The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

August 24, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

Tips for Breaking through Math Barriers

shutterstock_247890532 1I remember when I taught first grade a few years ago. It was an exciting time; a time when I learned that mathematics anxieties for teachers — whether home, school, or public — are real. These anxieties may stem from many different reasons such as not being a solid math student or being uncertain if you can articulate the concepts to others. If you struggle with teaching math, here are some tips to help you.

Release the pressure

As educators, we are constantly evaluating our performance. If our students or children are not making progress, we assume the fault lies with us. Although evaluation is an important component of lesson review, it should not rule out individual student learning capacities. When teaching math, we must remember that children will learn at their own rate and not all skills will be achieved at the same time as their peers. When we make teaching about ourselves, we undermine our student’s learning.

Slow Down

It’s easy to get caught up in quickly moving through the lessons. In math, slowing down is a great option. If your child is struggling with a concept, don’t keep pushing through it, instead, research different methods until one works for the learner. Often, slowing down is the key ingredient to understanding.

Take into account your child’s learning style

We all have our preferred method of learning. When teaching, consider your child’s preferred learning method. If you have an auditory learner, consider introducing new skills through song. If a song can’t be produced to make the concept easy to understand, take the time to find engaging lectures online. My daughter has shared with me that she prefers a specific online program over other mathematics programs we have used in the past. She appreciates the online teacher’s verbal explanations, and I believe it helps that his voice draws her into lessons. Whichever learning method fits your child, take the time to find those additional resources.

Note: Evan-Moor offers online interactive programs to help your child learn and practice math skills. You can try the math lessons in a free trial.

Take a Break

I mentioned slowing down earlier and allowing your learner to take their time, but you could also consider resetting. How does one reset? Stop what you are doing and take a break. If the anxiety or emotions are high, then chances are the work that is being completed is counterproductive. Studies have shown a direct link between academic performance and student anxiety. During a reset you don’t have to completely quit doing all things math, but you can hone in on the topics where your learner excels. Students need to experience success so they don’t lose their interest or drive.

Math will often leave many of us scratching our heads, but this doesn’t have to control our ability to teach our children. Taking the time to re-evaluate and research different approaches can help you get through most math barriers that may come your way.


Blog-latonya1Latonya Moore is the creator of Joy in the Ordinary, a site where she focuses on seeking joy in everyday moments. She enjoys spending time with her husband and home educating her daughters.

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A picture of a rainforest bulletin board with a toucan.

August 17, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Rainforest Bulletin Boards

A picture of a rainforest bulletin board with a toucan.Dress to impress is what my mother always said. I like to apply this concept in my classroom as well. This is why I love Evan-Moor’s Bulletin Boards Every Classroom Needs. It is a simple; no hassle resource for keeping your room updated with the changing seasons. We are all visual learners and incorporating smart visual tactics within your classroom can inspire your students and create learning opportunities.

This toucan bulletin board does just that. It’s great for showing off work. If you’re a homeschool mom and bulletin boards just aren’t your thing, keep reading; this applies to you as well. Designating an area within your home to “show off” your students work is a great method for instilling pride of ownership. It’s also a perfect opportunity to incorporate a theme for your month and integrate project based learning into your curriculum. (Psst…hit your art goal as well by having your children help create it.)  Here are some ideas below for thematic lessons.

  • Adjectives: Develop good writing techniques by reviewing adjectives. Primary grade students can create descriptive sentences about toucan birds or other rainforest wildlife while upper grade students can write an informational essay on rainforest biomes.
  • Geography: Identify and label which continents are home to rainforests. You may also extend this lesson to comparing and contrasting different rainforest biomes around the world.

TeacherFileBox Users: Check out these simple lessons to use when teaching about rainforest animals. Don’t have an account: try it for free for 30 days at www.teacherfilebox.com.


 

Heather Foudy

Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

 

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owls

August 10, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

The Inside Scoop: 5 Ways to Build a Positive Relationship with your Child’s Teacher

owlsTeachers, parents, and students alike anxiously anticipate the first week of school with some trepidation and excitement. As a parent and elementary teacher, I understand the issues that arise at home and in the classroom. School is such an important part of our children’s lives and we want them to have the best experience possible. One way to facilitate that is to cultivate a relationship with your teacher. Here are some helpful strategies to develop a positive relationship with your child’s teacher.

  1. Stay in contact! Many teachers have weekly updates they send home. Check your child’s homework folder daily so you stay up to date on the current events of the classroom and read any messages your teacher may have sent you. Remember, teachers have an entire classroom of parents they must communicate with. Also, make it simple and easy for them to get in contact by keeping your phone number and email updated throughout the school year.
  2. Schedule meetings in advance. Ask when the best time to contact the teacher is. Don’t call during the middle of the day to talk about your student, while his or her teacher is currently teaching them. (Yes, imagine 25 first graders, unsupervised, as the teacher is on the phone…chaos!) Teachers also have weekly staff and student meetings on a regular basis. It is best to schedule ahead of time, if you have a concern you would like to discuss.
  3. Volunteer or donate items to the classroom. If you have the time, ask your teacher if she needs a volunteer once a week. Keep in mind, if you do volunteer, you need to arrive at the scheduled time. Teachers must prepare for parent volunteers just as they would for any other activity with the class. If you say you are going to be there, then make sure you show up. If you are unable to volunteer, donated classroom items are always appreciated. Teachers always purchase classroom items on their own dime so ask what you may contribute. Some basic items are tissues, baby wipes, construction paper, pencils, erasers, and crayons. If you really want to impress your teacher, ask them what brand, size or type they would prefer. Guaranteed homerun!
  4. Don’t talk about teachers negatively in front of your child. Everyone has different styles and personalities. If you find that a teacher is not a favorite that year, don’t advertise that to your student. It will ultimately undermine their learning. Rather, schedule a meeting with that teacher to explain your concerns and find a happy medium that satisfies both of you. Remember….it’s just one school year; onward and forward to the next.
  5. Develop a partnership with your teacher. Remember that they want the best for your student as much as you do. They entered this profession because they care about students and their progress. Use your knowledge as a parent to help your child’s teacher understand the best ways to help your child, and listen to the teacher’s strategies and suggestions too.

Heather Foudy

Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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students working together

August 3, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

Individualize Instruction with Centers

students working togetherTeachers who incorporate learning centers will tell you that it is a great learning strategy for many reasons. Some of these reasons include: 1) Increase student self-motivation and empower self-monitoring 2) Ability for teacher to integrate small group or individual attention 3) Individualization of instruction and meaningful learning activities leading to mastery.

Setting up and organizing centers on a regular basis can be a time consuming and daunting project! Here are some resources that can help ease the task of providing engaging, meaningful, and kid-friendly academic centers throughout your school year. The following centers resources are available at evan-moor.com in a variety of grade levels or grade ranges.

Take It to Your Seat- Math Centers, Grade 2 - Teacher's EditionTake It To Your Seat Series (available as Early Learning Centers, Math Centers, Language Centers, Literacy Centers, Writing Centers, Vocabulary Centers, Geography Centers, Science Centers): Full-color centers that are easy to assemble and prepare for a student to take to his/her seat for independent practice. Also available in e-book format. These centers work well as an individual or partner activity, and don’t require a dedicated space in the classroom, because students complete at their seats with everything they need organized in a folder.

Daily Language Review Centers, Grade 1“Daily” Centers Classroom Resource Kits (Daily Language Review Centers, Daily Math Practice, Daily Reading Comprehension): Students will practice and master important skills with 36 motivating centers throughout the school year. Students will quickly become familiar with this center format, and be able to complete ongoing centers all school year long. (Note: These center kits are currently on sale for $75.00 Save over $200 per kit and get these on sale, while supplies last.)

Some of my favorite moments as a teacher occurred while I was in the middle of small group or individual instruction, surrounded by the background hum of as students were engaged in learning centers. Best wishes to you as you plan your centers for the new school year!


contributor-marti2Marti Beeck started her career in education as a parent volunteer in her three children’s classrooms. Her many years of teaching experience, including adult school, intervention, and the primary classroom, was inspired by her background in brain-based learning. After working for four years as an editor in educational publishing, Marti currently works as a freelance writer and content developer.

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July 29, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

Loving vacation? Tips for teachers to ease back into a school routine

Blog-Back-to-schoolEvery teacher loves a vacation. It’s a chance to refresh and renew ourselves. It’s a chance to enjoy a quiet morning, sipping on coffee with no time schedule or rushing out the door. While this much needed vacation may feel like a million bucks, we all know it’s a huge struggle to jump back on board once that vacation is over. Not only do we struggle as teachers to return to a sense of normalcy, but our students do as well.

So, how do you keep a routine after you’ve returned from a day off, a week off, or summer vacation?

Here are my top five tips for keeping my classroom structure and my students on routine – for the beginning of the school year and after school breaks!

Tip 1: Show up prepared for the first day back. If you are unorganized, tired or aren’t prepared for the students, it will only lead to a very long and draining day back. Plan extra activities that will allow your children to move around and get those jitters out.

Tip 2: Stick to your routine!! It is CRUCIAL and your students will thank you for it. Don’t all of a sudden change your entire schedule up because you saw something on Pinterest or read an article while on break…it will throw EVERYTHING off!

Tip 3: Review your classroom rules, procedures and expectations. No matter how short the break was or how far you are into the school year, ALWAYS take time to review your classroom policies. It will keep things much more productive in your classroom.

Tip 4: Keep your expectations high, but also know your students will be excited to return to school and share about all the excitement they had over break. Allow for both active and quiet times in the classroom that allow them to express their feelings.

Tip 5: LASTLY, stay positive!! Keeping a positive mind towards your work and your students will only help motivate you to survive though the rest of the school year.


Erin Sawyer 2Erin Sawyer has been an elementary school teacher for 8 years and currently teaches sixth grade. She has also taught third and fourth grades. Erin enjoys finding resources that will motivate and challenge her students to learn. She also serves as the student council mentor to the upper-grade students.

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July 22, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

Teacher to Teacher: 5 Ways TeacherFileBox Will Change Your Life

Heather Foudy 2Take it from me, as a second grade teacher and mom of two, time is my nemesis. A resource that saves me countless hours in lesson development is Evan-Moor’s TeacherFileBox online.With TeacherFileBox, I was able to access differentiated instruction for my students with a click of my finger.

TeacherFileBox helped me eliminate countess hours of prep work while providing standards-based practice and instruction. Listed below are just a few of the many ways TeacherFileBox simplified my curriculum planning and instruction.

  1. Multiple search options: TeacherFileBox allows you to search online using grade level, subject matter, standards and key words to search for the exact lesson you are looking for.
  2. No more file cabinets: You may set up your personal file cabinet on the site so you can access your favorite lessons online anytime the need arises. You don’t have to ask yourself the question….”Did I refile that paper on place value?” All you have to do is log on, search, and print.
  3. Differentiated instruction at your fingertips: Students do not all work at the same level or pace; much to the chagrin of every educator. This online resource offers you instant lesson differentiation. You have access to all grade level work and can tailor your searches based on your current students’ needs.
  4. Unit building: Time is the enemy of the classroom. TeacherFileBox can offer countless thematic worksheets across the curriculum that supplement your current area of study through reading, writing and report building.
  5. Lesson review is an essential element in any classroom. TeacherFileBox offers a myriad of worksheets on foundational skills that students should master. Through this site, you have access to the many dailies created by Evan-Moor.

Some of my favorite resources are:

Daily Reading Comprehension Grade 1- Week 10 Compare and Contrast/Phonics

Daily Paragraph Editing Week 01: Jane Goodall: Learning About Animals

Daily Math Practice Grade 4: Week 01

Daily Language Review, Common Core Edition, Grade 6: Week 02

Some resources you might be interested in for unit building:

Grades 1-3 Dinosaurs Long, Long Ago

Grades 3-6 Explorers (Report building)

When you subscribe to Teacher-File Box, you get a 30-day evaluation. So why wait? You can begin using Evan-Moor lessons today!


Heather FoudyHeather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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July 6, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

Top Picks and Tips for your Homeschool Curriculum

2016 Homeschool Brochure ER coverAre you new to homeschooling or looking for materials to supplement your homeschool curriculum? Evan-Moor has many quality resources that are ideal for homeschoolers! We understand that the choices can be overwhelming, so we’ve created a brochure of “Homeschool Top Picks” to provide you a quick guide across subject areas.

Take a look at the Evan-Moor Homeschool Brochure.

 

Three top recommendations:

Daily Paragraph Editing1. Daily Practice series: Our Daily Practice titles provide skills practice across grade levels and curriculum areas: language arts, reading, writing, vocabulary, math, science, and geography. These homeschool resources are paced for every day of the week, making lesson planning easy. Your child will feel a sense of accomplishment as he or she practices key skills in the brief daily lessons. At the end of the week, you will have a snapshot of the skills your child has mastered and an understanding of which skills require additional practice. View all daily practice titles and get free samplers here.

Skill Sharpeners - Spell & Write2. Skill Sharpeners series: These full-color student activity books are perfect for enrichment for your child. Skill Sharpeners titles include Math, Science, Reading, and Spell & Write. Skill Sharpeners can be used for independent practice at grade-level or above-grade level to give your child a challenge. For a struggling student, you can use Skill Sharpeners below-grade level for independent or guided practice. See an overview of the Skill Sharpeners series here. And, read a homeschooler’s review of Skill Sharpeners.

History Pockets - Ancient Civilizations, Grades 1-33. History Pockets series: A long-time homeschool favorite, these project-based lessons provide everything you need to bring history topics to life. Meaningful hands-on tasks engage your child in social studies topics. Check out History Pockets for grades 1–3 or History Pockets for grades 4–6.

 

 

Budget-friendly options for homeschool:

All of the “top pick” resources can be found at www.evan-moor.com. Teacher’s editions can be purchased as e-books to save you shipping costs. Join our email list for coupon and promotion alerts!

Another great option for homeschoolers is to subscribe to Evan-Moor’s online lesson library: TeacherFileBox. You can access all of the resources in the homeschool brochure (plus most of what you can find on our website) for only $99.99 per year or $12.99 per month. If you’re homeschooling children of multiple ages, you gain access to all grade levels of every title! When you subscribe, you also get a free 30-day evaluation.

If you have other Evan-Moor favorites to share with homeschoolers, please leave a comment!


Picture of Lisa Vitarisi MathewsLisa Vitarisi Mathews is Evan-Moor’s executive editor. She has over 20 years’ experience in PreK–8 education, and has worked closely with teachers across the United States through Evan-Moor product training and workshops.

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How to Plan Your School Year

June 16, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

Five Resources that Can Simplify Your School Year

Welcome to summer break! Are you enjoying summertime BBQs, vacations, and lingering over lemonade with a good book? I hope so. As a teacher, I also know that you are already thinking and planning for the coming school year!

I have a list of go-to resources that can help reduce your summer prep time. These resources will help you meet the challenges of fitting everything into the school day, as well as providing meaningful educational experiences for your students.

How to Plan Your School YearHow to Plan Your School Year: This is a great resource for new teachers, or those who are looking for classroom management and planning ideas.

 

 

 

 

Theme Pockets - JanuaryMonthly Theme Pockets: A teacher resource for each month of the year featuring 3 thematic “pocket” books of content and hands-on learning that students create and themselves. Students end up with a portfolio-like book of their learning about a particular topic. Choose the Monthly Theme Pockets books that have your favorite topics, and you are ready when the time is right!

 

 


Daily Language Review

Daily Practice series: Each “Daily” contains short chunks of 10-15 minutes of daily practice. “Dailies” are available in a number of different subjects in a range of grade levels, including language arts, math, science, and geography. Each “Daily” is a lifesaver for providing practice and content when time is short but the need is there.

 

 

Art for All Seasons

Art for All Seasons: This teacher resource contains child-friendly art projects for every season that integrate with your curriculum.

 

 

 

 

TFBThumbnailTeacherFileBox: Consider a subscription to this huge library of Evan-Moor learning resources—all resources and all grades available for download to you for a small monthly fee. This option is great for those who need resources for differentiated instruction and a variety of topics and themes. You can even search by your favorite Evan-Moor titles. You can download pages or project pages, as you need them throughout the year. Visit this TeacherFileBox Pinterest board for a brochure, videos, and sample lessons.

 

Adding a few strategic resources to your collection can make a big difference in meeting the needs of your students. You will also have peace of mind knowing that you are prepared for anything the moment that you need it. Best wishes for a relaxing summer and a great school year ahead!

 


 

contributor-marti2Marti Beeck started her career in education as a parent volunteer in her three children’s classrooms. Her many years of teaching experience, including adult school, intervention, and the primary classroom, was inspired by her background in brain-based learning. After working for four years as an editor in educational publishing, Marti currently works as a freelance writer and content developer.

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Blog-workboxes

June 3, 2016
by Evan-Moor
0 comments

How to Create Meaningful Workbox Activities

Evan-Moor blog: young child thinkingDo you ever wish for a magic wand that would help your kids remember everything the FIRST time you told them? That would certainly save a lot of chocolate consumption at my house. Maybe at your house, too?

However, our brains were wired to practice. Even as babies, they listened to us name animals again and again before they could say them on their own. They practiced walking while holding onto furniture before they let go and took those precious first steps. They listened to us read the same book over and over, and then they somehow memorized it and let us know when we missed a word.

The reality is that kids need to practice. Practicing skills can give kids the opportunity to increase both their abilities and their confidence.

In the homeschool world, children often have “workboxes” with individual assignments based on what each child’s homeschool program says they should practice. In the classroom world, students have “work stations” or “centers” with assignments to practice either what was taught in a group lesson OR skills that students need to review and practice.

No matter what you call it, one thing is the same:
Our kids need meaningful ways to practice the knowledge and skills we teach them. However, the type of practice makes all the difference.

What makes a workbox activity “meaningful”?
For an activity to be meaningful, it has to be meaningful to your child first. If your child views an activity to be important or fun, they are MUCH more likely to remember the skills they are using.

As our child’s teacher, we can set up him or her up for success by choosing activities that are meaningful to both our child, as well as, what we value. Dare I say, I encourage you to look outside your curriculum. Seek out meaningful activities that inspire real learning for your child, not just giving them activities that set them up to memorize and then forget it all later.

Knowing where to start providing kids with meaningful practice can be tricky. However, I have found TeacherFileBox to be the most economical and time saving method!

What is TeacherFileBox?
TeacherFileBox is a collection of over 450 digital Evan-Moor publications for grades PreK-8. It is available in both monthly and annual subscription options.

How to Use TeacherFileBox:
If you want your child to practice a skill he/she learned in a language arts lesson, you can quickly search for activities in the search bar. You can also refine your search by grade level, subject, and specific skill, too!

For example, if I teach my child a lesson on compound words, I can search TeacherFileBox for related activities to use for practice in their workboxes later that week.

Why Teacher File Box saves time and money for your workboxes:

TeacherFileBox has great options that not only practice the compound word skills, but also offer a wide range of connections to other skills. By using multiple skills within one activity, your child’s brain is set up to be more engaged and more likely to remember!

Blog-Compound WordsGoing back to my compound words example, take a look at this screen shot.

The first activity is a fun game to practice. Another is a connected compound words in a geography lesson. A third option practices compound words with Spanish roots as well. My favorite is an activity that allows the child to figure out compound words using word cards!

If your child needs lots of practice, you have several options for the same price!

How TeacherFileBox helps me create custom workbox activities:
One of my favorite reasons that I use TeacherFileBox activities for my workboxes is that I can adjust the skill level based on my child’s progress.

For example, if my child is breezing through addition and subtraction in grade 2, I already have access to addition and subtraction activities in grade 3.

If my child is struggling with telling time activities in grade 2, I can have her practice activities from grade 1 to build confidence.

I don’t have to buy another curriculum or keep track of multiple workbooks for each subject. I can easily just adjust my search options to find the best meaningful activities for my child.

Workboxes in Action:

One of my favorite series of books in TeacherFileBox is called Take It to Your Seat. These hands-on activities are designed for children to practice skills independently. The Take It To Your Seat series includes these titles (for grades K–6.)  Preview sample centers from TeacherFileBox for each resource:

Another way we use TeacherFileBox in our workboxes is with individualized lessons with mom. If my third grader is studying economics, I can pull an activity from TeacherFileBox for her to work with me while my other child is during her own workbox activities. This allows more focused time for me to work with each of my children one-to-one to check for their understanding, have quality discussions, and keep our learning enjoyable.

The most important endorsement:

Even if I adore a teaching resource, it will only work if my children like it, too. The most important reason TeacherFileBox works for us is because my kids find the activities to be meaningful and not a “waste of time.” This is the most important endorsement of Evan-Moor’s quality and why I personally use Evan-Moor in my daily homeschooling.

I cannot imagine homeschooling without using TeacherFileBox in our workboxes. If you have not tried this combination, then I highly encourage you to sign up for the free trial of TeacherFileBox today.


Amy Michaels ProfileAmy Michaels is a certified teacher with 11 years of elementary classroom experience who is actively homeschooling her own children. Her mission is share the best teaching methods and resources with all homeschoolers. Amy supports parents through her podcasts, webinars, and online training for homeschoolers on her website www.thrivehomeschooling.com.

 

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Daily Summer Activities

May 19, 2016
by Evan-Moor
1 Comment

10 Ways to Avoid the Summer Brain Drain

As a parent of three children, I’ve been met with groans at the suggestion of schoolwork during the summer. However, learning can be “disguised” as summer fun, and basic skill practice can be presented in spaced practice over summer days. Here are a few favorite ideas for summer learning experiences.

  1. Summer learningCollect piles of good books and make time to read! Libraries, used-book stores, and thrift stores can provide new reading material.
  2. Enroll in summer reading programs at your local library, or encourage your children to keep a reading log of books.
  3. Be a tourist in your town and visit museums, parks, and interesting sites. Make a “wish list” of activities to do with your children.
  4. Help children create and write a blog about summer adventures. This Pinterest site provides sources for helping kids create their own blog.
  5. Make a journal so that children can write or draw pictures about the events of a given day or week, or write reviews about favorite books, movies, and outings.
  6. Get creative and try new arts and crafts or cooking projects, having your child take the lead in reading directions, gathering supplies, and applying math in measurements. Our favorite projects have been making ice cream from scratch and making soap! This blog provides ideas on using math in the kitchen with young children.
  7. Plant a small vegetable, herb, or flower garden.  This Kids Gardening website offers many great ideas, including planting a pirate’s garden, growing your own salad, and building a fairy house.
  1. Create an obstacle course outside. Have children plan a design on paper, and then build the course together. Our summer learning Pinterest board includes many ideas for backyard summer fun and more!
  2. Ensure that “screen” time is meaningful and educational.
  3. Set aside periods of time for reading and practice of basic skills. If you’re interested in summer enrichment books, I recommend Evan-Moor’s Daily Summer Activities­­ for grades PreK–8. I’ve used these activity books with my children and appreciate the teacher-developed activities that review all the core skills in reading, math, writing, language arts, and science.

We are interested in hearing how you keep learning alive over the summer months. Please share your ideas!


Image of Theresa WoolerTheresa Wooler has more than 10 years’ experience in K–6 classrooms as a parent volunteer and homeschool educator, has taught high school English, and is currently involved in education through Evan-Moor’s marketing communications team.

 

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