Color the Stars & Stripes Bookmarks for 4th of July

Summertime is a great time to encourage kids to enjoy leisure reading. Even if you don’t celebrate Independence Day here in the U.S., these stars and stripes bookmarks give kids a fun excuse to crack open a new book!

 

Color-Me Bookmarks: Stars & Stripes for 4th of July. A fun Independence Day excuse to keep the kids reading.  Free printable for kids.

 

Simply print, cut, color, and find a good book to put your bookmarks into. Be as creative as you wish with all that red, white and blue.

 

Want even more 4th of July printable freebies? You might enjoy these:

 

Independence Day Visual Tracking Printable

Track the Stars and Crack the Secret Code

 

 

 

 

Seek and Find and Color Me Stars

Seek and Find and Color-Me Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Printable Paper Scene "Summertime"

Printable Paper Scene: Summertime

 

 

 

 

Plus you’ll find an Independence Day Visual Memory Matching Game in my store here:

An Independence Day Visual Memory Matching Game for the 4th of July.  Part of a Holidays bundle to strengthen children's visual memory skills and more.The Holidays

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Center Management Ideas for Struggling Students

For parents and teachers of struggling students, some of the many helpful resources out there may not necessarily be targeted to those with learning challenges.  I’d like to introduce you to a few hidden gems from Teachers Pay Teachers.  My hope is that these not-so-obvious resources make your efforts to help your child improve learning abilities a little easier.  Let’s begin our treasure hunt with Melissa’s Teacher Mall.

 

Melissa's Teacher Mall specializes in:       * Differentiated Learning      * Common Core      * Center/Station Activities for use during Guided ReadingHi Everyone. I am Melissa from Melissa’s Teacher Mall. I have been teaching since 2006. I opened my Teachers Pay Teachers store because I wanted to highlight the benefit of centers/stations. I find that my students really blossom in small group instruction and I wanted to share my resources with other teachers.

 

In our center rotation we have 2 games centers. Parents can play these games at home with their children to reinforce any skill the child needs.

 

Using sight words cards in centers or stations.

The sight words cards I used with my Kindergartener.

Just grab a set of task cards. You can make your own or purchase a set. Task Cards are just fancy flash cards. They can be very basic or very detailed.

 

Look for a set that targets what you are working on with your child. Use cards that challenge your child. And make up a game. The basic instructions are below for the games we use in our classroom.

 

 

Game board for centers or stations.

Here’s a game board I made for my train lover.

  • Game Boards – Use a Chutes and Ladder Game Board or any game board, a set of dice and task cards in the subject area your child is struggling. The player must answer the question on the task card correctly before they move. This is a fun way to reinforce any skill. As you play you might want to get a few wrong just to show your child that you are not perfect.
  • Showdown – Stack task cards in the center 1st player reads the top card. All players write the answer on a piece of paper or wipe off board. Turn your paper face down and wait for everyone to write their answer. When everyone is ready the answers are revealed. You can keep score by getting a marker or chip for each correct answer or make tally marks on a piece of paper.

 

Make a memory with your child, play a game. Just remember games should be fun. It is OK to be silly and I usually let the kids win.

 

Melissa’s Teacher Mall specializes in differentiated learning, Common Core, and center/station activities for use during guided reading.   Find Melissa’s Teacher Mall here on Teacher’s Pay Teachers.  Check out her blog here.

 

 

My Dad the Superhero, A DIY Printable Book for Kids of All Ages

What child, at some point in time, hasn’t believed his dad was a superhero? Okay, so that moment may never last as long as dads would like, probably ending right around the time children learn to tie their own shoes. That doesn’t mean the admiration is gone. This Father’s Day, wouldn’t it be nice to let Dad feel like a superhero again?

 My Dad the Superhero, A DIY Printable Book for Kids of All Ages. Great for Father's Day, birthday, or just because.

Kids can surprise Dad with My Dad the Superhero, a one-of-a-kind Father’s Day card OR a very personal stand-alone gift. (Great for birthdays, too.)

 

Just as with My Mom the Superhero, each page begins with a writing prompt. Children old enough to write can finish each sentence by writing why Dad is such a superhero in their eyes. Younger kids can either draw or cut and paste pictures into the spaces provided.

 

Easy Instructions

This superhero themed pdf is designed to be duplex printed. Don’t mind the upside down pages. Those are intentional. Use standard printing paper unless the kids want to color with thick, bleed-through markers. In that case, card stock may be better.

 

The simplest way to create this mini-book is to remove all 5 duplex printed pages from the printer together. Fold the entire stack in half, then staple the pages or sew them together with string or ribbon. If the pages somehow wind up out of order, simply refer back to the original file or to the order of pages listed below:

 

  • Cover page
  • My dad is a superhero because… he always knows…  
  • My dad is a superhero because… he’s really good at…
  • My dad is a superhero because… he helps me…
  • My dad is a superhero because… he teaches me…

 

With those pages in order, the following pages will fall into place:

 

  • My dad is a superhero because… he likes to…
  • My dad is a superhero because… he often says…
  • My dad is a superhero because… when I’m with him I feel…
  • My dad is…

 

Ready to download My Dad the Superhero? If you’re already a subscriber, sign in. If not, please join us! Enter your completely private information below and follow the super simple next steps.

 

 

Looking for a slightly different kind of Father’s Day mini-book? You might enjoy a Book of Love and Gratitude for Dad.

 

Why Can’t We Blame the Teachers? Part 2

In Why Can’t We Blame the Teachers, Part 1 we learned about some of the challenges our teachers and school districts face when teaching students with learning disabilities. If you didn’t get the chance to read part 1 yet, please start here.

 

How do we prevent the majority of reading failure? Read "Why Can't We Blame the Teachers? Part 2."

 

Now the question is:

Is Anybody Listening?

Has anyone else noticed this travesty problem since Walsh, Glaser, and Wilcox reported their findings back in 2006?

 

The answer to that is yes. People are talking. People in power like Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are listening to parents and educators advocating for so many children who are falling through the cracks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods. According to James H. Wendorf, Executive Director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD),

 

Though Senator Cassidy’s amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 was not adopted, it served as a pivotal moment in this conversation. Senator Cassidy’s amendment would have allowed states and school districts to use federal funding to train educators to better understand, identify and address the early indicators of learning disabilities, including dyslexia.

 

Okay, so it’s a start. But are we back to square one? Even if the amendment had passed, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is woefully underfunded. Per NCLD, even with proposed budget increases, the total congressional share is still far below what Congress promised back in 1975.

 

To see Senator Cassidy championing the need for better services, watch this enlightening video  shared by The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity (5+ minutes):

What about Dyslexia, Education Secretary Duncan?

 

With all of that in mind, do you still want to blame the teachers?

 

Yes, they are in charge of providing your child with a free and appropriate education. They are doing that quite well for the children who already learn with ease. For the approximately 1 in 5 children with learning and attention challenges, our teachers may be just as frustrated as parents are. They simply may not have the proper tools.

 

Who Is Responsible?

Realizing that we can’t, in good conscience, blame the teachers for our children’s difficult education, what can we do?

 

In a perfect world, children’s learning disabilities would be identified early and teachers would know exactly which intervention strategies to implement. But that’s not where we are now. The onus of helping your own child is on you.

 

To protect your child from feelings of inadequacy and even hopelessness due to learning challenges, get him the help he needs. Find an educational therapist. If that’s cost prohibitive, become your child’s best learning coach.

 

Learn about learning disabilities and strategies that help. Invest in materials that will improve your child’s ability to learn with ease and confidence. Learn to be targeted and specific in helping your child, and if you have questions, ask a specialist.

 

If you have any questions about where to start, you can always connect with me here.  And please, please, do make your child’s teacher your ally, not your enemy. You’re all in this together.

 

Why Can’t We Blame the Teachers? Part 1

Whether you call them learning disabilities, learning challenges, or learning differences, some difficulties with learning often go unrecognized by our school systems for years. By the time a problem is finally identified (or admitted to), the child who struggles to learn has already experienced countless assaults to his self-esteem.

 

Want to know why your struggling student may still be struggling?  Learn what the research says in part 1 of "Why Can't We Blame the Teachers?"

 

The Problem

Consider this all too common experience for parents of children with learning disabilities:

 

Before my daughter even entered kindergarten I knew that something wasn’t quite right. My concerns about her poor academic progress through the years were all dismissed. Not until I did my own Internet detective work and discovered she showed multiple signs of dyslexia did anyone take me seriously. By then she was already in eighth grade.

 

Have you ever worried that this might describe you some day (if it doesn’t already)?

 

Yes, your anger is justified. The sadness over your child’s struggles because she isn’t receiving the help she needs is real. Can we blame her teachers? The school district? The entire school system perhaps?

 

The Research

Before you charge into your teacher’s classroom ready to swing, consider a report titled What education schools aren’t teaching about reading and what elementary teachers aren’t learning. (Walsh, K., Glaser, D., & Wilcox, D. D. (2006). Washington, DC: National Council on Teacher Quality.)

 

Per the report, scientific findings regarding the most effective ways to teach and develop reading skills do exist. The authors refer to these research-based findings, including the best ways to deliver phonics instruction, as “the science of reading.”

 

According to the authors,

 

By routinely applying the lessons learned from the scientific findings to the classroom, most reading failure could be avoided. It is estimated that the current failure rate of 20 to 30 percent could be reduced to the range of 2 to 10 percent.

 

Wow! That’s a pretty bold claim. As someone who specializes in strengthening learning abilities, that’s a thrilling statement.

 

Reducing the number of students who struggle in the classroom? Sounds amazing, right? Ah yes, but…  The report also provided some not-so-amazing findings, five of which I’ll summarize below:

 

  • Most schools of education, the places where our teachers are learning how to best teach our children, are not teaching the science of reading. In other words, most teacher training programs do not provide the knowledge and tools needed to address special learning challenges. Can we really blame our teachers, then, for not meeting the needs of every child?

 

   For research-based practices indicated for the classroom, read the full report.

 

  • Some teacher training courses that claim to provide a “balanced” approach ignore the science of reading. Even courses designed to include the best parts of phonics instruction and the best parts of whole language instruction didn’t successfully achieve that balance.

 

  • National accredited education schools are no more likely than others to teach the science of reading. What does that mean if you’re a teacher in training? There’s no easy way to know if you’re receiving a research-supported education or not.

 

  • Much of current reading instruction is incompatible with the science.  (Can I hear a “yikes?”)

 

  • The quality of almost all reading textbooks is poor. Their content includes little to no hard science, and in far too many cases they are inaccurate and misleading.

 

Keep in mind this is only one review of a random sampling of education schools across the United States. It’s an important one, however. We really do need the change makers to take notice.

 

So, is anybody listening?

 

For the answer to that question, continue reading Why Can’t We Blame the Teachers, Part 2.

 

Where Art Meets Cognitive Strength Training for Kids

As parents and educators, your time is precious. Finding educational materials that strengthen more than one learning skill at a time can feel a little like hitting the efficiency jackpot. Throw in some art and fun and creative problem solving to the mix and now you may be feeling downright heroic!

 

Art-for-Brains, THE BOOK merges art with cogntive skill-building fun for kids.  Great for educational therapy, homeschool, classroom, or even your next family road trip.Art-for-Brains

Introducing Art-for-Brains – THE BOOK, where cognitive enrichment tools simply feel like artful playtime. Grab some pencils, crayons, markers, and perhaps some scissors for the kids, and now you’ve got a whole lot of skill-building fun!

 

I designed the five activities in this printable e-book (125 pages in all) to target one specific learning skill each. Most of the activities naturally strengthen more than one skill at the same time. (Hero status: secure.)

 

Art-for-Brains – THE BOOK appeals and adapts to multiple ages. I’ve already written about each of the activities individually. If you’re the kind who believes that love is in the details, click any of the links below to learn more about each one.

 

The 5 Skill-Building Activities in Art for Brains, THE BOOK

  • Finish the Monster Drawing targets and strengthens visual closure skills. Visual closure skills allow students to recognize words as complete units rather than read each individual letter separately.

 

If you notice that your student struggles to learn sight words, mixes up words that have similar beginnings or endings, has trouble completing a thought or seeing the big picture, he may benefit from activities that strengthen his visual closure skills.

 

 

If you notice that your student has trouble following directions, struggles with phonics based instruction, or has difficulty recalling names, phone numbers, stories, songs, etc., she may benefit from activities that strengthen her auditory memory.

 

  • Dot Grid Pattern Play targets and strengthens visual figure ground skills. What on Earth are visual figure ground skills? They allow students to distinguish between foreground and background. This translates to less overwhelm with too many words on a page.

 

If you notice that your student often loses his place, either while reading or in written work, has difficulty finding important information in text, or is slow to find and copy information from the board, he may benefit from activities that strengthen his visual figure ground skills.

 

  • Word Play targets and strengthens visual discrimination skills. Visual discrimination skills help students recognize differences between similar words such as saw/was, when/then, etc. (See visual tracking skills as another potential reason for this word mix-up.)

 

If you notice that your student often confuses similar letters such as b, d, p, and q, often confuses similar words, and/or struggles with matching, sequencing, or spot the difference activities, she may benefit from activities that strengthen visual discrimination.

 

  • Visual Spatial Puzzle Play targets and strengthens spatial awareness. Spatial awareness helps students understand size, distance, volume, order, and time. It helps them distinguish between left vs. right, keeps them from bumping into people (personal space) and lets them know how far to reach across the table to grab that pencil, among other things.

 

If you notice that your student struggles to learn math concepts, writes letters too far apart, close together or slanted down the page, or struggles with physical directions and easily loses his way from A to B, he may benefit from activities that strengthen spatial awareness.

 

If you’re a fan of efficiency I’m guessing you also enjoy saving a few dollars when you can. Art-for-Brains – THE BOOK allows you to save 25% by purchasing all five activities above (regularly $4 each) together in one printable e-book.

 

Use these fun skill-builders in your educational therapy practice, your classroom, your homeschool, or take them with you on your next family road trip. Even students who don’t face any significant learning challenges will find the activities fun and engaging.

 

Ready to add Art-for-Brains – THE BOOK to your shopping cart or wish list? Fly your hero self on over to, er, I mean, visit the store today.

 

My Mom the Superhero, A DIY Printable Book for Kids of All Ages

Do you have a superhero mom in your life? Or twenty, perhaps? She may be your own mother, your wife, or the many moms of the students you teach.

 

We know how hard moms work to make every day meaningful. If we truly are going to choose only one day each year to celebrate moms, let’s make their Mother’s Day gift (or birthday gift, or just for the heck of it gift) truly meaningful, too!

 

My Mom the Superhero, A DIY Printable Book for Kids of All Ages. Great for Mother's Day, birthday, or just because.

 

I was so in love with the custom superhero action figures I learned about via Cool Mom Picks that I decided to design a superhero themed activity that the kids could create on their own.

 

A few cool things about this printable mini-book, My Mom the Superhero:

  • It’s easy and fun for kids of all ages, even the grown up kind.
  • It’s a truly personal gift.
  • It’s easy to store and look back on, especially on those days when Mom could really use a lift.
  • Each page begins with “My mom is a superhero because…” Older children can finish each sentence by writing their heartfelt answers. Younger kids can draw or collage pictures instead.
  • If you decide that you absolutely must have one of those action figures I mentioned above (they’re pretty amazing, aren’t they?), My Mom the Superhero makes the perfect complement to your superhero themed Mother’s Day gift. Of course, it makes a great stand-alone gift, too.

 

Easy Instructions

This 10-page pdf is designed to be duplex printed. (The upside down pages are intentional, by the way.) Standard printing paper works just fine. If the kids want to color with thick, bleed-through markers, card stock may be better.

 

The simplest way to create this mini-book is to remove all 5 duplex printed pages from the printer together, fold the entire stack in half, then staple the pages or sew them together with string or ribbon. If the pages somehow wind up out of order, simply refer back to the original file or to the order of pages listed below:

 

  • Cover page
  • My mom is a superhero because… she always knows…
  • My mom is a superhero because… she’s really good at…
  • My mom is a superhero because… she helps me…
  • My mom is a superhero because… she teaches me…

With those pages in order, the following pages will fall into place:

  • My mom is a superhero because… she likes to…
  • My mom is a superhero because… she often says…
  • My mom is a superhero because… when I’m with her I feel…
  • My mom is…

 

Ready to download My Mom the Superhero? If you’re already a subscriber, sign in. If not, please join us! Enter your completely private information below and follow the super simple next steps.

 


Looking for a slightly different kind of Mother’s Day mini-book? You might enjoy a Book of Love and Gratitude for Mom.