May 2013 archive

Summer Break Part 2: A Theme a Week

Yesterday I posted about SUMMER SCHOOL and how we will be bridging the summer gap between Kindergarten and 1st grade for my older son, with my 3-year old tagging along in our school adventures, too.  However, yesterday’s post was mainly about desk work which will only be taking up no more than 20 minutes per day.

Each week we will have a different THEME which will allow us to EXPLORE in depth different things that kids already ask a bazillion questions about.  The days will be filled with discussions, field trips, science experiments and art projects that go along with that week’s theme.  Will you join us on our journey to have the best summer ever???

1st month of summer

the mommy teacher

Below I have posted activity ideas for weeks 1-3!  Enjoy and help me brainstorm more ideas and comment below!

WEEK 1: SEASONS  (May 27-31)

Here are a few ways that we will be exploring seasons:

Music:  Four Seasons by Harry Kindergarten

And Dr. Jean’s song Macarena Months.  If you remember the Macarena, you can do those motions along with this song.  Who doesn’t love Dr. Jean and the Macarena?  Double bonus!

Art:  4 Seasons Art Project:  We will be gathering lots of random items around the house to design landscapes for each season (ex.  cotton balls for snow, green leaves outside for summer, Popsicle sticks for trees, etc.)

Math and Gross Motor Skills:  Sorting Clothes and dressing for each season!  We haven’t put away all of the winter wardrobe yet, so we will sort through clothes and create outfits for winter, spring, summer and fall.

Writing:  “What is your favorite season?”

Vocabulary:  Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall/Autumn, temperature, months of the year

Science/Math:  reading a thermometer, exploring the tilt of the Earth and how it affects the seasons

Math:  Calendar – taking a look at the summer months and seeing what we have planned

Reading:  We will be heading to our library each week to choose books to accompany our themes.  This is where it’s great to get to know your local librarian because he or she can help you find the books you need – maybe even before you get there!

WEEK 2:  WEATHER (June 3-7)

Music:  Weather Song For Kids: “The Sun Comes Up!”  from Dream English Kids

“Weather Song” from Have Fun Teaching!  This one is very informative and catchy!

Science and Math:  charting the week’s weather by observation, predicting what the weather will be later in the day and tomorrow

Art:  painting different weather scenes

Gross Motor Skills and Science:  playing in the sprinkler (rain) and making rainbows

Vocabulary:  temperature, precipitation, weather, sunny, cloudy, windy, rainy, storm, types of clouds, meteorology, meteorologist

Science:  making water tornadoes with 2 -liter bottles.  Fill one 2-liter 3/4 of the way and duct tape the two openings to the bottles (leave the caps off) together, turn your bottles upside down and gently move the bottles in a circular pattern to make a water spout inside.

Computer:  Interactive Weather for Kids:

Weather Wiz Kids:

ABCteach:  Weather:

 Music:  “My Whole Body Can Move” by Jack Hartmann

Dr. Jean’s “A Tooty Ta” always gets everyone moving and shaking!

Science and Vocabulary:  Discovering Outside Body Parts (arms, legs, hair, skin) and Inside Body Parts (heart, brain, lungs)

Art:  Bones Project (creating a skeleton using Q-tips)

Chalk Outlines:  we will trace our bodies with chalk in the driveway and will add hair, face, clothes, shoes, etc.

Hand puppets:  we will make sock puppets to use on our hands using old socks, yarn, googly eyes, markers and more

Stick Figures:  drawing specific objects is a learned skill so I will be teaching my kids how to draw stick figure people

Math:  counting fingers, toes, eyes, nose, mouth… What do we have the most of?  How many fingers do you and I have together?

Science:  the 5 senses:  Hear(listening for sounds), Taste (e

ating salty and sweet snacks), Touch (feeling different textures), Sight (turning off the lights and shining flashlights on different objects), Smell (flowers, different foods)

Reading:  My Body by Angela Royston and Sally Hewitt

Gross Motor Skills:  Exercise!  Practice hopping, skipping, jumping jacks, bending, and moving your body in every way!  Talk about how important it is to exercise and move your body to stay in shape!

Science, Health and Nutrition has information on nutrition for families, eating healthy on a budget, daily food plans, sample menus and recipes and more!  Amazing resource!

Field Trips:  Bowling!  Check your local bowling alley to see if they have the Kids Bowl Free summer program!

Find a local inflatable warehouse for your child to let loose and jump away (great for long naps later in the day)!

Playgrounds with equipment for climbing and balancing!


Please post below if you have any other activity ideas for our first 3 weeks of summer!  I hope you will join us on our quest to have the Best Summer Ever!!!  Stay tuned for updates on our activities, projects and ideas for the our other themed weeks!

Summer Break Part 1: Summer School

Happy Summer, Mommy Teachers!!!  Oh wait, MOMMY teachers don’t get a summer break!  For those of us with school-aged kids, we get to spend extra time with our big kids too – which means extra busy bodies in the house.

It is really important to me to maintain some type of schedule during the


summer or the kids and I could easily fall into the routine of staying in our pajamas, never leaving the house and then by 3 o’clock everyone is completely stir crazy.  Because of this, I am mapping out a daily schedule that includes play dates or errands, Bible study, school time, free time and more so my children will never have the opportunity to say, “I’m bored” or “Mom, when can we play the Wii?”  They will have one opportunity per day to either play the computer or video games.  Summer is a time for kids to unplug (for the most part – I mean, let’s get real… even Mommy enjoys her Mario Kart).

It is also important for school aged kids to stay on track for their next school year.  Many kids have to play catch up at the beginning of each new grade level because they forgot most of what they learned the year before.  As Mommy Teachers, it is our job to bridge the gap between grades on both an academic/cognitive level and a social level.

On an academic and cognitive level, this can be achieved by simply doing activities to reinforce what your child learned the previous year (think back to all of those homework assignments your child’s teacher sent home) or visit the website for the Common Core Standards which is what each child should know by the end of each school year (these have been adopted by the public school systems of most states).  And if your child had a super awesome teacher like my kindergartner did, chances are they will have sent home a packet for practice this summer.

Now, I am not particularly a fan of “hand outs” and worksheets, however, the 2 months off of school can break kids of the social behaviors that they learned in the classroom this year.  Social behaviors aren’t just interactions we have with other people, the are also what is expected of us when we are in different social situations such as sitting in a classroom, standing in line, and waiting our turn.   Just think about how those things prepared us for sitting at our office desk, standing in line at the grocery store, and waiting our turn to use the ATM machine.  So, in this case, a handout or worksheet a day, where your child sits correctly in a chair, pulled up to the table (not on the floor) is more than just working on maintaining academic knowledge; it is helping them retain that social behavioral expectation that they will need for the fall when they have to sit quietly at their desks to do work.

I recently made a trip to our local school supply store (it’s like the IKEA for teacher supplies – ah-may-zing!) and purchased a few summer school supplies for my kids.  Now, you can absolutely find free templates for a lot of these worksheets online (there are plenty on The Mommy Teacher alone), but my printer is B-R-O-K-E-N and this was cheaper for me than replacing the printer.

I bought 2 Summer Bridge Activities workbooks (on


e for each of my boys) that are specifically designed to align with the common core standards, reward charts, stickers, lined paper, and lined journal paper.  For every page they finish in their workbooks (or for when they work extra hard on a particular activity) they each get a gold star sticker (highly coveted).  When they fill up the chart we will take a trip to Jump Zone (their choice) as a reward for all of their hard work.



The lined paper is to specifically practice handwriting (one area that my 5 year old struggles in) and the journal lined paper is to practice writing paragraph stories and drawing a picture of what happens in that story (a kindergarten skill). Many kids will write a story of say, going to the store, and they draw a picture of  a tree.  This summer we will practice creating complex stories and adding detail to our drawings.  My ultimate goal is to make this activity FUN for my 5 year old because he absolutely despises writing and drawing (totally my husband’s child).  I may have to ::gasp:: resort to bribing for this one!

* This weekend I will be following up with posts about our summer schedule and weekly themed curriculum, so I apologize for the clumped posts, but summer starts today and I’m already off schedule!  Eep!

Playroom Toy Labels

I have been searching for a LONG time to find some cute and affordable playroom labels.  I wanted labels that had a coordinating picture with the word for each of the cubbies that I wanted to label in my playroom. Well, I couldn’t find any that I loved so I made my own and love how they turned out!

I feel so organized!

The black and white polka dot theme toy labels.

I am REALLY excited to launch my newest hobby with something I have wanted to develop for so long!

I made a few different backgrounds and I am selling them for an affordable price:

[Click HERE to become a member – get unlimited access to these playroom labels and ALL The Mommy Teacher Printables including this one!

OR CLICK HERE to purchase this Sets of Playroom Labels individually from my TeachersPayTeachers Store.]

So, I hope they work for you.

I printed the black and white labels on white cardstock.


Cut them to the size of my bin.


Ran them through my Cheap Laminator (that I love!)

Scotch Thermal Laminator Combo Pack, Includes 20 Letter-Size Laminating Pouches, Holds Sheets up to 8.5" x 11(TL902VP)

and hot glued them to my canvas bins (careful… this will strip the fabric a little if you need to pull them off)


Office depot can print them onto card-stock and laminate them for you if you want to bring your jump drive there because they have paper cutters there you can use, but I like the DIY approach 🙂

I hope you enjoy them, share them, PIN them, and find them useful for years to come.

PS.   Let me know if there are any other backgrounds or labels you are interested in with a comment because when I get a chance I can try to add some custom labels just for you 🙂

Imaginative Play Gift Idea

This weekend we went to a birthday party for a big boy 4 year old!  Now, since I have 5 and 3 year old boys, I am all too familiar with the likes and interests for little boys this age.  It can be pretty frustrating, actually.  You buy a gift that is say, $20, and they are more interested in playing with the plastic parts, twist ties and cardboard packaging that it came in.

Two Christmases ago, we hit the idea jackpot for least expensive Santa gift ever… a spy kit!  I bought cheap canvas backpacks from Hobby Lobby for $10 a piece and ironed on letters that spelled Agent J and Agent L.  Then I filled them with all sorts of random junk from the Dollar Store!  $30 per child… not bad at all!  So before I went to the store, I was searching the house, trying to decide what my boys’ FAVORITE toys are, and what did I see littered all over my messy house?  The contents of their spy kits!  I think a Mini-Spy Kit is PERFECT for Austin, the birthday boy!

And BONUS:  the idea of a spy kit encourages imaginative or pretend play which is really important for your child’s Physical, Linguistic, Emotional, Academic and Social Education (PLEASE) and development.  Here is a great article on the importance of Imaginative Play in Early Childhood.

Agent A is now an official member of SKIP (Spy Kit Imaginative Play)!


All secret agents need to have sole access to their kits via a thumb scan and number code.




Contents: bungee cords, tape measure, shoe laces, combination lock, glow sticks, flashlight, ear phones, watch, calculator, slingshot, mustaches (to maintain their secret identities), key clamps, safety glasses. You can add as many or as few items as you wish!


I taped this letter to the top and copied the text below. Feel free to copy and paste this into a word document, add your own agent names and print for your own use!  You’re welcome!

Free for your own use to copy and paste in a word document.  Remember to replace the bold words to meet your needs:

Agent A:

Congratulations!  Now that you are 4 years old you are officially a spy for SKIP (Spy Kids Imaginative Play)!  This spy kit will equip you with anything you may need to carry out your secret spy missions.  Beware!  Do not blow your cover!  Inside your kit you will find mustaches so you can maintain your secret identity at all times.

Only you will be able to access the materials inside of your kit.  You must first put your left thumb on the thumb scan on top of your box.  Then you must press the access code.  We will tell you this code once, and only once.  Please memorize it and tell no one!  The secret access code is 1 2 3 4.

Welcome to the club, Agent.  We know that you will be a good spy and will have many successful missions.

Happy Birthday,

Agents of the SKIP Academy

Agent J, Agent Capital L, and Agent-in-Training lowercase l

Birthday on a Budget

July 19th is my oldest son’s 6th birthday – OR as I like to call it – my 6th anniversary of becoming a MOM!  Birthdays are a BIG DEAL to us mommies, too – mostly because of the HUGE milestone ::tear:: of our babies becoming a whole number older – and partly because of the huge expense on the bank account of throwing a birthday bash.  And with 3 kids ::YIKES!:: it can be downright brutal to the piggy bank labeled, “parties.”  This is why I spaced my kids out evenly throughout the year (joking… I mean, not even I could have planned that one out)… but we do save up for each party… February-April for Baby Girl’s spring birthday, May-July for Big Bear’s summer birthday, and August-October for Little Man’s fall birthday… so, yup… we spend all year SAVING for birthdays, yet we STILL party plan on a small budget.

Now, let’s see… 5 + 3 = 8 boy parties (plus that one year where my oldest got two parties… so make that 9 boy parties and this year I got to throw my very first GIRL party… but before I share with you the details of the latest party I just threw, I want to give you a great way to plan on a BUDGET!  You ready?

Plan around what you already have!

Now sometimes it takes a little bit of creativity to see trash around your house and figure out a way to turn it into an awesome party detail, but open your mind and you’ll be surprised what you come up with!

Here are a few examples:

I introduce to you, the magical party power of trash!

Cardboard Boxes


Cardboard Box turned Sailboat High Chair

James birthday3

Cardboard Box Piggy Fort for an Angry Birds Party
(Notice all of the FREE diaper boxes on that fort!)

super why

Contact your local appliance store for extra large boxes
for a Super Why Super Readers Book Club!

Plastic (dollar store) Table Cloths

cars birthday

Black table cloth + masking tape = road for snack trays cars!
(Cars were found at a local diner that serves kids’ meals in cars)

table cloths

Plastic table cloths can add colorful, weather-proof decor to your outdoor party!

An Unused Croquet Set


Add some pink paint to a croquet set and you are ready to go for an Alice in Wonderland themed party! (the giant cards for wickets were purchased at a local party store)



I used a John Deere brochure to cut out pictures and put them in dollar store frames to use as decor around the food and cake tables for a Tractor-themed party.

and my personal favorite,


wall e

Having a broken lawn mower for a few months led us to discover that hundreds of tiny oak trees were growing in our yard – perfect for a Wall:E party!

Speaking of the Wall:E party, we reused the colorful watering can decor from the Angry Birds party and planted the trees inside (seen above).  Recycle what you can from one party to the next!


I painted this backdrop for my husband’s company picnic and for some reason it found it’s way back home with us. A month later, I was able to reuse it for my son’s Angry Bird party by just painting a few Angry Birds on it and changing the words on the banner! It was easier than making a whole new backdrop!

Last week, we celebrated my baby girl’s FIRST birthday!  (Fastest year of my LIFE, I’m telling you!)  The day could not have been more perfect!  And though I wanted to do every single little thing I saw on Pinterest for her first birthday, I had to stick to a strict budget.

I kind of lucked out, though.  See, a few years ago when my sister and brother-in-law got married, we decorated the whole wedding with BURLAP, so what do you do with BOXES of burlap lying around your house?  You throw a Southern & Sophisticated party for your daughter!

lena's birthday invite 2

I always make my own invitations on the computer and upload them to 4×6 prints are .19 cents each regularly and sometimes they have sales for .10 cent prints or 20% off all photo orders! Easy and cheap!

And a special THANK YOU to all of my friends who collected white and pink Mardi Gras pearls for me… and to my mom who collected all of my grandmother’s old doilies and crocheted table cloths… along with my sister who donated mason jars and burlap from her wedding… I was able to use the money I had budgeted for decorations to buy flowers to really make the party beautiful and southern and sophisticated!

And it helps to have incredibly talented friends like Natasha from Natasha’s Cakes, Brooke from Hails Angels Custom Creations and Jess from Barefoot Photography!


The cakes were made by Natasha’s Cakes in New Iberia, Louisiana!


Brooke from Hails Angels Custom Creations and I handmade burlap bow ties and hair bows for the party favors!



Jess Roberts of Barefoot Photography photographed the entire party and my daughter’s 1 year photo shoot, and made the incredible storybook sitting on the table! She is located in Opelousas, LA, and I HIGHLY recommend her!

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