Monday, November 2, 2009

Fabulous Fans

Have the wintertime blahs? Need a new way to make school interesting? Put this simple idea into practice and let the kids run with it!

You may have seen them in the stores, now make fantastic information fan books at home! The fun shape and small writing area won’t intimidate even hesitant writers. You can teach your students to use bullet points for key information.


  1. Cut paper into strips (2” x 8 ½ “).
  2. Punch a hole in the bottom of all strips, in the same place.
  3. Use one strip to make a title.
  4. On the top of each of the other strips, draw a picture or use clip art of a famous person you are studying. Cut and glue on.
  5. Write the name on the card.
  6. Cut around the top of the person’s head, leaving the bottom part connected to the card for stability, optional.
  7. Put a metal brad through the hole in all of the paper strips
  8. Students write information about one person per card.

This format can be used for art, history, scripture heroes, science, music, the States, etc. It is an easy way to write down quick facts you want to remember.

We made Colonial History fans when we learned about Early America. The kids loved filling in their fan with information about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abigail Adams, and Benjamin Franklin.

More Fabulous Fan Ideas:

  • Famous Romans
  • Famous Artists
  • Artwork from a museum
  • Famous Scientific theories
  • Musicians of Europe
  • Animals of the Rainforest
  • My Family

Sunday, May 24, 2009


With our extended family in 5 different states, we decided to start an "e-story". Reminiscent of a chain letter, we wrote chapter 1 (we brainstormed over dinner) and emailed it on to the next family. They added a chapter and forwarded it on until all the families had a chance to add to our tale.

Each chapter developed characters, introduced villains, created hero's, and took more turns than a pile of spaghetti and meatballs! It was a fun project that our whole family participated in.

How To:

One family writes chapter 1 introducing characters/setting, etc.
Make the plot simple and open-ended.

E-mail your chapter to the next family. They will email your chapter and their chapter to the next family.

E-mail a schedule of who mails to whom and a time limit (this keeps the story moving-we gave everyone a week)

Do It Again! Try this with a group of friends. Try this within your immediate family. Let Dad, Mom, and all the kids each take a turn or two adding to the story!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Shared Journal - One Journal, Two Writers

"I've got mail!" There's a blue journal with a ladybug on it, on my pillow tonight!
I have a journal that I share with my daughter. We write entries back and forth to each other, sharing ideas, thoughts, favorite books, and memories I have from when I was her age.
A shared journal is a great way to give individual compliments and attention. Sometimes questions or observations can be made in a journal easier than face to face.

In the shared journal with my other daughter, we doodle and decorate the pages. She loves to draw and express herself through her art. We make plans for trips to the movies or adventures we want to take, we write about favorite characters or artists.

Both journals have been eye-opening. I find that my adult perspective is very different from a 10 year old's-have I forgotten how hard it can be to be a kid, sometimes? I find that my children have profound insights that help me to see the world more clearly.

These journals are a fun forum-not a soapbox or lecture series! I do not correct spelling or grammar. We don't write every day, sometimes it's weeks between entries. My daughters write on one side of their journals, I write on the other.

Sharing a journal can be so rewarding! It is a treasured scrapbook of our relationships as mother and child. And, I hope someday when the questions become more serious, we'll have a healthy relationship where answers and questions can be discussed and answered.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thank You Cards

The art and tradition of writing thank you notes has been lost in our information-age, computer-driven society. Yet, they are one of the nicest ways to show your appreciation! Help your kids write notes of gratitude for the gifts they receive.

Here are some hints to remember:
Have note cards handy! Keep them easy to see and reach in your writing area.
Take a photo of the gift and send it too. (Don’t let the photo sit in your camera—print it out and send it!)
Teach by example. Write thank you cards for gifts that you receive!

Here are some important elements of a good thank you card:
Greet them (Dear Grandma, is appropriate)
Thank them for the gift (tangible or not)
Tell them something nice about the gift and how you will use it. (The hand-knit scarf will come in handy this winter!)
Mention the past and (something like: your gift reminds me of the fun time we spent together last summer)
Mention the future (for example: I hope that we will see you again soon!)
Thank you (yes it’s good to say it again!)
Regards (make the closing simple) That’s it! Now address your envelope, seal and stick the stamp!

For your new “Thank You Note” enthusiasts, you may want to buy or make an inexpensive address book for children or students. Make some cards, add a book of stamps and envelopes, and you’ve made a “Thank You Note” Kit!

One mother I know gets the whole family involved! She writes the thank you note and then family members sign their name (no matter how young). Her thoughtful notes are always appreciated, and what a great example she is setting for her sons.

Friday, May 1, 2009


What do you do with all those plastic Easter eggs AFTER Easter?
Around our house after Easter we have another form of email... we call it egg mail!
A big basket of plastic eggs sits on the kitchen table with a cup filled with paper strips and pencils. Nightly when we gather around the table for dinner-everyone grabs a couple of strips (papers are 1" x 4") and starts writing...the strips are so small that anyone can write that much! Pencils fly writing love notes or words of encouragement.

For those who need a little prompting we have colored paper strips with phrases like:
I remember when you...
One of your greatest talents is:
You taught me:
5 words that describe you are:
You make me happy when...
Let's go...
You are successful at :
These seem to help even our most reluctant writers.

The paper notes are then folded into the appropriate colored eggs (Mom=blue, Dad=green, etc.) and dropped into a colored bag or delivery basket. Egg-mail is delivered after dinner by an eager 10 year old.
Bedroom doors in our house each have a decorated paper bag where eggs are delivered. You can also use empty Easter baskets! Empty eggshells are returned to the kitchen basket in the morning mail.

Not only does this encourage friendly feelings in the family, but boosts writing, penmanship, and spelling as well!