Month: June 2017

Potty Training Begins!

Last week, I started officially potty training my son. Now, he had been wearing a pull-up and using the potty for several months. At his day care, during the school year, he would also go on the potty fairly consistently. We had even tried him wearing underpants once this spring. However, he only lasted about an hour (with a few potty trips) before an accident. He was mortified by, “My peepee so hot!” and he would not wear underpants again for awhile.

After letting it go for another couple months, (and after turning two and a half) we thought he was more ready. All we needed was to be super vigilant about it for a few days. In fact, I had heard 3 days is all it takes. 3 long days, but only 3! I could handle 3 days… maybe.

I had told myself that when summer came and I was home with the kids, that was the time. The first few weeks of summer involved quite a bit of traveling for our family, as well as conferences and meetings for me. When I looked at the calendar last week and saw that nothing was scheduled for me, I thought…

Potty Training Begins!

I always thought I would read up on all sorts of methods, possibly look up some apps to use to encourage him, and find multiple special treats or prizes as bribes. But let’s be real… when was I really going to do all that? And though I was doubtful it would only take a few days, I figured, might as well just start!

The night before, my husband and I both made a big deal about wearing underpants. We had been talking about underpants for weeks, so when I asked my son if he was ready to wear them again, he was actually excited. He went to bed saying “I wear underpants like a big boy!” This was a good sign!

Day 1

After breakfast, I let him choose which pair of underwear he wanted. We are fully stocked with Disney’s Cars underwear, ready for anything! He put his little Elmo potty seat on the toilet, and we were set to go! Because I didn’t have much time to prepare anything fancy, I simply took a crayon and paper and made a chart with about 20 boxes. I also quickly pulled stickers out from my stash of scrapbooking supplies (it’s not like I’ve been scrapbooking recently…) and dug around in our candy bin for one small pack of M&Ms.

Here were our guidelines:

  • Every time he went potty, he received a sticker for the chart
  • If he also had dry pants when he went potty he got a single M&M
  • Once he filled up the entire chart (20 times of going potty) he was able to pick a “special treat” from our candy bowl. The bowl contained things like mini Milky Ways, smarties, Hershey Kisses, etc.
  • Naps and night time he would still wear a Pull-Up or diaper for now

    The potty charts. We will just keep adding charts as necessary!

The first day was definitely the longest. Pretty much every minute I would ask him if he had to go. Every 15-20 minutes I would take him. Obviously, he got sick of this interrupting play time, so there were several times I had to bribe him with the stickers and M&Ms. Most of the time this worked. He had one minor accident before lunch. I thought that would be the end of it, but he agreed to wear a new pair of underwear and continue on! By the afternoon, I was sick of being in the house on such a beautiful day. We ventured outside, only to make sure to come in every 20-25 minutes to go potty. He had one other accident that afternoon because he was playing hide and seek with daddy and got a little excited.

 

Day 2

This day was a little easier. My husband was home to help a little more and we allowed my son to go closer to 30 minutes before trying to go. He did have one accident because he had to go #2 and is still very suspicious of doing this on the potty. He pretty much holds it in until a pullup or diaper is on. Oh well. For nap time though, he had a dry pull-up and woke up telling us he had to go potty! Success! By the afternoon, we were playing outside much more. I still constantly asked him if he needed to go, but let him have more of a say of when we took a potty break. Stickers and M&Ms still worked, but he was starting to forget about them. There were a few times he went and forgot about getting a sticker afterwards!

Day 3

Our third day I let him direct when he needed to go (most of the time). I kept reminding him that we wanted dry underpants! He did great! Sometimes it was almost an hour before he said he had

to go. Other times, he had to go after 10 minutes. But he was directing, and we had no accidents! After dinner we even braved the store. He told me he had to go there, which was fine (but gross)!

Going strong!

Three days and I feel like we have a great head start on this potty thing. I know we aren’t completely free of problems, but so far so good! So what is my advice?

  • Keep it simple. You don’t need a whole lot to make a 2 year old excited.
  • Make sure to continually tell him or her how proud you are of what they are doing! My son LOVED hearing how he was being such a big boy.
  • It’s ok to have setbacks, but keep encouraging!

Next step? Going number two on the potty…

 

The Greatness of Garage Sales

The last few Friday mornings, at least one of my kiddos and I have been hitting up local garage sales. I have always had a love of finding special treasures for cheap and I believe my son is learning to love it as well! In fact, last week, I asked him, “Would you like to go to a garage sale with me?” And his 2 ½ year old response: “No, Mommy, FIVE garage sales.

So what is the greatness of garage sales?
  • I think as a mother and a teacher, garage sales are the best way for finding things you may need (or just like) for your home, kids or classroom without breaking the bank!
  • By reusing someone else’s things, you are being more environmentally friendly! This may seem like a stretch, but really, if you think about what would happen if we all just through away our stuff when we were through with it (which some do) how much waste we would have? By reselling and buying used things that are still in good condition, we are reducing our need for new products, and recycling!
  • You get to know people in your community! Just the other day, my son and I went to a neighborhood garage sale a few blocks away from our house. In that neighborhood alone, we talked to someone you attend the same out of state college as me, a woman whose daughter shared the same name as mine (and it is not a common name!), and discovered that a close relative of one of my students lives just around the corner from me. Get to know your neighbors. And their junk.

But where do you start? I know some people just like the thrill of the hunt and have no set plan. Usually I like to have an idea of what I’m looking for at the start. This way, I can drive by and scope out whether it is worth it to stop and get out (especially with two kids).

Here are the top things I currently look for when I’m garage saling:
  1. Kids Clothes/shoesThis, right now, is my number one purchase at any garage sale. If there is a chance someone will be selling toddler boy or baby girl clothes, I stop. I’m discovering that most times, girl clothes seem hardly worn! I’ve purchased brand new or like new clothes for $1 for my baby girl. However, rarely do I find this in toddler boy sizes. Why? Going by personal experience, it is because boys wear out their clothes so much faster than girls. And trying to find boys gym shoes in good condition? Good luck!
  2. Books – I know several other teachers at my school get almost all their classroom library books from garage sales. Not only does it save the teacher (and the school) so much money, but you can find a variety of books, genres and reading levels for super cheap! When most people buy books, they read the book once and then are done. Almost every garage sale I’ve been to has some sort of book section. It does take some time looking through the titles, but if you have the patience, you can find some classics, or some great new novels! Also, board books for the littles are popular to sell, so sometimes I grab one or two for my own kids.
  3. Storage containers – These are not very expensive to buy new in the store, and I often do that. But I’ve found some really cute, unique or just super cheap containers that will hold anything and everything. I’m always looking for tubs to hold my children’s outgrown clothes or a place to hold some toys. In my classroom, having tubs, buckets, and containers for everything from scissors and colored pencils to marbles to leftover owl pellets is a must (And yes, I do have a container of leftover owl pellets).
  4. Toys and games – Typically my son finds at least one thing he just loves at each garage sale. Typically, I let him pick just ONE thing that is less than a dollar or two. A truck, a new Minion sippy cup and a Nemo watch have been his latest finds. Board games and puzzles priced low (and with all the pieces) can be perfect for those rainy day recesses.
  5. Those random, yet perfect items that you weren’t expecting to find – It’s all worth it when you find that one thing. That thing that you didn’t know you were looking for, but found! Or that thing that you did not know existed until you saw it. For me, that was a camera tripod a few summers ago. My purpose for it wasn’t for a camera, but for a solar system lesson in my classroom. I think I bought it for $3 and I was expecting to have to pay close to $20. Awesome! My husband (who doesn’t garage sale much) happened to stumble upon landscaping rocks at a sale by our house. He had just started to fix up our backyard those were a perfect fit. Who knows what your treasure will be… a beautiful, antique tea set? A like-new piece of furniture? Something completely random for your classroom?

So get in the spirit of treasure hunting. The Greatness of Garage Sales is only truly great if you go out and search. Get some more use out of other people’s things. Start talking with your neighbors and learn more about those you live around.

Happy hunting!

Tech Tools to Use in the Classroom

Even though school is out, I have been busy attending conferences and prepping to present at one myself! The first conference I attended was an eLearning conference for our school district. This is the second time I’ve attended this conference. Both times, I’ve left with about 5 million ideas but an overwhelming sense of knowing there is no way I can implement them all!

After going through my notes, my goal is to take two or three of the ideas I found and try them this coming year. If I can do more, great! However, I would rather do a few things well then just try to cram everything in at once.

Here are the tech tools that made the top of my list! And I must mention that they are all free! I will definitely be trying these out once school starts again. Feel free to do the same!

Desmos and Desmos classroom 

I actually had previously stumbled upon this website during the semester and loved it. After hearing more about it at the conference, I know I will utilize it more in my math classes! Lessons are already prepared on the site and include a variety of topics. Students are able to work at their own pace through the lesson answering questions and completing tasks. Questions require students to think and respond with sentences as well, so you can see their thought process as well. Teachers are able to monitor each student’s progress as well! I loved the fact that I could see who was struggling or not staying on task right from my computer! Whether a student needs extra practice or enrichment, Desmos can help!

Sample question for inequalities lesson

Quizlet Live  

Maybe you, like me, had already heard of Quizlet. I’ve had students use this app for a few years as an option to study their vocabulary words in science class. Students type in words and definitions, then can play review games such as matching, guess the word, etc. I’ve noticed that those students that have used Quizlet typically end up performing better on any vocabulary assessments.

The people at Quizlet really amped it up for Quizlet Live and made it a whole classroom experience!  Students are randomly placed in groups and given an animal name. Why an animal? I have no idea, but being a Siberian Tiger or a Bald Eagle makes it that much more exciting! Each student must have a device within the group. The groups then must work together to find correct terms for the given definition. Since different terms are listed on different group member’s devices, everyone must participate in order for the group to finish first. What a great way to increase vocabulary proficiency!

Quizziz

This game is very similar to Kahoot  (which I have used many times and love!). The difference though, is that students can go at their own pace and do the questions by themselves. You do not need to project one question at a time on the screen. The students still can compete against each other and see their scores (which is what they love about Kahoot). You can use the quizzes that are already on the site, or you can make your own. Adapt the quiz for whatever subject you need and use it for review, pretesting or just for fun!

Start screen for Quizziz

Commonsense.org   

Students truly need to understand how to become responsible digital citizens. How do we teach this? First of all, make sure we as educators are being good role models. Sometimes we assume students know how to be responsible in this area simply because they know how to work the apps and tools. Commonsense.org has developed several lessons for the classroom that hit on many areas of digital citizenship for all grade levels including strategic searching, cyberbullying, and copyright issues. The lessons include videos and activity ideas that you can download as pdf files. There is even a “Digital Compass game where students choose what to do in a scenario and see the consequences of that choice. I have used bits and pieces of this in the past, but think I should do more with my middle schoolers.

 

So take a look! Maybe one of these will become your favorite tech tools this coming year too!

Toddler Travel Idea Roundup

Our first big plans for the summer involved taking a trip out east that would take 12 hours in the car… one way. Needless to say, doing this with a 2 ½ year old and a 7 month old is a big endeavor. My littlest is easy – eat, sleep, give her a toy or two and she will be fine. But my toddler??What were we thinking planning this?

So in preparation for the big “Toddler Travel” trip, I have rounded up many tips from other experts!

Let’s start with a packing list. I’m forever trying to remember everything that I need to remember! Whether it’s a two hour trip or a 12 hour trip, there are some essentials that need to be packed. This was helpful for me to remember those! TodaystheBestDay has many helpful tips on how to travel with a toddler. It also includes this awesome packing list that I used. Simple, but covers everything.

Packing List for A Toddler
Source: Todaysthebestday.com

 

Snacks

Pre-packing snacks on a road trip is a must for the children. And let’s be honest, even more important for myself! This idea helps make sure the car is well stocked with snacks. Prepping and sorting these healthy snacks into smaller bags prevents extra pit stops for junk food, keeps messes to a minimum and will reduce the risk of eating a whole bag of something because of boredom. (That’s my problem!) Cupcakeskissesncrumbs does a great job showing how to prep snacks for the week when you’re not traveling too!

Source: Cupcakesncrumbs.blogspot.com

 

Activities

Since school just let out, I have not had time to properly prep extra activities. If I had a couple more days to prep, I would make a few more of these fantastic busy bags from HandsOnAsWeGrow. There is a great explanation of what makes a busy bag and SO many ideas.

Even though I don’t have much time to create kits, I will be doing some of these activity ideas! Tunemyheartblog contains a few fantastic ideas for toddlers. There is a link to free printables that can be used with dot stickers. I will raid my teacher closet for a binder with page protectors and complete an awesome letter book! Hopefully that can keep my busy boy entertained for more than a few minutes! 

Purchasing a new cookie sheet from the dollar store also has been added to list of things to do before leaving. I’ll put some magnets we already own in a bag and boom! He can play with his letters! It can be used as a table for eating, coloring, or book reading too. Playdatecrashers lists a few other great ideas for the cookie sheet! 

And lastly, I found this brilliant idea. Whoever came up with this is a genius!! I know my toddler will think a bucket pulley system is the coolest! It will also prevent me from spending half the car ride facing backwards and getting car sick… maybe. Now I’ll just have to make sure to rig it up right! I do teach science, so I should be able to figure it out… Thanks Kidsactivitiesblog.com!

I know at least a few of these ideas will keep our “big” kid entertained for awhile. And our little one will then hopefully be entertained by the big kid! We will just take it one mile at a time and remember that seeing family will make it all worth it!