Summer is here and it is a welcome change of pace from the oh-so-busy routine of the school year. No more early wake ups, heaps of home work, and cramming so many activities into a single day. Instead, it's time to recharge the family batteries, stay up a bit longer, linger in bed and (most importantly) play! And I don't mean video games. I mean good, old fashioned running, swimming, bike riding, hide-and-go-seeking, laughing, smiling, get out and play time. Mix in a few trips to the library and the thrill of discovering a new favorite book and you're on track to setting your kids up for a great summer. But what about spatial and mathematic development? Thanks to Blocks Rock!, I have discovered just the ticket to keeping spatial skills sharp in a way that's super-fun for the whole family (even for Mom and Dad!) I can't wait to tell you about my new favorite game and you're going to love the discount code and giveaway that Blocks Rock! is generously providing for Kinder Craze readers. Ready to see the game your whole family is going to love?
Thank you to Blocks Rock! for sponsoring this post. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of our links, which helps to support the blog. I sincerely hope you enjoy today’s post!
Getting Started with Blocks Rock!
The Blocks Rock! game comes in a kit with two decks of playing cards (with two different levels of challenges), 24 solid wood building blocks, a game play bell, and a convenient carrying case. The game is super-easy to set up, just distribute the blocks equally between both players, choose a deck of cards for your game and set them face down, then place the bell within easy reach of both players.
It wouldn't be right to try out a new game for kids on my own, so I invited two sisters – Emma, age 8, and Cobie, age 11, to help me give Blocks Rock! a spin.
When we were ready to begin, Emma drew a card off the top of the pile and placed it face up for both girls to see.
Playing the Game
The card illustrates a block construction that both players compete to recreate in the shortest amount of time. The Level 1 deck features simple constructions, while the Level 2 deck challenges players to recreate more complex creations. Since these girls were older, we used the Level 2 deck. As soon as the first card was flipped, both girls raced to complete their structures.
Even with the level 2 deck, some towers were relatively simple, while others were a bit more complex.
The first player to recreate the image displayed on the card signals completion by hitting the call bell.
Even though she was three years younger than her competition, Emma quickly demonstrated her incredibly fast skills and attention to detail.
And again! I'm telling you this girl was fast.
We had to decide pretty early on how much we wanted to be sticklers for detail – particularly with the triangles. (The triangle blocks included with the game were isosceles triangles so their orientation mattered.) Since these girls were older, we all agreed that you had to be the first person to construct a perfect arrangement with the triangles oriented correctly and lined up exactly as the picture demonstrated to win the round. If someone rang the bell before perfecting their tower, the other player would have a chance to swoop in and correctly recreate the structure to win the round.
After losing several rounds to her little sister, Cobie finally finished her tower first and excitedly rang the call bell – only to discover that her tower was ever-so-slightly misconstructed.
Can you see the problem? Look at the lower triangle in her tower and compare it to the drawing. Yup, the triangle block was placed sideways, which meant Cobie begrudgingly watched her sister swoop in with a correctly built tower to win the round.
After watching Emma repeatedly school her big sister in Blocks Rock!, we upped the challenge for her. I handed Cobie the camera and stepped in to see if I could dethrone the queen. As it turns out, Emma was really fast. She beat me for a few rounds and I was determined to beat an eight year old at the game. I finally beat her during the fourth card that we played.
And then I got to win on a technicality – thanks to those green triangles.
I wasn't the only one who was determined to win. After seeing that someone could successfully built a tower faster than Emma, Cobie wanted back in the game for the satisfaction of a win. It took a few rounds, but it finally happened.
The face of victory!
And that right there is the reason why all three of us fell in love with Blocks Rock! It was fun, interactive, fast-paced, and the oldest person didn't have an automatic advantage. The fact that the youngest player was so good made us even more competitive (in a friendly way) to win a round.
Once we had been playing for a while, it was time to add up the points and see who had won. You may have noticed a small number in two of the corners of each card. Each tower was worth a certain number of points (from 1 to 4) and each time a person won a round, they kept the card from that round.
How to Win the Game
Figuring out who had won the game was simple – each player just added up the total number of points in his or her possession. Figuring out Cobie's total points was even more simple. She won a single round that was worth 4 points.
Her sister, Emma, had a bit more math to do. Emma added up her cards to determine a total score of 24 points. She was the winner by far. I'm sure you already figured this out, but Blocks Rock! packs an extra educational punch through addition practice. It's great mental math to add the points from a stack of individual cards.
Don't let the addition make you shy away from playing this game with younger children. If the players are too young to add the points, it's perfectly ok to just count how many cards each player has. So simple and so easy to adapt!
With a whopping 24 points, Emma was the reigning champ!
Additional Blocks Rock! Challenges on the FREE App
Ever since I became a mom, I've found myself stepping away from screens and technology – especially with children. I fear that most children have far too much exposure to screens and technology and I love any opportunity to replace screen time with hands-on, care-free, constructive manipulation of materials. That being said, I am kinda impressed with the Blocks Rock! app (available for iPad and Android) – which is free to download. The app has new challenges for game play that are much more complicated than the playing cards which come in the game. Players are still required to build physical versions of the images displayed on the tablet, they just use the app to generate challenges, rather than flipping a card. I might not be chasing after technology, but I do understand how screen time can be an incredible motivator or a special treat for a child. It's also a great way for a child to spend their daily screen time – since it involves a screen but is far more engaging than playing a video game or watching TV.
Blocks Rock! and STEM Development
Ok, so we know that Blocks Rock! is fun to play. We also know that it helps with spatial development and comes with the added bonus of addition practice. But can you believe that Blocks Rock! actually helps to develop critical STEM skills?
Sounds a little far fetched? I kinda thought so too, but I was reading up on some of the research on the Blocks Rock! website and learned about an interesting study from the Indiana University Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences:
This study corroborates with past research that structured block play needs to be a part of the young student’s classroom experience. With block-building games, like Blocks Rock!, being played, students will develop higher spatial reasoning abilities.
These students with higher spatial reasoning abilities will have a higher likelihood of furthering their education and future careers in STEM, a field that the United States so desperately needs to improve.
Save 10% on Blocks Rock!
I truly cannot say enough good things about this fabulous game that is so simple, but so much fun. If you're looking for a new way to keep the kids entertained this summer or for a great addition to your family's game collection – this is it! Blocks Rock! is available on Amazon and it is one purchase that you will not regret! Best of all, Kinder Craze readers can save 10% on Amazon if they purchase Blocks Rock! on Amazon. Just add Blocks Rock! to your cart and use promo code STEM2018 when you enter your payment information. It's super-simple and it's a great deal.
Enter to Win a Free Blocks Rock! Game
The only thing better than playing Blocks Rock! is winning a free game to play with your family. And one lucky Kinder Craze reader will get to win a free Blocks Rock! game for their home or classroom. Ready for your chance to win? Use the rafflecopter below to enter – good luck!
Reading month is coming to a close, but it’s not too late to incorporate a little celebratory art into your classroom – especially if you are counting down the minutes and looking for an easy way to fill the time until spring break can finally begin. Here is the perfect Cat in the Hat-inspired art project to share with you that’s super-easy to create, is engaging for students, and looks amazing.
This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.
First of all, I have got to hand it to my girl Jennifer from First and Kinder Blue Skies. She makes the best directed drawing activities that are super-simple, but look like a million bucks after the children draw them. Jennifer has a bunch of directed drawing activities for various seasons and academic content available on TpT – check them out now and thank me later – but wait until after you see the rest of these art projects!
Anyways, I wanted to recognize reading month and prepare for my school’s upcoming Open House, but I always seem to be short on time in the classroom (this year more than ever!) So I needed something quick and easy that would make an impact. We had just finished reading Dr. Seuss’ classic story “The Cat in the Hat” in celebration of the late author’s birthday and it was the perfect opportunity to introduce a fast art project.
So I stopped by the First and Kinder blog, downloaded the free Cat directed drawing activity, and proceeded to have a quick drawing lesson with my students on their whiteboards. I ALWAYS have my students “practice” drawing the picture on their personal whiteboards before we draw on paper. It’s easy to erase and correct mistakes with a whiteboard and a dry-erase marker and I find that the practice draw helps my students gain better spatial awareness for how the shapes will fit together on the page.
This is an example of a different directed drawing that my students completed in the fall when we read the book Go Away, Big Green Monster! It’s ALWAYS worthwhile to practice drawing on a whiteboard first.
On this particular day, we went right from practicing to drawing the Cat. (I always use white cardstock for drawing and paint artwork in the classroom. It absorbs the water nicely and the cardstock doesn’t curl like lightweight paper does when you add paint.) Once every child had a sheet of cardstock, I carefully led them through the exact same steps to recreate their picture on the white paper. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish for the class and I to gather materials, practice drawing on whiteboards, and do a second directed draw on cardstock.
My kindergarten students always draw their pictures with a pencil, and the next step is to trace on top of all the pencil lines with a black crayon. I find that the black crayon makes more of a bold visual impact than pencil, but it also serves a helpful function. We usually paint our directed drawings with watercolor paints and the wax of the black crayon creates just enough of a functional barrier to help keep the watercolors confined to separate areas on the cardstock.
After all that drawing and tracing, the only thing left to do was add color to our cats! The real Cat in the Hat is a bold tri-color white, black and red and I knew watercolor paints wouldn’t give that crazy cat the high-contrast look he deserved.
I knew that the bold colors and great coverage of tempera paint would be so much better for this project than watercolors. But I was in a hurry and I needed a quick, easy way to make these cats good. Kwik Stix to the rescue! I first discovered Kwik Stix a few years ago and was amazed at how easy they were to create rainbow paintings with my class. You see, Kwik Stix are solid tempera paint. Yes, you read that correctly. Solid. Which means no drips, no spills, no mess. Just gorgeous color with great coverage. Kwik Stix are sort of a cross between a glue stick and an oil pastel. Just turn the base to push up the paint, then gently rub the Kwik Stix onto paper for an easy way to “paint.”
I knew that Kwik Stix would be an ideal way to finish our Cat art projects without taking a lot of time or making a mess. Students came to see me two at a time to add black and red paint to their Cat drawings. They didn’t need paint shirts or have to wash their hands afterward!
I LOVE how adorable their Cat “paintings” turned out!
The student art projects were complete, but I had one last project that I needed their help with. I used our classroom projector to trace a giant Cat in the Hat onto white bulletin board paper. I outlined the Cat with a black marker and each student took a turn using Kwik Stix to help paint the Cat.
Our finished Cat looked amazing, the students loved being a part of a large-scale piece of artwork and I loved that there was zero mess. The paint went on smoothly, coated nicely, and dried instantly. It look less than 15 minutes for the entire class to have a turn painting part of the Cat. LESS THAN 15 MINUTES! Praise the Lord, because time is a valuable commodity in my kindergarten classroom, as I’m sure it is for you as well.
All of the classrooms in my school decorated their doors with to celebrate reading month. Our giant Cat in the Hat was the perfect decoration for my classroom door, and the painted Cats complimented it so well!
A common question I am asked about Kwik Stix is how long they will last. I own two sets of Kwik Stix, which I used to create eight rainbow “paintings” a few years ago, then we used the same sets to create twenty Cat pictures, plus the giant Cat in the Hat for my door decoration. They didn’t dry out at all in all that time and there is still plenty of leftover paint in those Stix.
STOCK UP ON SUPPLIES
Want to try these projects in your classroom? Click any of the images below to purchase supplies on Amazon!
And there you have it! An easy, adorable, Cat in the Hat inspired student art project to help celebrate reading month!
I love teaching color words in kindergarten. Unlike most sight words, the color words are relevant to a child’s world, are easy to conceptualize, and can creatively be put to use in the classroom. During our color word study, we learn a new color word every day and my students have so much fun with our color activities. It’s a lot of words in a short amount of time, but they don’t mind because it’s just so fun. And for many students, the color unit is just what they need to jump start their color word mastery. Other students need more time. Sound familiar? Today I’m thrilled to share a simple, but vibrant, booklet to help your students get one step closer to color word mastery for FREE. My students loved this project and I know that yours will too.
Thank you to ASTROBRIGHTS® Papers for sponsoring today’s post. I received payment from Astrobrights in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own and I only support brands and products that I use and absolutely love. This post also contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.
In my experience best way to help students that are struggling to learn their sight words is to provide opportunities for students to really study the letters in a meaningful way. Flashcards alone just won’t cut it if a child is truly struggling. But cutting, unscrambling, and gluing can make a meaningful difference.
A little bit of novelty also goes a long way. And there is something so magical to six year olds about a book with black pages. That’s right – black pages! I used Astrobrights Eclipse Black paper as the pages of the book. My students cut and glued vibrant letters to spell a different color word onto each page of their books. The bright Astrobrights colors really popped against the black background and my students loved making the pages of their books.
The entire time my students worked, I was absolutely amazed at their level of enthusiasm. The Christmas season is in full swing in my classroom and so is my students’ excitement. They were over the moon about this project and it brought a few moments of much-needed peace to my classroom.
After each page of the book was complete, it was time to create a cover. I did a rough cut of letters that spelled “Colors”, displayed the word on our classroom Smartboard, and let students choose their own letters to spell the title. They did so great with that task as well!
I love, love, love how these simple little books turned out.
Color Word Book Shopping Guide
Here are the exact Astrobrights paper colors I used to create a vibrant “Colors” book with my students. Click any of the links or images below to start shopping.
If your students are struggling to learn their color words, this project is for you! You can download all of the pages you need to create color books with your students. My students only spelled out the words red, orange, yellow, blue, green and purple; but I included black, brown, pink, white, and gray in the set in case you have another creative use for the letters. The download also includes two options for printing: one set displays proper spelling of each color word, the other set prints with scrambled letters for an additional challenge. Print the pages that are the best fit for your students.
Click the image below to download the materials to create a vibrant Colors book for FREE! Please note that most school email filters block the delivery of emails from me. I highly recommend signing up for the freebie using your personal email account. If you don’t see the download in your inbox, be sure to check your spam folder.
Have your kids joined the slime craze? Slime has become the rage with children across all ages, which is just fine by me because it’s a nice distraction from electronic devices. After creating mess-free glitter slime earlier this summer, my little helpers joined me once again for another round of slime-y goodness. This time, we decided to try out the new Rainbow Slime Starter Pack from Elmer’s, along with Elmer’s Magical Liquid, which instantly turns glue into slime. We had a blast making three different batches of slime (which we combined to create rainbow slime) and I can’t wait to fill you in on the fun.
Thank you to Elmer’s for sponsoring this blog post. I received compensation and free product from Elmer’s in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own and I only support brands and products that I use and absolutely LOVE. This post also contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission when someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.
As soon as they arrived, my young helpers couldn’t wait to dig in to the Elmer’s Rainbow Slime Starter Pack. It came with three bottles of Elmer’s Glitter Glue and an easy to follow recipe printed right on the box. We also had to gather a few additional basic supplies: contact lens solution, baking soda, three mixing bowls and spoons, plus measuring spoons.
(I wasn’t a fan of using my good kitchen bowls and spoons to mix glue and contact lens solution, so I purchased cheap materials from my local dollar store. You may want to do the same!)
Once the supplies were gathered, we were ready to get our slime on! We followed the super-simple to follow directions. The first step was to empty two bottles of Elmer’s glitter glue into mixing bowls. (We saved the third bottle for Elmer’s Magical Liquid … keep reading to find out what made it magical!) It took some serious squeezing to completely empty the bottles, which was a great form of fine motor practice.
Once all the glue was squeezed into our mixing bowls, we followed the instructions and added 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda to each bowl of glue and it was time to start mixing!
After stirring in the baking soda, the girls checked the status of their mixture. No slime yet – just two bowls of slightly thicker than usual glue.
We followed the kid-friendly directions and added 1 1/4 tablespoons of contact solution, which really made things interesting. The slime was beginning to form and got pretty difficult to stir. (Note that it doesn’t matter which brand of contact solution you use – as long as it contains boric acid and sodium borate.)
At this point, there was no other choice but to get their hands a little bit messy, which is great when you’re a kid! The girls used their hands to transform their mixtures from a sticky mess and into slime.
It took a little kneading, but the slime came together right in their hands.
We still had one batch of slime to complete to make rainbow slime. This time the girls worked together and we decided to try out Elmer’s new Magical Liquid.
Our slime creation began the same as any other batch: by squeezing a bottle of glitter glue into a bowl.
The nice thing about Elmer’s Magical Liquid was that there was no measuring, worrying about proportions, or reading contact lens solution ingredients. Each bottle of Magical Liquid is a premeasured, perfect amount to mix with one 6 ounce bottle of glue. The girls were very excited to see just how magical the liquid was.
The suspense was palpable as they dumped the Magical Liquid into the bowl of glue.
Then it was time to stir…
And get their hands a little messy.
Sure enough! The bottle of Elmer’s Magical Glue helped us easily create a perfect batch of slime.
Once we had our three small batches of slime, it was time to combine them to create rainbow slime, which truly tripled the fun!
Thank you to ASTROBRIGHTS® Papers for partnering with me on this blog post to create pennant letters for the classroom. I received payment, trade, and/or products from Astrobrights in exchange for promoting their products. However, all opinions stated are my own and I only promote brands and products that I use and love. This post also contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.
It’s that time of year once again! Teachers are back in school, back in the full swing of things, and summer already feels like a distant memory. Of course, back to school season always seems to have a few surprises in store for teachers, students and administrators. The biggest surprise of all: staff changes that occur after the first week of school. We’re currently going through one of those big transitions at my school when a new first grade teacher, “Miss T”, was hired after the first week of school. Poor Miss T was ecstatic about her new teaching job, but more than a little overwhelmed by the empty classroom before her. While she wanted to instantly create the cutest classroom possible, she needed to focus her time, energy, and attention on content and building relationships with her brand new students.
Fortunately, I happen to teach right next door and I always have a full supply of Astrobrights paper and cardstock on hand for any decor emergencies. And with Parent Night nipping at our heels this week, I’m pretty sure the situation qualified as a decor emergency!
Miss T did a little hurried classroom shopping on her own and bought a few borders and basic decor items to start decorating. Eager to help, I asked if she had a theme in mind and her response was classic chalkboard.
Selecting A Color Palette
Every great classroom design begins with a strong color scheme. I wanted to help Miss T make a big impact with minimal effort, but first we need a little direction. We brainstormed possible color schemes and decided to keep the classic school theme going with our color palate. We selected red, green and yellow to compliment the chalkboard borders and calendar pieces that had been purchased.
Astrobrights makes the best, most vibrant papers for classroom use and we decided that Re-Entry Red®, Gamma Green® and Solar Yellow® were the perfect accent colors for Miss T’s chalkboard theme.
Make A Big Impact with Pennant Banners
The clock was ticking as we prepared for Parent Night, so we got right to work on a simple project that would make a BIG impact. You may recall the pennant banners that served as subject area headers on Markeda Brown’s first grade classroom when she won the Astrobrights Brightest Teacher makeover last year.
I loved those pennants so much because they were easy to print, prep and hang. And thanks to the durability of Astrobrights cardstock, no laminating was required!
The boards in Miss T’s classroom looked fantastic thanks to the bright paper and chalkboard boarders, but the room was so sparsely furnished that we needed to add a little extra impact to help the space feel a little less empty. I printed three subject headers for Miss T’s bulletin boards. The letters were printed in a pattern onto Re-Entry Red, Solar Yellow, and Gamma Green cardstock.
Stringing the trimmed letters into classroom banners was super-simple. I cut a 1.5″ slit near the top corners of each letter and strung them onto 7/8″ black grosgrain ribbon.
The finished results made a big, beautiful impact in Miss T’s classroom.
You can easily recreate the same look in your own classroom. Here are the materials and resources we used to create this look.
Miss T’s bulletin boards were also trimmed with fadeless paper and chalkboard theme borders and accent decor. Click any image below to purchase them on Amazon.
Free Classroom Pennant Letters
Add a bold pop of color to your classroom with my FREE Pennant Letters. Just click the image below to get started. Enter your email address and the pennants will be delivered right to your inbox. If you can’t find them, be sure to check your spam folder. I recommend using a personal email address, rather than a school email due to the high level of filters that administrators put on school email accounts.
I personally love the extra bold pop that the black pennant letters bring to the classroom. I printed all of my pennants on my laser printer, which is much more cost effective than an inkjet printer. If you’re concerned about draining your printer, a low-ink pennant style is also included in the download.
Here’s to a great school year that’s fun, engaging, and bright!
Now that summer has arrived, it’s fun to take a break, head outdoors and have a little fun! I have been wanting to make slime in the classroom with my kindergarteners, but the traditional recipes with cleaning chemicals made me nervous about harming the sensitive skin of my students. Until I discovered the ultimate three-ingredient glitter slime recipe that uses completely safe materials. Even better yet, this particular recipe doesn’t require any messy food coloring. Do I have your attention? I promise this slime recipe is every bit as amazing as it sounds, and it’s a great summer activity.
Thank you to Elmer’s for sponsoring this blog post. I received compensation and free product from Elmer’s in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own and I only support brands and products that I use and absolutely LOVE.
Mess-Free Glitter Slime Recipe
Here’s the fastest, easiest, mess-free slime recipe that you will ever need. The fact that it is glittery is an added bonus!
1/2 TBSP baking soda
1 1/2 TBSP contact lens solution
6 fl oz Elmer’s Glitter Glue
UPDATE: I have recently learned that not every contact lens solution is ideal for making slime. Here are a few specific brands that may work for you:
Bausch and Lomb BioTrue (This is what I used)
Bausch and Lomb Sensitive Eyes
Bausch and Lomb Simplus Multi Action
Blink Revita Lens
Up&Up Clear Comfort
Up&up Moisture Balance
Opti Free Express Every Day Comfort
Find a bowl, cup, or plate to mix your slime in.
Pour the entire contents of a 6 oz Elmer’s Glitter Glue into the blow.
Add 1/2 TBSP baking soda to the glue and stir.
Add 1 TBSP contact solution to the glue mixture. Mix with a spoon until slime begins to form and gets firm.
Once slime becomes to difficult to stir with a spoon, take slime out of the bowl and use your hands to finish combining the ingredients.
If slime is too sticky, add 1/4 TBSP contact solution to the mixture. The slime will become significantly less sticky.
Making Glitter Slime
On this particular summer day, my friend brought her two daughters over for a little slimey entertainment. Making slime was an item on their summer bucket list, so this was a great opportunity to cross that item off the list and help me test out my new favorite recipe!
The first step was to dump an entire 6 oz bottle of Elmer’s Glitter Glue into our mixing bowl. All of the glitter and color for this recipe comes straight from the bottle of glue. This was my first time using Elmer’s Classic Glitter Glue, but I was an instant fan. All of the glitter and coloring stayed right in the glue. I love that I didn’t have to worry about getting stray drops of food coloring or bits of glitter on our fingers, clothes, or my cute little blue table.
My four year old slime assistant did an excellent job of squeezing out all the glue (and the teacher in me loved that it was a great way to strengthen her hand muscles!)
Once the glitter glue was poured into the bowl, it was time to add a few more ingredients. First up, a half tablespoon of baking soda.
Once the baking soda was added to the glue, the girls gave it a quick stir until it was evenly combined in the glue.
Then it was time for the magic ingredient: contact solution! We started by adding just one tablespoon of the contact solution.
It only took a few seconds of stirring and we could see the slime actually beginning to form.
A few more rotations of the spoon and we had a firm, sticky slime-like mixture.
At this point, the girls had to put down the spoon, reach into the bowl and finish mixing the slime by hand.
Our glitter slime was a little too sticky, so we added another quarter tablespoon of contact solution to our concoction.
The extra contact solution worked like a charm. The slimy bits that had been stuck to the girls fingers were easily removed as they finished kneeding the slime. The finished result was a firm, wet, slimy substance.
My little helpers stretched, squeezed, bent, and manipulated that slime in every imaginable way. They had a blast playing with their slime and I loved how this glitter slime recipe didn’t produce any mess or make me worry about the safety of their skin.
Elmer’s is the only brand of glue that I use in my classroom and it’s no surprise that Elmer’s Classic Glitter Glue was a great kid-friendly base for making slime. I am certain that I will be using this mess-free glitter slime recipe often in the future.
Father’s Day is just around the corner and I have the perfect Father’s Day craft for you to make with your students (if you are still in the classroom) or at home with your own children if you are on summer vacation. The best part is that even though this project is simple, easy to make, and inexpensive, the bold colors make it look spectacular when it is complete.
Thank you to ASTROBRIGHTS® Papers for partnering with me on this blog post. I received payment, trade, and or products from Astrobrights in exchange for promoting their products. However, all opinions stated are my own and I only promote brands and products that I use and love. This post also contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.
It’s sort of a Father’s Day tradition to gift a dad with a necktie at some point in his life. Dads can be so tricky to shop for since most men generally have everything they need and are satisfied with what they own. This sweet Father’s Day craft is a play on the traditional necktie gift, with an added personal touch: a heartfelt note from his child. The bright colors of the necktie pop against a plain white background, and it looks fantastic in a black 8×10 picture frame – like these bargain frames from the dollar store!
Creating the Tie
Getting started with this craft is so simple. I let my helpers pick their own necktie colors from the wide assortment of Astrobrights papers that I always have on hand in my classroom. I divided my paper into two piles: a bright pile and a bold pile. The girls were told to choose one bold color to be the actual tie and one bright color which would be used for the stripes on the tie. I wanted the contrast of the darker, bold paper to stand out against the white “shirt” background, and the lighter colored stripe would create an extra pop of color (and make it easier to read the personal message that each crafter would write to her dad).
Once the colors were selected, I copied the necktie template onto their chosen colors of cardstock (in this case Blast-Off Blue® and Celestial Blue™) and cut the bright paper color into 3/4 in strips for their tie stripes.
Then it was finally time to craft! The girls went right to town cutting out their neckties …
… and gluing the stripes onto their ties. The girls selected Rocket Red® and Vulcan Green® for their stripes. Both colors looked stunning paired with the two shades of blue ties.
If you want to keep expenses down, but want your students to have some choice in their colors, I highly recommend purchasing any of these multi packs of Astrobrights paper from Amazon. They provide a selection of colors in smaller quantities and have a great price. Click any of the images below to shop.
Anyone can go to the store and purchase a gift, but there is something so touching about letting children pour their love into a gift that they make themselves. And let me tell you, these two girls were meticulous about making the nicest gifts possible for their dad!
I provided a little guidance ahead of time and explained that if they ever looked at the stripes on their dad’s ties, they would notice that the stripes are all diagonal and aren’t generally straight (horizontal) on lines.
A lot of time was spent trying to perfectly space the stripes on the tie. You could have heard a pin drop while they worked.
Once the ties were perfectly striped, each girl used scissors to trim the excess paper from the edges of the tie. Using Astrobrights cardstock for the tie was particularly helpful at this point because the sturdiness provided an extra guide for the scissors to follow.
Preparing the Shirt Details
Once the tie was ready to go, it was time to work on a few details for the dress shirt. I handed each girl two triangles and a small rectangle that had been copied onto white cardstock. I explained that we really needed the black lines to be visible on the shapes so they would stand out against the all-white background that the tie would be mounted on. I asked the girls to leave a tiny bit of white border as they trimmed around the edge of each shape.
No surprise, they executed that instruction perfectly.
Assembling the Tie and Dress Shirt
Once the tie was complete and white accent shapes were cut out, it was time to assemble the craft! I handed each girl a piece of white cardstock that I had trimmed to 8×10″ and did a quick demonstration on how to assemble the various pieces. Then I let those hardworking girls go to town!
The white rectangle was placed vertically at the bottom of the sheet of cardstock -this represents the “button up” portion of the shirt.
Next came the tie, which is glued to the very top of the cardstock.
As a final touch, the triangles were glued at the top of the paper, overlapping with each side of the tie’s “knot” the same way a shirt collar would.
Writing a Message to Dad
Once the tie craft was complete, only one task remained: penning a sweet Father’s Day message. We brainstormed a few different ideas for the girls’ messages and then they went to work, writing a personal note for their dad on the light colored stripes of the tie. They each used a black Flair Pen to give their words a little extra pop and contrast from the bright paper color.
Framing the Father’s Day Craft
Once the tie craft was complete and a messages were written, these gifts were ready to give! They looked perfectly sweet on their own, but I added a simple black picture frame as an extra special touch. Don’t be fooled by appearances, the frames are from the dollar store and they only cost $1 each. And just look how stunning the completed Father’s Day craft turned out. I know of one local dad who is going to love the gifts his daughters created for him.
Free Father’s Day Tie Craft Template
If you want to tackle this Father’s Day craft with your students or your children at home, you are in luck! I have created a FREE template with patterns and all of the steps you need to recreate this project at home or school. Just click the image below to access your free Father’s Day craft template!
As a Catholic school teacher, I am always on the hunt for products and resources that help to develop a stronger faith formation in young children. I was so happy to discover HelloBible: a biblical-based Christian subscription box for children ages 4 and up. The sweet people at HelloBible graciously sent a premium box my way and I rounded up three of my favorite helpers (ages 7-10) to try out the box. I was so impressed with this service and can’t wait to fill you in on the details.
Thank you to HelloBible for partnering with me on this blog post. I received payment, trade, and or products from HelloBible in exchange for promoting. However, all opinions stated are my own and I only promote brands and products that I use and love.
A Look at the Noah Box from HelloBible
When I first opened my HelloBible premium box, I was surprised to see so many materials inside. Not just that, but these were great, high-quality materials. This particular box was the Noah Box and it came with Crayola markers, an Arch Book, two very cute ark-themed coloring pages, bubble concentrate, a small wooden box, stickers and so much more. I couldn’t wait to dig in with my three helpers and see what kind of fun HelloBible had in store for us.
Here’s a quick peek at all of the materials that were included in the kit. They literally included every supply we would need for the projects inside, right down to the markers and adhesive tape.
The only two items I had to procure on my own were a pair of scissors and a bowl for the bubbles. Fortunately, these are both very ordinary materials that most families have on-hand and at the ready.
Since HelloBible is intended to be a monthly subscription box, they have included four different activity ideas – one for each week of the month so you can continue engaging with the story and content all month long while you wait for your next box to arrive.
The fun begins with a faith-filled Bible story. My Noah box came with the book “A Man Named Noah” from Arch books. My oldest helper shared the story by reading it aloud to her two younger sisters.
After we read the story, the fun began! Each HelloBible premium box comes with two craft activities and additional discussion/prayer exercises to deepen a child’s faith and appreciation of the story.
Not only are the crafts unique, but they also come with clear, attractive directions for assembly (which makes my teacher heart go pitter-patter).
Noah’s Ark Matching Game & Craft
This first craft was a two-parter. We had to create an ark and prepare supplies for a matching game. This actually worked out great for my three helpers. Two of the girls each worked on preparing one side of the double-sided ark; while the third sister prepared wooden chips for the matching game.
The cardstock printed ark pages needed a rainbow to be colored on them and the ark shapes needed to be cut out.
Once we had two completed ark pictures, we used the adhesive stickers included in the kit to attach the ark to the small wooden handled box.
Next up was preparing the wooden chips for a matching game. As you know, Noah needed two of every animal to fill his ark. We attached pairs of animal stickers to the wooden chips. This task was super-simple and would be a great job for a young child.
Once we had our pile of animal chips and an assembled ark, we were ready to play the game! This simple matching game is just like memory or “concentration”. The girls placed all of the pieces upside down and took turns flipping two pieces over at a time, searching for a match. Each time they found a matching pair of wooden pieces, they placed them into the ark.
Blowing Giant Rainbow Bubbles
The second set of materials included in the kit, wasn’t exactly for a craft in the traditional sense, but it was a huge hit with my helpers. We headed outside to create giant rainbow bubbles. The bubbles themselves weren’t exceptionally vibrant in color. They had the subtle, shimmery multi-colored glimmer that all bubbles have. We constructed a bubble making device with two skinny wooden dowels, rubber bands and rainbow colored string.
The device was very easy to assemble and I will admit that I was very skeptical to see exactly how a couple of sticks, strings and rubber bands could possibly make giant bubbles. But I poured a little bubble solution into a bowl and added water as instructed by the kit, then we headed outside to see what would happen.
I honestly am completely in awe at how easy it was to blow truly giant bubbles with our little handmade contraption. All it took was a dip of the strings into the solution. Then the kids gently pulled the sticks apart to separate them – and just like that, a bubble began to form!
Once the bubbles began to form, we had a little trouble keeping them intact as the girls gently tried blowing them off of the device and into the air. But that didn’t slow them down one bit. It was really cool to see the bubbles form, even if our detachment success rate was far below 100%.
Understanding the Story More Fully
In addition to the craft activities, the Noah’s Ark premium box from HelloBible also had thoughtful faith formation opportunities and discussion questions. The questions are more meaningful than recalling simple facts from the story. Rather, they encourage children to reflect on their own experiences with promises, safety and trusting God.
A Purchase with a Purpose
I also love that a portion of the proceeds from all HelloBible subscriptions goes toward The Kilgoris Project, which educates and feeds children in rural Kenya. Not only that, but one of the “bonus” activities included in every box is to learn a little bit about the children of Kenya by visiting the HelloBible blog. Not only does this money go to a good cause, but it teaches HelloBible students the importance of Christian service to other parts of the world.
Save $5 on Your First HelloBible Subscription
If you are as impressed as I was by the sweet faith-filled activities that HelloBible delivers each month, I have great news! You can save $5 off your first HelloBible subscription. Just use discount code KINDERCRAZE when you check out for instant savings!
HelloBible 3-Month Subscription Giveaway
I truly fell in love with the premium box from HelloBible and I am thrilled to share a little of the HelloBible magic with you. I’m giving away a 3-month premium subscription to HelloBible to one lucky blog reader. Use the rafflecopter below for your chance to WIN!
Thank you so much to Connie and Simone from HelloBible for introducing me to this amazing Christian subscription box for children and sending a premium box my way. I truly cannot say enough good things about this sweet little bible-based activity box.
More than 120 days of school have passed, but we have not moved on from counting and building number sense up to 120. My class is doing such a beautiful job of learning to recognize and write all of their numbers from 1 to 120. I’m so unbelievably proud of them, but the wheels in their heads are still turning as they continue to build number sense, recognize number patterns, and understand how those numbers relate to one another. I’ve been using number puzzles in my classroom and this has quickly become the favorite go-to activity when students have extra time. I’m happy to give you a glimpse into my students hard at work on this simple number activity, share a free download to create your own number puzzles, and tell you all about this year’s Brightest Teacher Contest from Astrobrights.
Thank you to ASTROBRIGHTS® Papers for partnering with me on this blog post. I received payment, trade, and or products from Astrobrights in exchange for promoting. However, all opinions stated are my own and I only promote brands and products that we use and love. This post also contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.
Interactive Number Practice Beyond the 100th Day of School
My class celebrated the 100th day of school last month, which means that I created an assortment of fun, 100-themed centers for one very special day last month. My 100th day activities did include number puzzles (much like these.) The only problem is, one day of hands-on fun unscrambling numbers up to 100 and putting them in order wasn’t enough hands-on practice to really help my students dive deep into number patterns and relationships on a 100 chart (and it certainly didn’t help them master their numbers up to 120.)
I recently created a slightly more challenging set of number puzzles that go all the way up to 120 and my goodness, were my students excited to see the really BIG numbers in the puzzle (and by big, I mean numbers beyond 100). They were thrilled by the prospect of a challenge.
I created a puzzle work station that had several individual number puzzles and 120 charts to use as a guide. Kindergarten students aren’t always mindful about their work spaces so I copied each number puzzle onto a different color of Astrobrights cardstock. This way, my students could tell at a glance exactly which pieces belonged to which puzzle. I love for colors in my classroom to pop, so I used Martian Green, Lunar Blue, Cosmic Orange, and Outrageous Orchid to really make the pieces stand out. There was zero confusion, which helped them to manage their own supplies and allowed me to focus my time and energy on teaching (rather than sorting out mixed up puzzle pieces).
Having blank 120 charts nearby was helpful in gently guiding my students through the puzzle. It provided a helpful reference for them. Most children placed the puzzle pieces directly on top of the puzzle the first time they worked (which was fine by me – there’s still great value in matching numbers and an opportunity to discover number patterns through observation).
I loved watching this student’s progress as she worked to complete her 120 puzzle (and the Outrageous Orchid coincidentally matches her dress beautifully).
Once children successfully completed a puzzle on top of the 120 chart, I encouraged them to work on a “challenge” puzzle and recreate the same puzzle without the blank chart as a guide. My kindergarteners eagerly rose to this challenge!
These number puzzles were easy to prepare and highly engaging for my students. Add the fact that the materials were affordable and the bright colors of Astrobrights cardstock made the puzzles even more appealing for my kindergarteners and this activity was a total home run.
Prepping the Number Puzzles
These number puzzles were so easy to prepare for the classroom. I copied several 120 charts onto white cardstock, and also copied the same chart onto different colors of Astrobrights cardstock. I laminated all of the 120 charts and kept the white charts intact so my students could use them as a reference while they worked. The next step was to cut the colored charts into smaller puzzle pieces. There is no right or wrong way to cut the pieces. I try to create various unusual shapes (rather than just squares and rectangles) but you can do whatever you think will work best for your students.
Easily Differentiate the Number Puzzles
There are so many things I love about this activity, but one of my favorite tricks is that I could easily differentiate the puzzles. The orange puzzle I created has only 9 pieces, the yellow puzzle has 11 pieces, and the other puzzles have several more pieces. You can see the difference in size between the orange and purple puzzle pieces below.
The fewer the pieces, the easier the puzzle. Which is a great way to make this activity accessible to all students – even the ones who struggle. Just hand those children an easier puzzle and they get the satisfaction of doing the same activity as their friends, while minimizing the likelihood of frustration.
Likewise, if you have a few students that breeze through this activity, you can always create a more challenging puzzle with smaller pieces.
Don’t Let the Pieces Slide
As you might imagine, trying to arrange laminated puzzle pieces can be a bit of a challenge. Those laminated puzzle pieces are pretty slick and they move very easily. My kindergarteners are still developing their fine motor skills and I didn’t want them to become unnecessarily frustrated by puzzle pieces sliding around while they were trying to work.
Luckily, there is a super-simple solution to this problem. I placed a small piece of double sided tape onto the back of each puzzle piece. I personally prefer the “permanent” Scotch double sided tape with the yellow packaging because it last so long.
You don’t want the puzzle pieces to stay on the table top or white number chart forever, so I recommend gently tapping the tape with your finger tip a few times after it has been applied to the back of the puzzle piece. This helps reduce the “stickiness” of the tape so it’s re-positionable and not permanent.
Number Puzzle Storage
When the number puzzles are not in use, the pieces can easily be stored in sandwich size zipper bags. I also keep a stack of white 120 charts in a nearby tray for easy student access.
Shop For Supplies
Ready to create some number puzzles for your own classroom? Click any items in the widget below to stock up on Astrobrights cardstock and other materials from Amazon.
Create Your Own FREE Number Puzzles
You can create these number puzzles in your classroom as well. Just click the image below to download your free 120 chart and puzzle template. I hope your students enjoy these puzzles as as much as mine do!
Nominate A Bright Teacher for a Classroom Makeover
Do you know a bright teacher? Nominate them for the 2017 Brightest Teacher Contest from ASTROBRIGHTS® Papers. The winning teacher will be awarded a classroom makeover valued at $5,000 It’s easy to nominate your favorite teacher. Just hop over to ColorizeYourClassroom.com and tell us why he or she shines a light on everyone around them. Just act fast because March 26 is the last day to nominate a bright teacher.
I had the great honor of helping to plan and set up the classroom makeover for last year’s Brightest Teacher. The Bright Minds ambassadors designed the classroom together and I am in love with Markeda’s new classroom. I am so excited to find out who this year’s winner will be!
In case you haven’t heard the good news, let me let you in on my little secret: I’m going to be a mom! My husband Rob and I are so excited to be parents this July. We announced the big news to our family and friends last week and shared a few details about the pregnancy on our lifestyle blog, Crazy Together. We had a plan for the exact way we were going to share the news with our parents, siblings, friends, and everyone else. But there was a very special group of kindergarteners that deserved to hear the news in a very special way. If you’re an elementary teacher who’s pregnant and struggling with the same dilemma, I’m happy to share my own classroom pregnancy announcement and hopefully provide a little inspiration on how to tell your students that you’re pregnant.
I wanted my students to hear the good news directly from me, but I didn’t want to focus too much of our precious learning time on my personal news, so I created a short and sweet way to announce my pregnancy to the students.
My Teacher Secret
To begin, I gathered my students near our classroom calendar and told them that I had a secret to share with them. As you might imagine, those 5 and 6 year old students perked right up at the sound of the word “secret!” I told them that in order for them to know my news, they would have to use a secret code to solve the mystery. At this point, their eyes were as big as saucers and bursting with excitement.
I showed the class the sweet little worksheet I had created for my pregnancy announcement and demonstrated how to use the secret code. I only showed them how to solve the first four letters and the class quickly figured out that the first two words on the page were “Mrs. Gavin.”
Once I was confident that everyone knew what to do, I gave each child their own “What’s the Secret?” worksheet and watched them go to town.
You could have heard a pin drop while the class worked to crack the code and every single child in the class was able to successfully identify the correct letters to complete the activity.
Reading the Secret Message
As you would probably guess, some students completed the page very quickly and others needed extra time. The quick finishers just stared at their freshly decoded papers and tried to figure out what it said. I knew the message was too difficult for many students to read, but I figured I could count on a few the higher-level readers to solve the puzzle and blurt out what it said (thus, making the announcement for me).
After seeing a perplexed look on every student’s face, I decided to jump in and help out.
I asked the class, “So what do you think it says?”
Almost everyone chimed in with “Mrs. Gavin is …” and then they came to an abrupt stop.
Apparently having was a really difficult word for the class to read. I asked if anyone had a guess what that hard word might be. Someone guessed “have” and I said “it’s a lot like the word have”. This was followed by more silence. We’ve been discussing reading strategies so I let the students know that it’s ok to skip a hard word and come back to it.
Which was fine, except everyone proceeded to get stuck on the word baby.
Again I asked out loud, “What do you think it says?”
At this point, I’m pretty sure that one of the girls in the class had a good guess about the message. I swear she gave me a funny look and checked out my belly. I met her gaze, leaned down and whispered, “What do you think it says?” The question was met with yet another “I don’t know.”
At this point, the entire class had been stumped for a few minutes. They wanted to know the secret so badly, so I once again asked if anyone had any idea what that hard word that started with an h might be. After a few incorrect guesses, one student finally called out “having!”
Within a few seconds the class was able to finally read the rest of the secret message that Mrs. Gavin is Having a Baby!
Praise the Lord, they figured it out!
As you might expect, my students had a few questions about when the baby will be coming and why I don’t have a big belly. They also wanted to know if it would be a boy or a girl. I told them that the baby would arrive this summer and that my belly will start growing soon and get bigger as the baby grows. I also explained that we won’t know if it’s a boy or a girl until the baby is born (Rob and I want to be surprised), but that I did have a photo on my phone.
I walked around the classroom and showed each student my most recent ultrasound picture, pointing out the head, body and legs as I traveled around the room. One student told his mom that he thinks I’m having a boy, which is undoubtedly the first of many student predictions.
Free Classroom Pregnancy Announcement
If you are a classroom teacher looking for a sweet way to announce your own pregnancy, I’m thrilled to share this simple secret code worksheet with you. It’s the perfect way to tell your own students that you’re expecting. The free download includes a general “My Teacher is Having a Baby!” pdf as well as an editable PowerPoint file that you can use to personalize the activity with your with your own name. Click the image below to download your free Secret Code Pregnancy Announcement!
If you know of any other creative ways to tell your students that you are expecting, please share your ideas in the comments. Elementary teachers always have the cutest ideas!