The Ultimate Homeschool Holiday Gift Guide

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INTRO - describe why giving meaningful gifts/ the gift of learning is a great idea for the holidays.

Gifts for ages 3 to 8

Life of Fred Math Books

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Learning math, like literacy, is the key to endless doors in life. Story-based math learning has proven time and again to be one of the most enjoyable and effective ways to encourage this life skill. Math savant Dr. Stanley Schmidt created lovable characters Fred and Kingie whose adventures are so engrossing kids don’t even realize they’re learning m-a-t-h.


Gift a child in your life the beginning series to set them up for success in life. Don’t forget to add a plush Fred doll, adding another positive dimension to learning math. Friends help friends succeed - whether it’s math learning or otherwise. This holistic teaching method is sure to bring joy and success to your homeschool and beyond.

Reusable Wall Stickers

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From the wonders of the solar system to the miracle of the human body, these interactive play sets spark curiosity, delight and learning in every child. Made from reusable, non-BPA decal materials, they can go on walls, car windows and any surface ready to be used for fun, discovery, and knowledge mastery. The durable mini-sets are especially portable, great for road trips or plane travel, and to pack for a play date.


Mona MELisa is a family owned and operated business, and manufactures products in the USA. Educents is proud to have her as a member of our community.


The mini sets are perfect...We are homeschoolers and these are a great way to reinforce learning and encourage self exploration/learning...What I love is when they get folded over or dirty can get back to full use and clean....so durable.” - Marlene G


Homeschool Complete

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How about one amazing bundle for all of kindergarten? This family owned and operated business created a complete kindergarten kit from Math to Language Arts and everything in between. Why? So you don’t need to curate resources and plan lessons yourself. New-to-homeschoolers will appreciate the detailed plans so you can follow along without hemming and hawing about what to do - it’s all laid out!


So much thought is put into this curriculum set - from the 3 ring binders and the specially durable paper, to flash cards for easy practicing, and calendars to keep you on track.


"As someone who is easily overwhelmed, an all-inclusive curriculum is a HUGE plus in my book.” - MaryEllen


This curriculum is created by a homeschool mom who knows homeschool experience through and through. Renowned and influential homeschool reviewer Cathy Duffy notes "Kindergarten Complete takes advantage of homeschoolers’ ability to interact closely with their children with lots of discussion plus hands-on activities."

Learn to Read Kit

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Ready to spark that moment when a beginner finishes their first book? Hooked on Phonics is the #1 recommended Learn to Read program in the US, and for good reason: it’s helped multiple generations of learners master reading and phonics. The Learn to Read Kit comes with 28 original stories and 8 bonus books by renowned children’s authors - one of these will be that first triumphant book! The pacing is designed to encourage those who struggle with reading to first gain confidence, have fun, then master reading. It’s so easy to follow along that children can even teach themselves to read with this program.


Literacy opens up the world of literature helping children build upon their imagination, become more empathetic, and improve emotional intelligence. Beyond that, we can recall the Harry S. Truman quote - that not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”


“Now every morning my daughter says mom we have to do my school. She loves it and I do too.” - Amanda P


Give the gift of reading this season and open a world of possibilities for your child.

Gifts for Ages 9 to 12

Times Tales - Learn Multiplications Fast

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What if you could turn a discouraged learner into a confident master? What if you could make one the biggest challenges in your child’s academic life not only easy, but fun? That’s what you can do with Times Tales - kids learn their times tables in an hour!


This 1 hour DVD uses stories and mnemonic devices to help kids learn their times tables in a snap - without rote memorization.


“My 11 year old has been struggling to memorize her times tables for years. She understands the concept and can figure the problems out, but it takes her a while because she's trying to calculate it in her head. We've done games to memorize, made our own times tables, used flashed cards, tried xtra math...all to no avail. Within 2 HOURS of getting Times Tables Tales in the mail, she already had a few of them memorized. She is a visual learner and so having the characters and seeing the drawings of the stories made all the difference in the world to her. She has gained so much confidence in her ability to do math in just a few weeks because she had been so discouraged before. Thank you so much!” - Heather B


Give the gift of earned confidence to a little one in your life. It’s one gift that will last a lifetime.


Magic School Bus Science Club 12 - Month Subscription

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This is the perfect gift to inspire and encourage the kids who ask “why?” The famous Magic School Bus series took hold in the 90’s and has been getting kids excited about STEM ever since. The Science Club Kit takes the story based learning to the next level with comprehensive, hands-on kits that come right to your doorstep each month for a full year. And each month, you have at least 7 experiments!


This is a great choice for families with multiple children, kinesthetic, and visual learners - and just a fun, educational activity for a rainy day! The kits include experiments related to Volcanoes, Weather, Water, Fossils, Bacteria and Fungi, Star and Planets - the world around us. Best of all, each kit comes with a colorful, Magic School Bus themed manual and a paired guide for adults. You don’t need to be a science nerd to be able to have fun leading and learning as a parent. There’s also an online clubhouse with further information for young explorers. This is truly a gift that keeps on giving.


“We bought these kits almost a year ago and my kids have been loving them. Each month they arrive, the kids get extremely excited to get together the materials to do the experiments...It gives a good outline and the kids enjoy understanding what is needed to make everything work. I would recommend this to a friend.”


“My children are really enjoying their science now! Any time they get to do hands on, it's awesome!” - Kristina P


“The kids ages are 9, 7 and 4 and they really like these kids. We unschool so this brings science into the house in a fun way. The first kit we did led to other discussions, pulling out the microscope, books on microscopic things to look at, etc.” - Jennifer G

ShillerMath Fractions

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That feeling when...math finally clicks! The Shiller Math Fraction set is a complete package of lesson plans for multiple ages, manipulatives for hands-on and visual learning, and a truly step-by-step guide for parents. Thinking through and preparing every lesson detail is something you won’t have to do when teaching fractions, because Shiller Math already has.


Based on a montessori teaching methods for a homeschool audience, this kit provides the play by play to teach fractions to children at different levels. And because it’s so drawn out, you not only get more for your investment for teaching multiple ages, but you save gobs of time in prep work, which is priceless. That, and when your child masters this important skill.


Colorful, varied, and well thought out, this is one of the best gifts you can give your children and yourself.


I've been using ShillerMath Fractions for our homeschool with our 4 year old, 6 year old and 8 year old. My kids have learned so much! I'm in awe of how quickly they've learned addition and subtractions with fractions and even division and multiplication. They love the fractions disks and I love how easy it is to teach with this material. No preparation required. Excellent product!” - Ana W

Gifts for Ages 13 to 15

LearnToMod - Minecraft

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If you have a youngster, you’ve probably heard of Minecraft. It’s one of the most popular games for kids. And this coding game takes it to the next level. Kids learn to modify their Minecraft world with a year-long online “course”, and in doing so, learn computer programming with Java™! This is not just a fun game. This is a game that stokes creativity and guides kids toward technological confidence: how about giving your child two of the most important attributes in the 21st century, wrapped up in a game?


“My ten year old daughter, who had NO previous Java exposure, began the Mod Design 1 course at the beginning of the year. She finished her first Mod within eight weeks. Since the license we purchased said it was good for an entire year, I told her to continue creating mods and asking the teaching staff for assistance. She’s now almost finished with her second, more complex mod and I am very pleased with the team responsible for interacting with the students. They are friendly, encouraging and seem sincerely excited to be teaching and shaping the next generation of IT experts. My daughter, my IT husband and I highly recommend this program and company!”


My son is addicted to Minecraft. It’s is a creative game that challenges him to build ever more complex designs from buildings to creatures. As a homeschooler, this program challenges him to create on a whole new level. He learns basic Java language programming to design totally new tools, armor, ores and other things. He then “imports” his new design into the Minecraft game on his computer. This program has both engaging lessons and excellent tech support. I highly recommend this program.”


Youth Digital is a company with an express mission to empower kids to create with technology.

Math Madness Book Set

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If you’re looking for new ways to inspire a child who’s already math whiz, or encouraging one who’s overwhelmed by the subject, look no further than the Math Madness Book set. The set includes two different books, “65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Math!” and “101 Things Everyone Should Know About Math” that children ages 10 to 14 find fun and entertaining.


Whether these replace bedtime stories at your house, or your little one reads them independently, these books teach your child how critical math is for their everyday lives. With each book, your child is challenged to solve math brainteasers and answer math questions related to sports, cooking, money, travel and more.


“These books are a fantastic set for children 10 and up that are struggling with math anxiety. They present the problems in a very fun and approachable way that makes sense. It's math in the real world and helps kids understand how they will use math in their daily lives. I highly recommend starting with 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Math. It's fun to read and extremely enjoyable in the way it's laid out. Check out these books, you won't be disappointed.” – Shelley B


This is the perfect gift for kids, parents, educators, and anyone else interested in knowing the difference between an Olympic event score of 9.0 and Richter scale score of 9.0.

Life of Fred Pre-Algebra

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“Life of Fred” is quickly becoming a buzzword in the educational world. If any child has ever struggled with understanding math concepts, Fred is ready to jump in and help your child remember those tricky math concepts! How does he do it? Silly stories! The stories about Fred are so memorable, they will last a lifetime. As will the math lessons that are weaved into the stories.


In the Pre-Algebra series, students use math and science to solve quirky, real world scenarios – all while having fun with Fred of course! In this 3-book series, Fred covers concepts like numerals, area of a rectangle, the speed of light, nine forms of energy, Hooke’s law, photosynthesis, metric system, and more.


“My girls have never liked math because it does not come easily for them. I ordered Life of Fred Alg. 1 as review for them this summer. They like the fun and easy way it is presented and are understanding math more clearly. They agreed that they had fun with math for the first time ever!” -Judy


Parents of “non-math” kids will thank you for giving a gift that will help kids fall in love with math.

Gifts for Ages 16 to 18


Life of Fred High School Math

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Life of Fred is preparing for college! In this series, students learn algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and a few other lessons from Fred. The Zillions of Practice books are keyed directly to the chapters and topics in the associated book. Each problem is worked out in complete detail to offer additional help for a student who may have gotten stuck along Fred’s mathematical journey.


“My oldest has been going through LOF for a while and found these books really fun. Fred makes concepts really easy to follow and is interesting to read. High school math has never been easier and more fun to learn!” -Kelly H.


Fred is also a great gift for adults who are interested in developing their own math skills. One of Fred’s mom students says, “After buying Fred Apples for my daughter, I bought myself Fred Trig. I tried taking Trig in college, but I had signed up for a 7 a.m. class (big mistake the first semester of college). I could barely stay awake; my professor wasn't as engaging as Fred. I later took Statistics and stopped with math there. But I've always wished I had taken more math, because math is really just a language - it can be learned. I'm currently on page 80 of Fred’s Trig book. With Fred, doing Trig is like completing a crossword or a sudoku puzzle. It's my new favorite leisure activity.”


Shockingly Awesome Books

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From a book to create lego-based Christmas ornaments, to the popular comic book style books about electricity, physics, and even regression analysis, Shockingly Awesome Learning does a fantastic job of curating innovative books that make learning fun. Definitely worth checking out for older kids in your world!

Oh, the Places You'll Go - How to Incorporate a Book into the Classroom





Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss is by far one of my favorite books to use with students of all ages.  The message in the book is simple... in life, there will be obstacles you must overcome; sometimes life will be easy, but other times it might seem little tough.  You have to dig deep within yourself to keep going until you reach success.  Along the way, you may also experience some loneliness; keep pushing until you reach your goal.

I love how Dr. Seuss created the main character in this book to be the reader (you) of the book.  It really allows the reader to stop along the way and think about the words he/she is reading. I know every time I read this book, I read it with a new viewpoint.  What I find fascinating about this particular book is any person can relate to it; whether it is a young student who has yet to experience life ahead or an adult who has lived a full life. Everyone seems to get something from reading this book.

In a classroom, Oh, the Places You'll Go can be used in a variety of ways.
  1. Use the book as a read aloud. 
  2. Use the book as in literature circles.
  3. Use the book in a reading center with independent activities to complete. 
  4. Have a class set of books. Each student reads the book and dissects the meanings behind the author's phrases and word choices. 


Before Reading the Book:
  • Have students think of a place they would like to visit. Have each student draw a picture of a place they would like to visit. On a separate sheet of paper, have each student write a paragraph describing the place they would like to visit and why. Take the picture the students drew and create a picture quilt on a bulletin board for a visual.



After Reading the Book:
  • Have each student write a letter to his/her future self. In the letter, have the students describe how his/her dreams for the future. How does he/she see himself/herself twenty years from now? What type of occupation will he/she have? Where will he/she live?


  • In the book, the author refers to “moving mountains.” Ask the students to make a list of possible “mountains” they may have to move to achieve their future goals. 

  • You can also have students write a narrative paragraph or essay about anything that pertains to visiting a new place, an obstacle they may have overcome to get where they are going now, a personal goal for the future, etc. The topics are endless. I have a narrative writing prompt I would love to share with you, and the best part is it is FREE! 


On a personal note, I purchased this book for my daughter when she was born. We read this book to her all of the time.  When she began preschool, I purchased a new book. Each year I have her teachers write a note to her about how she was as a student, a funny story, or any other memories that were shared during the school year. I have kept this a secret from her, and when she is finished with school, I plan to give it to her as a present I know she will enjoy receiving. It serves as a gift full of many wonderful memories all preserved in one book. 


Head on over and grab a copy to keep in the classroom. You will see just how many ways you can incorporate this fantastic book into your classroom!





Happy Teaching!



What Rights Do You Have?


In the United States, citizens are guaranteed certain rights many people in other countries dream of having. What better way to show mastery of these basic rights than with a fun, engaging, hands-on activity! The Bill of Rights Match-Up is just the right center activity to add to your treasure chest of resources. 

The Bill of Rights Match-Up is a great resource to use when teaching a unit on government. This resource contains ten badges with the amendment numbers, ten badges with what each amendment states, a recording sheet, and a handout for the students to illustrate the meaning of one amendment. 

Students will match the amendment number card with the card containing what the amendment states. Once the students have sorted and matched the cards, they record their answers on the recording sheet. In addition to the recording sheet and center cards, there is a printable for the students to choose one amendment and illustrate it so that others will be able to understand its meaning. 


How do I set up centers in the social studies classroom? 

Incorporating center activities in the social studies classroom is really not a hard task. Here are some helpful tips to get you started on setting up centers in your classroom. 
  • Designate a specific place in your classroom that will work for your center activities. I always found my centers worked better on a table in the back of the room. It allowed the students an opportunity to transition to the center, work independently, have enough space to spread the activity out on the table, and it was free of other distractions. 
  • Choose a hands-on activity that goes along with the unit of study you are going to teach. 
  • Print the needed activity pages. If the activity requires pieces that will be used over and over by students, I recommend laminating the pieces for durability. 
  • Place everything for the particular activity in one spot, such as an envelop, an accordion file, or a tupperware container. 
  • If you have more than one center activity per unit, make sure you label the center pieces so students know which pieces go with each center activity.

What are the benefits of using centers in my social studies class? 

  • Students are able to be independent learners. 
  • Students are able to explore and learn at their own pace. 
  • Students are able to take risks without the fear of failure or not having the correct answer. 
  • Students become confident in their learning. 
  • Students can express themselves freely in the center. 


What do I do when the students complete their center activity? 

Because students are able to work independently and at their own pace, students will complete the center activity at different times. Always have enrichment work or assignments handy for those early finishers. When all students have rotated through the center, take an inventory of the center activity and make sure you still have all of the parts of the center activity. If you are missing a piece of the center activity, make a note of it so you can replace the missing piece before filing the center activity away to use the next time you teach the unit. This will help you be organized and prepared for the next time you pull out the center activity. Clean the center area. Next, get ready for your next center activity. 

If you teach social studies and do not use center activities on a regular basis, I hope you will consider giving centers in the social studies classroom a try! You will not be sorry you tried!

If you teach social studies, check out the Bill of Rights Match-Up. You students are sure to love it!

Happy Teaching! 

Scotch Thermal Laminator...A Teacher's Best Friend



On the top of every teacher's must-have list is a laminator. I have been through several in my years of teaching, but I will tell you the one I have now is my all-time favorite. It is easy to use, affordable, and so far after two years is still working like a charm!

I laminate everything...literally everything! Even though sometimes I know I may not use it again, it is getting laminating because I love using my laminator. Prior to purchasing my own laminator, I would have to plan ahead- way ahead- to have my items printed, pre-cut, labeled, put in a file, and sent to the media center to wait their turn to be laminated. This could sometimes take a little while depending on how many teachers needed laminating, how many lessons were going on in the media center, if we were out of laminating film, if the laminator was jammed, etc. I think you get the idea.

Anyway, one day I decided it was time to finally just purchase my own. My first one was not a very good one; it was cheap and did not hold up very well. I got exactly what I paid for with that one. Lesson learned!




I did a little research, and read online reviews. After the research was complete, I decided to purchase the Scotch Thermal Laminator 2 Roller System and Scotch Thermal Laminating Pouches. (Links to both of these are at the end of this post.)

So now it is your turn. If you do not own a laminator of your own, there are five reasons, your deserve a laminator. 

1. No More Wait Time! - Your time is precious! Do not spend it waiting around wondering when you are going to get to laminate your items; or if you are in a school where you have to drop your items off to have laminated, you do not need to spend time wondering when they will be finished. If you have your own laminator, your wait time is when you want it to be. 

2. Prep When You Need and Want to Prep! - It's your call. Your laminator gives you the flexibility to be able to prep whenever you are ready. You are not waiting on anyone, and you do not have to prep so far ahead to have it laminated for you. 

3. Prep at Home or at School...It's Your Time! - Do you want to prep at school? Great! Would you prefer to prep at home in your pjs? Awesome! It's your call! You can do that with your own laminator because it is portable and light. I carry mine back and forth all of the time in my bag when I choose to prep in a different location. It's easy and allows me to focus on the things I need to focus on at the time. 

4. All Pieces Stay Together! - I am not sure about you, but I have lost task cards here and there and parts of my bulletin boards over the years to and from the media center as my laminating has journeyed to and from my classroom. Once I purchased the laminator, this no longer happened. Win-win! 

5. Tax write-off! - I am not an accountant, nor can I give tax advice, but I know in my state teachers are able to write off certain educational expenses. Keep your receipts from your educational expenses throughout the year, and make sure your ask your accountant about this. 






If you are a teacher and do not have a laminator, I promise this will be one purchase will not regret! I know this is one of my favorite purchases I have ever made...okay, besides colorful pens and Sharpie markers! 

Happy Day, Everyone!                                                                        Graphics provided by Ashley Hughes.

Stitch Fix- Summer Lovin'

Sweet, sweet summertime...well, almost! But, school is out so technically it is summer if you ask anyone who lives close to me. We have managed to get one trip in the books (the daughter snuck in a trip without us, so she has gone on two trips). When we arrived home from our trip, I had a familiar little box waiting for me. Yep, it was my Fix!

Since it was time for summer, they sent some fun clothes. They were so cute! They even threw in an adorable purse in a neutral color that can go with anything. 

I was headed out tonight and had one of the shirts on, so I asked the hubby to take a pic (okay, he had to take a couple until he got the final approval that I was satisfied) so I could share). This shirt is one of the pieces that came with this month's Fix. Isn't cute and fun? It goes great with jeans, capris, and shorts. It has a relaxed look that is fabulous for the summer. 


Have you tried Stitch Fix? If so, how was your Fix this month? If you have not tried Stitch Fix yet, CLICK HERE to sign up to try it. I promise it is super easy. If you don't like it, you can send everything back in the prepaid postage envelope they send you with your Fix. 

Teachers Pay Teachers Headquarters is...Amazing!



Exactly one week ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Teachers Pay Teachers Headquarters. All I can say is...Ah-Mazing! 

I am not really sure what I envisioned it would look like, but it was booming place. I guess I thought it would be more like sectioned off offices where people tended to their own business and did their own work. It was anything but this. The room was very open. There weren't cubicles or anything like that either. The best way to describe it is long table-like desks with computers in rows, almost like a computer lab. It is a very open working environment. There were several conference rooms available if groups needed to meet. There were actually several meetings being held while we were there.

Samantha and Jillian were fabulous hostesses who answered my initial questions and were super nice. I was able to talk to Adam and many others at lunch. The entire staff was friendly. It was a wonderful experience!

If you are a buyer or a seller on TpT, please know, there is a team of fantastic, hardworking people who are doing phenomenal work behind the scenes trying to make your work as a teacher as smooth as possible. Thank you for all your hard work! 


One of our favorite things we did while in New York was walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked into Brooklyn, had ice cream from the Ice Cream Factory, rode the carousel at Jane's Carousel, and walked along the waterfront. 

As we were walking across the bridge, we took in all of the sites. My daughter has this love of water towers; she finds them absolutely fascinating! Where we live, water towers are all on the ground and there may be only one to three water towers per town. She had already conducted her research to know water towers in New York were much different than in South Georgia. She loved looking at all of the water towers on the buildings. Before we left TpT Headquarters, Sam showed pointed out on her phone there were two water towers we would want to look for our little adventure. One was a stained glass water tower, and the other was a red and white striped water tower. (The pictures below definitely do not do the beauty of the water towers justice.) 



We opted for the subway back to Manhattan so we could make it back in time for some more activities, but it was well worth the walk across the bridge. If you ever have the opportunity to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, I highly recommend it. 

Prior to leaving for the trip, I asked my daughter what was the one thing she wanted to do while in NYC. She said she "had" to go to the Statue of Liberty. We went and were able to go as far up as the pedestal; the crown tickets had been sold out for the date we wanted to go for a couple of months, but the pedestal was good. If you are going to the Statue of Liberty, my advice of to get there early to be on the first or second wave of ferries; otherwise, your wait could be a long one. We were lucky to get there early, but when we returned, we saw long, long lines. 


The last night we were in NYC, we went to see Matilda. It was fabulous, and it was a wonderful show for my 8-year old daughter to see. The singing, dancing, and acting were all phenomenal! The adults and kids in the show were spectacular. It had my daughter sitting on the edge of her seat! The show was a wonderful way to end a great couple of day in NYC. 


NYC, it was great! TpT, thank you for a memorable time! We hope to see you all again soon!

Unlocking the Secrets of Interactive Notebooks



Interactive Notebooks seem to be the rage in classrooms across America right now. In fact, there are resources for them for all subject areas, grade levels, and they are in designed for differentiation. Every teacher I speak to who uses them absolutely loves them! But there may be someone out there who is still on the fence, so why would I choose to use it in my classroom?

Here are some reasons every teacher would want to use Interactive Notebooks.

1. Student-Centered

The focus of using Interactive Notebooks in a classroom is because it is student-centered. Interactive Notebooks do not take the place of teaching, but rather they reinforce the skills and content taught by providing students an opportunity to record information learned and research additional content to include. The student decides what information is recorded in the notebooks.

2. Hands-on Learning

How many students do you know who need movement incorporated into their classroom schedule? For this reason, Interactive Notebooks provide a good balance of hands-on learning as they allow for movement instead of just sitting and listening to a lecture. Students actually enjoy cutting and assembling the notebooks.

A few years ago, I shared one of my Interactive Notebooks I created with a co-worker. At first, the co-worker was unsure if the students were going to be receptive to the idea because they were 8th graders. The students loved it so much, she decided to use Interactive Notebooks with every content area she taught.



3. Provide a Working Product

An Interactive Notebook is not completed in one day; it is a work in progress. The students can add to it daily or once a week. They are designed to meet the needs of your classroom and can be tailored to meet the needs of your students. By providing a means to look at work from the beginning of the year to the end of the year in a single notebook, the teacher and students are able to look at student growth. It is amazing how differently a student responds to some questions at the beginning of the year compared to similar questions at the end of the year.


4. Built-in Study Guide

One of my favorite reasons for using Interactive Notebooks is because it provides a built-in student guide for the students. This study guide is ready for test prep at any time of the year for quizzes, chapter tests, unit tests, and even standardized tests. I always have the students leave the first several pages in the notebook blank to use as an on-going 'Table of Contents' to help make it easier to find certain topics when students are reviewing or studying.

5. Ownership

Students are proud of their Interactive Notebooks. They spend a tremendous amount of time working on them, and I have found that even students who have a hard time staying organized are able to keep an Interactive Notebook. I believe this is because it is THEIR personal INB. I always smile when I see students paying close attention to detail in their drawings and illustrations, because I know this is when it has clicked with them the notebooks is theirs.

If you are looking for Interactive Notebook Resources click HERE!




 

Thank you to Graphics from the Pond and KG Fonts for the use of their talents in the title image!