“Snapshot of Summer” Back to School Writing Activity

As an elementary school kid, I always looked forward to telling my classmates all the cool things I did during the summer. I also usually wanted to tell my teacher about my summer… and so did everyone else! Teachers can facilitate a mass “share your summer experience” activity with this simple (self explanatory!) page. Depending on your grade level, have your students draw or write about each of the 5 prompts.

Click here to download the PDF: Snapshots of Summer Break

Some students don’t have amazing vacation stories to tell, so I tried to include things that every kid can write/draw about (like “things I ate”) when I was creating this page.  Good luck on your first day!

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Firework Letters Sort Activity

Fourth of July Letters preview

Tomorrow’s Fourth of July! Yay, America! Check out this free printable page all about sorting letters (consonant vs vowel). It’s simple: color the letters based on the type of letter. Then enjoy a hot dog and the fireworks!

Click here for the free printable PDF: Firework Letters

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10 Tips for Keepin’ up on Math Skills over Winter or Summer Break

Encouraging Math STICKERHere’s a fun list of ideas to encourage math during the Christmas or Summer Break:

  • Challenge others or challenge yourself. Online math strategy games at Calculation Nation provide a safe environment for elementary and middle school students to challenge themselves and challenge others. Games involve fractions, factoring, symmetry and comparing perimeter and area! Give your kids graph paper and tell them to create a dream house up to X square feet. To be extra challenging, limit the square footage of a single room.
  • Play strategy games with friends and family. A great way to spend quality time. Games such as Contig, and other free board games. Play as teams while learning so you can talk about strategy and then move playing individually. Try something like Scrabble, but skip the calculator when totaling each player’s score.
  • Talk to your children’s teachers before the break. Ask questions that show you are concerned about their development and maintenance of mathematics skills and fluency. For example, ask, “What do you see as my child’s strengths and weaknesses in math? What could we do while at home to develop or improve his/her weakest areas?” There are probably fun class activities or games that you could replicate a home.
  • Read books that contain mathematics content with your children. There are books at every grade level that can engage students in thinking about math! Some suggestions include Ten Apples Up On Top! (elementary) or The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places (middle grades). Want classroom activities to support math and literature? Check out Exploring Mathematics through Literature: Articles and Lessons for Prekindergarten through Grade 8. Head to your local public library and challenge your kids to find 3 or 4 books with math concepts (and ask them to defend their choices).
  • Create a number book with your child. Use this template with your preschooler or kindergartner and have them decorate each page with pictures, stickers or stamps (or even glue beads or macaroni) that show the number on the page. For more advanced students, ask them to write expressions that equal the target number. For example, for the number 6, they could write 3X2, 10-4 and 2+2+1+1. Also consider having them write and illustrate a story that deals with math or numbers.
  • Do projects with your child. Bake cookies or work on a home improvement project. Real-world applications of mathematical ideas, especially measurement, are everywhere! If you are stringing up lights, work with them to estimate how many sets you will need and calculate the total number of lights used. If you are baking cookies, have them figure out what is needed to make a double batch. Asking your child what they’d like to cook or build; they’ll have more buy-in on the activity that way.
  • Exercise your body; MATHercise your mind! Take in a sporting event, even if it’s only on TV. Keep track of yards gained and lost from running versus passing plays of their favorite football team or the shooting percentage of their favorite basketball player. Work with them to make comparisons between two of their favorite players and display it graphically. Check out the lesson connecting rate of movement to football on Illuminations, appropriate for middle and high school students. If you’ve got kids playing on a sports team, consider having siblings keep the stats on their sibling or sibling’s team.
  • Have a problem of the day. Work through one new problem before or after dinner each night. Figure This! has an awesome assortment of interesting problems with hints and solutions, so you don’t have to be a math wizard to facilitate! Let older siblings write the problem of the day for younger siblings. Be sure to have them teach their younger siblings how to find the answer.
  • As a family, track your calorie intake or your finances. Are you consuming more food during the holiday season than you would otherwise? Are you spending money on gifts? Becoming aware is important in establishing control. You may also consider how much time each day you spend on each activity such as watching television, eating, sleeping. Ask your kids to predict how much time is spent on each activity. Make a graph. Ask neighbors or cousins to track their time on each activity as well. Then compare both family’s experiences. Finally, brainstorm how you can manage to fit in alternative activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Seek out a volunteer opportunity that appeals to both you and your child. From cooking for a shelter, to collecting food for a food drive, to collecting coats for the needy, there are lots of opportunities to estimate and use math to project how much your efforts mean to others. Ask your child to look for math in the activity. Write about it in a journal or draw a picture.

(Many ideas in this article from are from NCTM) Share your ideas by commenting below!

Summer Reading Recommendations (End of the Year Book Report)

summer reading STICKERTeachers are always looking to motivate kids to continue reading throughout the summer.  I was pondering this challenge, and the following idea just popped into my head.. so I ran with it. The intention is to have each kid choose a book they read that year and write a “recommendation report” about it. Then they can share their report with the class and try to persuade others to read the book. Hopefully a few kids will be inspired and read something over the summer. But at bare minimum, students can identify classmates who share their same taste in books.

Click here for the free printable PDF:
Summer Reading Recommendation Report
Summer Reading Recommendation Report 2

Click here to view another book report printable. 🙂

Grammatical Poetry – Summer Activity for Kids

It’s that time of year… the weather’s getting warmer and the kids are getting really squirmy! Must be the end of the school year! But learning’s not over (it never really is, right?)! Here’s a summer-themed language arts activity for kids that reviews grammar and helps them create a poem about summer time! Click here for the PDF: Grammatical Poetry- Summer

Here’s what the page looks like:

Grammatical Poetry- Summer

Click here for more grammatical poetry!

Summer Memories Writing Project

Summer Memories- draw own picture STICKER

One of the best ways to preserve memories is to write them down. Help your students preserve a fun summer time memory be encouraging them to write it down. Encourage them to focus on details that help make the story rich. Motivate your students by allowing them to share their written memory with you, the class or other students. Here’s the free printable worksheet that goes with this activity. There are 2 versions (one provides space for your kids to draw a picture, and the other doesn’t). Click the links below to see the PDF: Summer Memories- draw own picture   or   Summer Memories- with picture.

Best Kids’ Art Blogs

You know that there are great art lesson plans and blogs out there. But where to start? Let me tell you about some of the best ones I’ve seen (in no particular order):

Art Projects For Kids

  • projects for all ages, mediums and seasons
  • some projects require downloads you can purchase ($5 each)
  • step by step directions
  • examples of completed projects

Sample cool project:

folk art cat tutorial

A Faithful Attempt

  • projects for all ages, mediums and seasons
  • step by step (photo) instructions
  • examples of completed projects

Sample cool project:

That Artist Woman

  • projects for all ages, mediums and seasons
  • step by step (photo) instructions
  • examples of completed projects

Sample cool project:

Angela Anderson Art

  • upper grade art projects for all seasons (variety of mediums)
  • often general directions (not always photo instructions)
  • examples of completed projects

Sample cool project:

Hot and Cold Candy

(Guest Post by Loralee Leavitt)
In hot weather, kids crave cold drinks.  This makes summer a great time to learn about hot and cold temperatures. Here’s a candy experiment from candyexperiments.com that demonstrates how things dissolve differently in hot and cold water.
What to do:
1. Fill one cup with hot water.  Fill another cup with cold water.  (You can even add ice cubes to make it colder!)
2. Take identical pieces of brightly colored candy, such as Skittles, M&M’s, or spoonfuls of Nerds.   Put half in the hot cup and half in the cold cup.
3. Watch the colors spread as the candy dissolves.  Does the candy in hot water dissolve faster?
What’s happening:
Because molecules move faster when it’s hot, the candy in hot water dissolves much faster.  The candy in ice water might take all night to dissolve.
*Loralee Leavitt is the author of the new hit book, Candy Experiments. Thank you to Loralee for being the first guest post! If you’re interested in being a guest on Squarehead Teachers, contact us via email at squareheadteachers [at] gmail [dot] com.