difficult academic situations in the past.

Chew gum during study sessions. You'll find out the answer below.

Tips for teens during the test
Answer every question. New scoring standards don't penalize for wrong answers.

Don't waste time on questions that are challenging. If they don't know the answer, skip it and come back later.  This way, they're able to possibly get correct answers on the questions easier to them instead of them remaining unanswered.

If unsure of the answer, use process of elimination to narrow down which one or two answers could be the correct one.

Before starting, students should read and re-read directions to ensure they understand them.

Look at how many questions are to be answered in the given time. This allows students to calculate how much time they should spend on each question. Time management is key.

Chew the same gum during test taking. Studies show that there are cognitive benefits to chewing gum. Also, there are many theories that flavor recognition helps with memory retention. Crazy, right?!
 
After the test
Lower than expected scores can have a sobering effect on teens. But they allow them to see where they stand in the process.  Scores reflect what areas they excel at and where work is needed.

Remind your teen that their test scores aren't who they are. Some students excel in their high school classes, but don't do as well as expected on college prep tests.  This can be an unnerving experience.
 
The Princeton Review also offers some great information for college-bound students and their families. You can find SAT info here and ACT info here.

 



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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Beauty & The Beast ToysRUs Party: Build a Lumiere on March 25th

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(this post may contain affiliate links at no extra cost to you)
 
On March 25th, from 1-3 pm, select ToysRUs locations will be hosting a Beauty & The Beast Launch Party where participants can build and take home their own  LEGO Lumiere. We're planning on going because the Belle's Enchanted Castle Lego set is already on Sunny's birthday list.
 
 
 
Such a fun event for kiddos excited about Disney's new live action take on a classic fairy tale!
 
 



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Friday, March 10, 2017

Toddler Playschool: Z is for Zoo Animals {free printable}

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This is the last week of our Toddler Playschool lesson plans. Z was an easy letter as most kiddos this age LOVE the zoo! So I planned lots of fun toddler activities based on the zoo and the animals it houses.  This is our last free toddler activity printable for this alphabet series... and it's definitely an awesome one!
 
 
This curriculum is ideal for 2-3 year olds. We'll be reinforcing colors and shapes and introducing letters and numbers. There will also be exploration of different themes each week as we proceed through the alphabet. It provides a flexible framework of activity ideas that can used in the home or classroom. Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Please see here for more info.
 
Books
The View at the Zoo by Kathleen Long Bostrom
Zoo Looking by Mem Fox
Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle
The Zoo is Closed Today by Evelyn Beilenson
 
Songs and Fingerplays
The Animal Fair (Laurie Berkner Band)
 
5 Little Gorillas
Five little gorillas jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
The zookeeper called the doctor
And the doctor said,
"No more gorillas jumping on the bed!"
(repeat until no more gorillas are left)
--Traditional, altered
 
Old McDonald had a Zoo
(sing the traditional Old McDonald, but with zoo animals)
  
Literacy
Z Page for Alphabet Book
Create a page for the alphabet book. Each page is blank except for the week's letter. Children can be provided with an open-ended activity to decorate the page of their book.  Or you can use the suggested activities to set up an activity to create the page. Once done, pages can be laminated and bound with spiral binding or rings. You can find a template for this book here.   
 
 
Click the link below to download 


 If you missed any of the other lesson plans in this series, you can find them here:
 
I'd love for you to join us on our adventure! If you share on social media, use the hashtag #toddlerplayschool so I can see all of your wonderful activities!
 



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I'm Lucky Because... St. Patrick's Day Activity for Kids {free printable}

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There's something so jovial about St. Patrick's Day.  It's a day filled with legend, whimsy, and magic. On St. Patrick's Day, the leprechauns leave a little special something for each kiddo, but I wanted to do something special for them in the days that lead up to the actual holiday.  So I created this fun printable that I can use for the kids and that they can use for each other if they want.  The wall behind our dining room table is an odd shape due to a slanted ceiling so I hang a festive garland at an angle that coincides with whatever season/holiday it is. It is in this space that I decided to display these shamrocks.

 
I printed out the "I'm lucky to love you because..." sheet and colored in the shamrocks in different shades of green for each child. That way they could easily identify which was theirs.  My plan is to put a new one up every day from the 1st of the month until St. Patrick's Day.
 
Aside from this being a great activity to promote family love and unity, I thought it could also be used in the classroom or just as a little token to give extended family and friends. So I also made alternate versions for those purposes.  (You can get them below).
 

  
Click the link below to download 
 
Click the link below to download 
  
Click the link below to download 

 



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Monday, March 6, 2017

25+ Beauty and the Beast Activities for Kids

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Is your family as excited about the new Beauty and the Beast movie coming out as ours is? I'm not gonna lie... Myself and Pip (21) might be more enthusiastic about it than the younger two are. But, in preparation for the movie and for Sunny's first cinematic experience, I thought we'd do some Beauty and the Beast preschool activities. In planning, I was able to find some amazing examples of the ideas I had in my mind.
 
 

Here are some of the things we plan to do, plus a few more for older kids.
 
Belle and The Beast
 
Make a felt/fabric princess bag inspired by Belle.
Decorate princess "mirrors" made out of cardboard with paint and plastic gems.
Create felt princess crowns. You can even glue on gems if you like!
Make Princess playdough using this sweet smelling recipe and glitter.
Visit your local library and pick out some books sure to please Belle.
Break out the paint and make some Beauty and the Beast footprint art.
Perform an act of kindness (unlike the Beast did) with your children.
Make a Belle-inspired bracelet with pony beads.
Decorate a journal (composition notebook) that Belle would write in.
 
 
The Rose

 
Use celery to stamp some enchanted roses. Maybe you could even add some red glitter to the paint.
Visit a local botanical garden and see the varieties of plants and roses present.
Explore the science of color and roses with this classic science experiment.
Cook up some tasty fun with these yummy apple tarts.
Use real or synthetic rose petals to create a rose sensory bottle or sensory bin.
Create your own enchanted rose jar with this craft tutorial.
 
 
 
The Castle
 
Make a stained glass window like the one in the Beast's castle with tissue paper.
Make a castle for the Beast out of sugar cubes.
Use Duplo Blocks to create a castle fit for a Beast.
Stamp out a castle blueprint with building blocks.
Build a castle out of homemade moon sand.
 

 
 
The Help

 
Learn how to welcome others to "Be Our Guest" by practicing proper table setting.
Let children decorate their own tea cups using this tutorial
Use your empty K-Cups to make this darling Chip craft.
Have some quiet time with these coloring pages of the help and other B&tB characters.
 Set aside some time to have a tea party.
Recycle empty paper rolls into this Lumiere candelabra craft.
Play musical chairs to the tune of "Be Our Guest".
 
I'd love to hear about any activities you've done to celebrate this new movie or your thoughts after you see it.
 




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Friday, March 3, 2017

Toddler Playschool: Y is for Yum! Food is Fun {free printable}

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For the letter Y I thought we'd explore something that most kids like: food. Food is a fun topic for kids because it's something familiar, but also presents the opportunity to explore new things. So I culled our books and found our top five favorite books on food and planned activities around them. Check out the toddler activities on food that I put together in this free lesson plan for the letter Y.
 
 
This curriculum is ideal for 2-3 year olds. We'll be reinforcing colors and shapes and introducing letters and numbers. There will also be exploration of different themes each week as we proceed through the alphabet. It provides a flexible framework of activity ideas that can used in the home or classroom. Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Please see here for more info.

Books
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
Do Not Eat the Color Green by Lynne Rickards
 
Songs and Fingerplays
If You Mix Red and White
(If You're Happy and You Know It tune)
If you mix white and red, you get pink
If you mix white and red, you get pink
If you mix white and red, you get pink, that's what I said
If you mix white and red, you get pink
--Andie Jaye
 
I'd Eat it Anyway (Imagination Movers)
 
5 Little Peas
(Five Little Ducks tune)
Five little peas sat in a bowl
One pea said, "I'm getting cold!"
It rolled over onto a spoon.
Four little peas said, "We'll be there soon!"
(repeat until no little peas left)
--Andie Jaye
 
Literacy
Y Page for Alphabet Book
Create a page for the alphabet book. Each page is blank except for the week's letter. Children can be provided with an open-ended activity to decorate the page of their book.  Or you can use the suggested activities to set up an activity to create the page. Once done, pages can be laminated and bound with spiral binding or rings. You can find a template for this book here.  
 
 
Click the link below to download 


 If you missed any of the other lesson plans in this series, you can find them here:
 
I'd love for you to join us on our adventure! If you share on social media, use the hashtag #toddlerplayschool so I can see all of your wonderful activities!
 



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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Word Search for Kids {free printable}

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We're gearing up for St. Patrick's Day! Such a fun holiday with whimsy, legends, and a boatload of spirit! It's been a while since I shared a word search for kids with you, so I put together this one.   All you have to do is click the link below the image, download, and print!  You can use it in your classroom or for your kids at home to keep them occupied for a bit. 
 
 
 
 
 
Click the link below to download 

 



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