Wednesday, June 20, 2018

10 Things to Buy at Dollar Tree in June

Whether you are homeschooling your child or just looking for some fun (and cheap) activities for the summer break, you can't beat shopping at the Dollar Tree!  Whenever I shop anywhere, I'm always looking and thinking of fun activities I can use the item for and not necessarily how it is normally used.  Keep reading for ways to cover literacy, math, science, social studies, and much more!

#1 - Mini-dust pan and brush
This makes a fun game to play at home or on a road trip!  Write upper-case or lower-case letters, numbers, cvc words, sight words, etc. on small pieces of paper.  Let your child throw the cards up in the air to scatter all over the floor.  Call out something for your child to sweep up into the pan.  This is a fun and simple game that will have your child learning and practicing important concepts while "Sweeping Up!"

#2 - United States Wall Map
All children need to learn about geography, map skills, and the states.  Place this on a wall.  Use a push-pin, or highlighter to mark the places you travel this summer.  Keep it up all year to continue using as your child learns about important landmarks, capitals, etc.

#3 - Clothespins
Using clothespins to clip items helps your child develop fine motor skills.  Use clothespins to pick up pom poms or other small items.  Call out a number and have your child use a clothespin to pick up and count out that many objects.   

 #4 - Patriotic Table Scatter
There are so many great educational activities to do with these.  Sort by colors.  Sort the stars by large or small.  Count the red items, white items, blue items.  Count the stars.  Compare which color has more and which has less.  Are there more large stars or small stars? Make patterns and then have your child finish each pattern.  Use the clothespins you purchase to pick up the items.  After you've completed a LOT of math activities using this one simple product, glue the pieces on construction paper for arts and crafts - make a Happy 4th of July card, make a poster to carry to a parade, make place-cards with names for a get together or with the name of food.  Use your imagination.  This one activity can keep your child busy for a LONG time! 

 #5 - Cyclone Fever Twirly Toy
My grandson has had SO much fun with this one.  The heat index has been CRAZY, so he's played with it inside.  Again, this one is great for math activities.  Predict which color will fly the highest or the most distance.  Measure to check.  It's a great science lesson for force and motion also!

 #6 - Straws
Sort the straws by color and count them.  Cut the straws into different lengths and put them in order from shortest to longest or longest to shortest.  Make patterns.  Use the straws to make shapes.  Add large marshmallows to build 3-D shapes.  Use the straws for non-standard measurement of the distance of the twirly toy (10 yellow straws or 20 blue straws).  Use the straws as counters for adding or subtracting.  And of course, use them for drinking delicious and cold slushy drinks!

 #7 - Bug Catcher
Not only will your child love scooping up and catching insects, but there are other uses as well!  Use these with items in a container of water.  Catch small objects as they are floating by.  Pick up pom poms, or scoop up rice.  This is another fun way to develop fine motor control.

#8 - Pick-up Pairs Card Game
These cards are great for developing your child's vocabulary.  Discuss the types of habitats of the different animals.  Discuss different kind of skin coverings.  Sort the animals by their skin, or where they live, or number or legs, or classify as mammal, birds, amphibians.  One of our favorite games is to turn them all over and play a game of classic memory. 

#9 - Cookie Sheet
Not only is a cookie sheet magnetic, but it's the perfect size to hold in a lap when traveling this summer.  Use it to hold items for playing so they stay contained.  Use it to keep crayons from rolling off.  It's also perfect as a desk top for books and coloring books.  It can even be used for a food tray!  

#10 - Puzzles
Puzzles are a lost gem in today's world of technology.  When I taught kindergarten, we used a lot of puzzles in the classroom.  This is another activity that is perfect for developing fine motor skills.  Puzzles also help build logic, reasoning, and cognitive skills.  We love to put small magnets on the back of each puzzle piece, pop them into a ziploc baggie with the front of the box for reference, and take them along on a road trip (or even just a trip to town).  Use the puzzle with the cookie sheet to make for an easy and fun activity that really sticks!  

(Please note this blog post has an affiliate link for the magnets.  This means that if you purchase using the link, I receive a very small commission that helps me with the upkeep of my website.  However, this doesn't add to the price of the item for you.)

Do you love the Dollar Tree as much as I do?  It's a frugal and effective way to have fun learning at home.  Don't miss out next month, when I give you ten more ideas to purchase for July.  Fun and frugal learning, that's just...

My Kind of Teaching!!!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Editable Calendars and Newsletters

This past year, we became a 1:1 digital classroom.  During "Meet the Teacher Night", I had Chromebooks set up all over the classroom ready for parents.  They filled out all of the information I needed through Google Forms.  It was great having everything I needed all nice and neat in a Google Spreadsheet!  I was especially excited to get their e-mail addresses.  Can you believe I got all but three?  WOW!  I had never had it so easy before.

(Please note this blog post has affiliate links.  This means that if you purchase using the links, I receive a very small commission that helps me with the upkeep of my website.  However, this doesn't add to the price of the item for you.)

By having their e-mail address, I was able to keep parents up-to-date with things going on in our classroom as well as share my Google Calendar with them.  While this was all very exciting, I still felt that it was important to do things the "old-fashioned" way and send home a parent letter as well as a calendar.  Sometimes, it's all about having things at the touch of a fingertip, but other times, it's all about having that information in your hand.

I LOVE these calendars that I designed a few years ago.  (Did you know that if you purchase once, you can download the updated calendars every June for FREE?)  I love to change to a different design each year.  In fact, I usually do one in color for myself and the black and white editable calendar for parents.

Each editable set includes both landscape and portrait for your convenience. They also include an editable monthly newsletter as well as an editable weekly newsletter.

Editable covers that can be personalized are included also!

These calendars can be printed and placed in a notebook.  Want them to look more professional like some of the expensive ones out there?  I purchased this binder several years ago and I'm so happy I did!    I've used it for so many things!  (Don't forget, it can also be used as a tax deduction... Whoo!  Hoo!)

You'll definitely want a pack of these click spines that can hold up to 85 pages! These are also reusable.  So once you have both of these, you are set for YEARS!!


You can find these calendars in a variety of themes.  This year I’m using Turquoise and Lime Green as these are my favorite colors.

You can also find these themes:  year-round, black and white (I think this one is so elegant and was my calendar choice last year), scrappy, polka-dots and glitter.  These calendars are so inexpensive, that you can buy more than one to swap out your theme.

Included with your download you will also find a "How to Use this Product" guide.  I want you to get the most bang for your buck, because...

That's my Kind of Teaching!

See you soon,

Friday, June 15, 2018

Once a Month Grocery Shopping - Part 1

Let’s face reality teachers don’t make an exorbitant amount of money.  Most of the teachers I know, live on a tight budget. 

 Through the years, I’ve had to make some choices about the best way to stretch my hard-earned money just like you’ve had to do, also.  Several years ago, when my children were little, and I had only been teaching for a few years, it seemed that it was harder and harder to stretch those dollars.  We also had a dream.. to one day build a house and be able to afford to move out of the trailer we were living in. 

There was no way to cut our “fixed” expenses such as our mortgage, car payment, etc.  One area that I felt I could really control was our grocery budget.  So, I decided to start grocery shopping only ONE time a month.  I wanted to see how “LOW could I go!”


A few days before going to the grocery store, make a list of everything in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.  You may need to spend some time organizing everything.  By keeping like foods together, it is easier to know what you have.  After you have completed this, make a list of all the things you need to purchase to remain “stocked up”.

Once you have a master list, it will help you to know which items you purchase on a regular basis.  Most people use the same ingredients over and over with little deviation.  For me, there are only a few times such as holidays, birthday, or other special occasions when I purchase different items.

According to how many things you have, this may take you several hours or even a few days to complete this first task.  However, it is VERY important that you know what you have as a starting point.  Part of my problem before using this method is that I would buy things I already had because I was disorganized.  Not only did this lead to wasteful spending, but sometimes, food would have to be thrown out because by the time I “discovered” it, it would no longer be edible. 

Put those items with the closest date to expiring in the front so you will use those items first!  Becoming organized will help keep you from wasting food.  Throwing away food is like throwing money in the garbage and you would never do that would you?

So, what are you waiting for?  Well, maybe it’s a ready to print master list.  If so, I’ve got you covered!  Click on the picture to download and print.

Spend some time this week discovering what is in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.  I’ll be back next Friday with your next steps to save money as you begin grocery shopping in a whole new way.

Helping you save money and stretch those dollars is just MY KIND OF TEACHING!

See you soon!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Homeschool Classroom

Recently, I made the decision to retire, after thirty years of teaching.  Many, many reasons were behind my decision, but the most EXCITING one, was the opportunity to help homeschool my grandson.  I set up a classroom in my house so that we could begin doing some activities to see how he would respond.  It has been one of my most FAVORITE things ever!  Check out our pictures of our room!

I am using a small sitting room between two bedrooms for our classroom.  I spent very little money, because I scoured my house to see which items I could move into this room.  There is a ton of natural light from the large windows.  The ceiling is very high, making the room feel much larger than it actually is.  

After moving in the furniture, it was time to make the room into a classroom, ready for fun and learning!  I purchased this clock for $4 from the General Dollar Store.  The small cork board was mine as a child.  I purchased two packs of brillo pads from the Dollar Tree and stapled them on.  It is now a perfect board for any items that have velcro.

 I added a a soft throw blanket and a trash can.  I already had the plastic container.  It is filled with zippered bags I purchased from Amazon.  They are perfect for grab and go activities.

This was a CD/DVD holder that one of my daughters left behind when she got married It is perfect for holding several small containers with different items in them.  The small table with the kleenex, was moved from my sunroom.  I purchased the chair from Target a couple of years ago for my home office  It fits perfectly in the corner.  The lamp is at least 30-years old, but still works great!

This chair cushion makes sitting on the floor more comfortable.  What would a classroom be without at least one friend?  Our soft doggie is a friend to hold or just watch while we are learning.  The small stool is perfect for my grandson to look out the window.

I moved this small shelf from another room in the house.  It holds coloring books, activity books, sensory bins, construction paper, pencil boxes with crayons, pencils, scissors, and glue and a few other items.

 The write/wipe/magnetic board is the only larger item that I purchased for our classroom.  It was less than $20.  I also purchased the smaller board for the grandson to use.

 I purchased this $1 mirror from the Dollar Tree.  We use this for reading "mirror sight words", and of course, looking at our expressions!

 We make sure that we complete at least one of each of these activities during our fun learning time.  Luke loves to check off each box.  

Another leftover from before our daughters married is this larger corkboard.  I used fabric that I had purchased years ago when I taught second grade.  I also used some border that I purchased a few years ago.  I bought the small hanging pocket chair several years ago at a Target.

 My daughter gave us this coffee table.  It is the perfect size for our classroom.  The straw basket holds laminated cards for tracing.

 Here is the view from one door.  We LOVE our perfect sized room! 

My other daughter (the mother of my grandson), gave us this rug.  We love playing movement games on it.  Under the coffee table is a large plastic container filled with pebbles and construction toys for sensory play. My grandson and I are so enjoying our learning time together.  This is our favorite space as homeschooling has become, My Kind of Teaching.

Join our Facebook page, "Fun Learning With Grammy" to see more, as we begin our kindergarten homeschooling journey.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Exciting Life Changes

   There have been some exciting changes in my life! 
(Drum roll please)
After thirty years of teaching, I have made the decision to RETIRE!!!
(I can hear all of your sighs of envy!)
It’s daunting yet liberating.
Exciting, yet scary.

I have a list of things I want to accomplish, of course, along with some exciting plans!
1)         TAKE BACK MY HOUSE!!
Be honest I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has spent most of my teaching career neglecting my house during the school year.  I always try to do SOME deep cleaning each summer and somewhat during the Christmas break.  Otherwise, it’s a lick and a promise for the most part throughout the school year.  I am SUPER excited to have time to deep-clean, purge, and organize!

2)        TAKE CARE OF ME!
It’s easy to put yourself last when working full time, taking care of family, etc.  There’s just no time or energy left for oneself.  I look so forward to leisure mornings spent reading, walking, and quiet solitude.

 I’m now part of the “sandwich” generation.  My mom is elderly, and though in good health, there are still times she needs my help.  Plus, I love spending time with my mom and look forward to more time with her!  I also have married children and grandchildren.  Times spent with them are my favorite!

It was a dream of mine to homeschool my daughters in their younger, formative years.  However, at that point in my life, it was not a viable option for us. Fast forward a few years and guess what?  I’m going to have the immense pleasure of spending that quality time with my oldest grandson who just turned five years-old.  My daughter and son-in-law have always planned for him to be homeschooled and I am so blessed that they have asked me to help out on the journey!

(See #1-5)

I am thrilled to finally have time to put thoughts to paper on my blog.  I will be including posts for the traditional classroom based on my thirty years of experience along with how to use my units from my TpT store.  I will expand my blog by including activities from our homeschooling journey.  Lastly, I want to help teachers by posting more info about how to live a frugal life (and we all know, on a teacher’s income, this is a MUST!)  Fridays will be devoted to FRUGAL FRIDAY postings.

I hope you’ll continue the ride with me.  My #1 goal is to help YOU so that your life is just a little easier and helping you have more time to do the things that are the most important to you in your personal life.

That’s just

See you soon,