Learning multiplication with mnemonics

This week my children learned their 3-4 multiplications facts in just 45 minutes using Times Tales. I am so serious! The best part is they were having FUN!

This week we will be working on the 6-9 facts and I can't wait! Just thinking about my boys learning all their facts in two weeks without excessive drilling makes me smile really big.

Times Tales is a creative, innovative mnemonic-based program that makes it fun and easy to memorize multiplication facts. Times Tales uses cute, simple stories to help students quickly recall multiplication facts.

I am using the new Times Tales DVD and find my kids prefer watching the DVD over me reading the flip-book to them. I also printed off the flashcards and quizzes to reinforce their learning.

To read a thorough review by a TBA author, who is also the most well-known elementary math expert on the web, please CLICK HERE.

For more information on this product, visit www.TimesTales.com or watch the video below.

Have FUN learning the multiplication facts!

My Secret Writing Weapons

These are my favorite writing tools that slash the editing process for me in half- for real!

I get so tired of my children asking me how to spell words when they are writing. I also feel that they become dependent on me to spell words for them. To curb that habit, I have my boys use a spelling dictionary. This resource helps my children to learn how to write independently. Now I rarely get the question, "Mom, how do you spell...?"

This is definitely the best spelling dictionary for elementary children that I have found. It is certainly worth the $6.00! Besides listing words in alphabetical order, it also has several pages of words for particular themes. 

Another timesaver I have used is using checklists, which children can use to edit their own work or a partner's work. Children enjoy acting like the teacher, and they will usually edit someone else's work much better than their own.

Something I have learned from my own editor in writing books is that a peer can easily spot mistakes that the writer cannot. I can easily edit other people's writing but I am the worst editor of my own writing.

When I begin to grade my children's writing, most of their work has already been spelled correctly and edited. Now I can focus on the main writing concepts they need to improve on instead of the minor repetitious errors.

Enjoy inspiring independent writers!

Writing Prompts for every day of the year!

Do writing prompts for every day of the year sound too good to be true? 

Even better yet, they are completely FREE! I just love these and plan to use them this school year.

{CLICK HERE} to see these creative writing prompts.


Interview for Classroom Blog Contest

I'm so excited about TBA's award and my recent interview for Really Good Stuff. I feel very blessed to be a part of such an amazing community of educators. To God be the glory!

CLICK HERE to check it out.


The BEST Writing Resource I have ever used!

When I begin planning my children's reading curriculum for the upcoming school year, I use this list as a reminder to include several different types of genres (categories) of literature.


Fairy Tales
Tall Tales
Science Fiction
Realistic Fiction
Historical Fiction
Informational Books
Picture Books
ABC Books
Counting Books
Concept Books
Pattern Books
Wordless Picture Books

 Click on the image above to print the genre descriptions
on a great reference page for FREE created by Hilary Lewis.

When I plan my children's writing lessons, I also try to incorporate several of the categories listed above. This summer I was shopping at a homeschool convention with thousands of different books and resources for educators to sift through and I struck gold! I found the most inventive writing resource written by an elementary teacher that totally engages the writers in such a FUN and creative way!
Kids Write!: Fantasy & Sci Fi, Mystery, Autobiography, Adventure & More! (Williamson Kids Can! Series)

It even includes the different genres of literature!

A couple of weeks after purchasing Kids Write!, my children saw me reading it and started asking A LOT of questions, such as "When can we start? Do we really have to wait until August? Can we start this week? Please, Mom, please."

What educator/mother would say no to her children begging to write stories? "Of course we can start this week!" I exclaimed with joy.

I had my boys choose which section they would like begin and they chose the Fairy Tales/Fantasy chapter. They quickly began constructing a castle for their fairy tale setting. They even added action figures for the characters.

Next, we began reading fairy tales and started a fairy tale unit using these fabulous resources.


This week, they are ready to begin building a robot for their next fantasy story.

My favorite part of Kids Write! is it invites the child to actually become a part of the story. There is an art project or activity that immerses the child into the setting and/or character, which makes it MUCH easier for the child to write. I just LOVE this book and so do my kids!

{Click Here} to view the fairy tale my boys wrote for their baby sister's first birthday. It is so precious!
{Click Here} for a Mad Libs fairy tale for a fun way to practice the parts of speech.

{Click Here} for hundreds of fairy tale printables from www.education.com that you can narrow down by grade level and subject area. Here are a few examples below.

Enjoy making writing FUN!

Cool Tools for Creative Writing

Here are some cool tools for creative writing that I enjoy using with my kids.
Each one helps a child choose a setting, characters, and a plot. Just click on each image below to learn more about each project.
Learning Resources Story Starter Cubes, Set of 6

Here is a video that explains some of these writing tools.

Enjoy creating stories!

This writing assignment is part of 101 Ways to Make Writing FUN!

Have your child make real books!

For narrative writing, consider purchasing "bare books" at www.barebooks.com. These inexpensive, hard-cover books have blank pages your child can either write his final copy on or cut and paste his typed writing on. Using these books, your child can turn his story into a real book to share with others! You can print graphics for the cover, and use clear contact paper to protect it. Even in middle school, my oldest son would make a few of these each year just for fun.


Canvas Print Giveaway- hurry, hurry!

I LOVE photos! I have approximately 50 photo albums- all scrapbooked. I enjoy preserving every bit of time I can with my kids. Rarely a day goes by that I don't take a few photos. So when Easy Canvas Prints contacted me to do a review for them, I jumped at the opportunity!

Easy Canvas Prints is the perfect name for this company. It really is "easy" for the customer to order from their website. It literally took me five minutes with their simple instructions. The hardest part was selecting a photo to use prior to ordering. 

As a mom whose heart melts when my husband holds our little baby girl, I finally made the decision on which photo to use. It is nothing fancy but it catches a moment in time when our family was at the beach this summer and my sweet baby is laughing and hugging her daddy. (I have tears in my eyes as I am typing this.)

This is the image that I chose. Doesn't it look great on the canvas? What a treasured piece of art that I will enjoy forever!

Can I tell you my favorite part about this canvas print? 

I work a lot in my office, which is also my kids' playroom, and that is why I decided to hang the canvas there. My baby girl will be sitting and playing with her toys and then she'll look up and notice her daddy on the wall. She'll put her toys down and will motion for me to pick her up so she can kiss him. I think this canvas has 50 kisses on it from her and it is only 3 days old. (I am sure this is not great for the canvas but it is priceless to watch.)

Being the frugal stay-at-home mom that I am, it was only natural for me to do some comparison shopping. I was quite surprised that I could not find a better price for canvas prints anywhere on the web- I am being completely honest. I even thought I could get a better deal on-line at Costco but the canvases from Easy Canvas Prints still cost less. 

The quality is terrific for that low price. There is some color variation from the original photo I submitted but I've been told by a photographer that differences in color is typical when printing on canvas.

I definitely would recommend this product as a special keepsake or even to give as a wonderful, unique gift. 

If you would like to win a canvas print of your very own, follow these very simple rules.

Leave a "High Five" at the bottom of this post so I know you read this review. Following my blog is optional but always welcomed. ☺

Then hop on over to TBA by clicking the giveaway button above and become a member/blogstalker and leave a high five there on the giveaway post with your email address (if it is not listed in your profile information) so I can contact the winner via email.

That's it! It is so easy to enter! Hurry, this giveaway is for a limited time! Winners will be announced on Friday 29, 2011. Good luck!


Free Award Maker

I love making awards for my students and my own kids. Look at one of the several FREE resources offered at Lakeshore Learning:
An award maker!

How cool is that?
 You can create awards for FREE 
and then print them off!

A BIG thank you to
 for sharing this fantastic resource.



FREE E-book to teach States and Abbreviations

I just found a FREEBIE that I want to jump for joy over! I was looking for a resource for all my kids to teach the state abbreviations (ages 8, 9, and 17- a review) and I hit the jackpot! Look at what I discovered!

This 29-page FREE E-book includes everything you need to teach your children the states and postal abbreviations — lesson plans, worksheets, flashcards, printable maps, and more. Written to be used with children of any age, this E-book will equip your children with information much more useful than learning just the states and capitals.
CLICK HERE to grab this Free E-book.

Listen to what the author of this FREEBIE says:
"One thing that is lacking in most curriculum is a good way to teach postal abbreviations. Sure, postal abbreviations don't sound very important at first, but think about how many times you see them? On the news. In books. In the mail. At the airport. Knowing the difference between MI, MO, and MT is probably more useful that we realize. Furthermore, it's absolutely necessary that our children learn the locations — and not just the names — of each of the states in the U.S.

Not only is this an AWESOME ebook but you can also CLICK HERE for a game to practice learning the state abbreviations. And as you already know (and if you don't, take a quick peek at my videos on the sidebar) I LOVE using games with practicing concepts!

A BIG thank you Joy Miller for creating this wonderful resource for educators!


Fourth of July Dessert Pizza

My boys wanted to make a special Fourth of July dessert this year so we made Dessert Pizza!
First, we lightly buttered the bottom of the cookie sheet. Next, we took three tubes of sugar cookie dough and rolled the dough and pressed it down with our hands into a cookie sheet. We were careful to leave a buffer of at least one inch around the edges.

We baked the cookie dough according to the temperature stated on the package but we did bake the cookies about five minutes longer than recommended since the dough was a little thicker than making cookies.

While the cookie dough was cooling (we cheated by placing it in the refrigerator), we made the icing. We added 16 oz. softened cream cheese and 16 oz. of marshmallow fluff. We mixed these ingredients together for a couple of minutes.

Next, we decorated the cookie cake with the icing, blueberries and strawberries.

 The final step (besides eating it) is to lightly sprinkle powdered sugar all over the cookie cake.

Even though the flag was not accurate, it was a lot of fun to make and it tasted delicious, too! 

It was Charity's first Fourth of July- so precious!