Thursday, 25 June 2015

Planting a Vegetable Garden with Children

I love being in the garden but am not very good at it!  We have a small 'vegetable' patch in out garden but there is really not much to it.  The mint and strawberries have taken over and we are yet to harvest any lemons, tomatoes and capsicum from the plants which were planted.  I actually think the dogs are to blame for this as the baby tomatoes and capsicum always seem to disappear and the leaves that are around the plant always looks, well, rather flat - like someone took a nap and when they woke, decided to have a little snack.

We also planted a Mulberry tree - my reasoning that it would be wonderful to keep silk worms and they love Mulberry leaves.  Unfortunately, Mulberry trees are not indigenous to South Africa, so I needed to find one and work my limited propagating skills.

After successfully locating and selecting three ideal branches to propogate (with permission from the owner) only one decided to grow, and then... just as I started seeing the first mulberries, the plant disappeared!  No jokes!  I can only assume that because the tomatoes and capsicum were finished, the dogs decided it would be the next target.

This video may not be very appealing for children, but it will give you (and me) some necessary information if you do not have 'greenfingers' but are attempting gardening with your children.




Sesame Street also brought out a more child-friendly episode which children would enjoy and motivate them to want to plant vegetables.



Hopefully this will give you some confidence in heading into the garden with your children and starting your won little vegetable patch.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

'In the Garden' Theme

I love being in the garden and designed a theme pack for Pre-K/K using the garden as my inspiration.  The aim of this pack is to prepare a student for Kindergarten and can also be used to reinforce work covered in Kindergarten.

Many of the activities can also be adjusted as your child/students becomes more able.  Here is what I did with my daughter:

We copied patterns and then made our own.


We used a white board marker to practise fine motor and writing skills and then discussed the connection between the two objects that we connected.


We did basic sums using soda can 'tabs' as counters.  Add the leaves together and search for the flower.



We sorted 'flower pot' pictures according to their initial sounds.


We built number puzzles.  Even though my daughter is not familiar with reading number words yet, she is slowly starting to recognize them.



More practice with initial sound by spinning the flower spinner and then graphing the sound which the picture started with.


We had such fun comparing the groups of leaves to determine which pile the caterpillar should munch!  Yum Yum!


The answers were recorded on a worksheet.  Younger children may not have the ability to write yet, but can still count the leaves and determine which pile is bigger.


We are still very early in the sight word stage in my home.  This activity entails recognizing the words among others that are similar and then collecting the desired circles to create the picture.  






Another sight word activity included, is the 'kite' activity.  Initially, I hung the kite in the tree next to my daughter but quickly realized that her fluency is not advanced enough to recall from distance.  I then moved the kite next to her, but when we do the activity again, she will hopefully be more familiar with the words and I would be able to hang the kite.





Other activities in the pack include ordering and listening activities.  You can find the pack in my Teacher Pay Teachers Store by clicking on the image below:


Saturday, 20 June 2015

A Garden Scavenger Hunt

It is winter here now, but we are lucky to have the most wonderful days among those wintery ones. When the sun comes out, I like to get out.  My children are 'outside' children and grumpiness, more often than not, disappears as they exit the house, into the garden.

Apart from normal play, we sometimes do organised activities.

Today we completed a Garden Scavenger Hunt.




We each chose a numbered page (yes, Adam included) and then an object page.

The aim of the 'adventure' was to find the number of objects as was displayed on the chosen numbered page.  So for example, Megan chose page number 7 and her object was twigs, so she needed to find seven twigs.

We then pasted the objects to the page and then proceeded to take another numbered page and object.


As you can see the pages are A5 but I included an A4 page for 9 and 10 as the smaller page will probably get a bit crowded with objects.

If you would like a version of this Garden Scavenger Hunt, grab it here or by clicking on the picture below.


I have a whole pack dedicated to being In the Garden!  It is aimed at Pre-K / K and focuses on Literacy and Numeracy.  Should you be interested, you can view it here.  (Or by clicking on the image.)



I would love to know what your children thought of this activity, so please come back to let me know.

Monday, 15 June 2015

A Gift for Grandma


It is my mother's birthday on June 17 and I needed to think of a meaningful gift.


We are not a 'present' family, meaning that we do not place a lot of emphasis on expensive gifts, but I always get both my parents something small and (hopefully) meaningful.

This year, I decided to give something inspired by my children.  They are growing so fast and I wanted something that captured them as little children and their love for my mother.

After a lot of thought, I settled on framing their hand prints with a little quote, signifying our thoughts on Grandma.

After finding the right words to use, I searched the internet for a company that would custom make a vinyl that I could use (as my handwriting would never compare to something professionally done).  To my surprise, it was so easy to find a company (who, btw, also print on mugs and do sandblasting on glass - they might be my new go-to gift supplier).  I also purchased a frame.



If you would like to grab a version of the words I used, please do so by clicking on the image/words below.




I then printed a grey chevron background and marked off the size that I would need to fit in the frame.

I mixed a light pink paint for Megan and a light blue paint for Adam.  I painted Adam's hand first - quite an achievement to keep his hands out of the paint and then from touching everything with his painted hand - and quickly placed it on the chevron paper, leaving behind a tiny little hand print.  I decided to make two copies, so that I could choose the better of the two.  Then I painted and printed Megan's hand.


Which one do you prefer?  I went with the one on the left.

You can't really make out the lines which indicated the frame size in this picture but it is positioned in the middle of the page.  I used an A5 size frame.

Once the paint had dried, I cut out the section needed and chose the better version.

I needed to use a hairdryer to help ease the vinyl onto the glass of the frame - yes, I put the vinyl on the glass and not the paper.  I think it stands out more than if it were printed onto the paper after the hand prints were done - although printing it would make it more cost effective.

I am happy with the result and can't wait for my children to present my mom with her gift.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Using QR codes in the classroom


Do you consider yourself as a ‘tech-savvy’ teacher?  It is such a challenge for teachers now days to stimulate students with paper and pen when they are driven by technology!  Technology is all around them and is very much part of their lives. It is our responsibility as teachers, to bring what students know into their daily teachings.



This might be a daunting task for those who do not have a technological mind. I have found that using QR codes is an easy way for teachers to bridge the ‘technology in the classroom’ gap.  I am sure you have seen the little square shaped barcodes scattered around in your environment.  They are in magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, subways, on food wrappers and information pamphlets, just to name a few.

These codes are making information accessible at the click of a button. Students can use their tablets or Smartphones to download a free QR Code Scanner from their app store.  Once the app is on the device, all that needs to be done is to open the app, hover the device over the code and it will automatically scan it and reveal the ‘hidden’ text.

For you as the teacher, you would need to know how to create the QR code.  I like to use QR stuff.  It is a free QR code generator which offers many options, including inserting different data types and changing the color of the code.

You select the data type you are creating a QR code for,




insert the necessary text




choose a color for your code


and then download the code which has been generated.


So, you are probably wondering how this can be incorporated in your classroom.  Here are a few ideas that you could use and that will hopefully make instruction easier, more varied and more engaging for students.
  • Use them as an instruction. Display a QR code on the whiteboard.  When students enter the classroom, they immediately scan the code and follow the instructions.  Here is an example:

  • Use the code as a method to group students.  They each take a code out of a box (or are handed one) and then scan it to find out which group they are in .  Grab a free version of group cards by clicking on the image below.  There are 6 cards, with the codes revealing numbers from 1 - 6.


  • Use them as a memorandum to make a task self-correcting. I like to use QR codes on task cards and in board games.  This means that the students can complete the task card and then scan the code to check their answer.  They then only need to ask for assistance if they do not understand where the correct answer from.  Find this Long Vowel Sound board game here.
 Long Vowel Board Games

  • Use them as an information carrier. Students need to scan the code to acquire some information needed to complete a task.  The QR code can link to a website with a particular article, video, song, picture etc needed to complete an assignment, question or task.  Below you can see the QR codes used to differentiate Synonyms by offering a definition when scanned, enabling students to select the most appropriate synonym.  Grab it here.

  • Use it as a reward system. Students scan the code to reveal a reward for good behavior or work.

Feel free to visit my store to find some more QR code activities.

I hope I have given you some ideas to incorporate QR codes into your class situation so that you are able to slowly include them in everyday teaching.

How do you use QR codes in the classroom?  I would love to know!  Leave a comment to offer even more ideas to readers.



Sunday, 7 June 2015

Pool Party Blog Hop


I am so excited to get my new blog started with a Bog Hop Pool Party to celebrate my friend Celeste's birthday (From The Education Highway)!  This is going to be a fun-filled event brimming with great summer ideas, recipes, freebies and a giveaway!  Plus, find a useful ebook at the end of this post containing information about all the sponsors of the giveaways.


Now, the summer break is a lovely long vacation, and while it is wonderful having the children at home, you might run out of things to keep them busy and end up feeling frustrated.  When frustration kicks in, I always resort to baking with my children.  Whether it be a store bought pre-mix or something a little more adventurous, which actually involves measuring, sifting and following detailed instructions, we tackle it.  My daughter is five and there is nothing that brightens her mood as much as when I suggest baking!

I have found that the more she is allowed to do, the better, so I have a few recipes that she can take ownership of and perform most of the steps.


I must admit that I have a sweet tooth and my view is the only reason why I have dinner is so that I can have dessert.  Now, I wish that I could indulge every evening, but that would not be the right decision, so when we have guests or are invited to friends' homes, I like to offer to whip up something yummy for dessert to take along.  My favourite treat is Lemon Crunch!  It is a delicious, lemony fridge tart, which is quick to make and is always a winner (plus it is easy enough for my daughter to help make).  Below you can see my daughter preparing the biscuits for the base:




Grab a copy of my Lemon Crunch dessert below by clicking on the image.  It is a sample from my No-Bake Recipes product in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Lemon Crunch Recipe - Learning with Sunflower Smiles


I have put my collection of No Bake Recipes on sale for the duration of this Celebration!  Save $1 and get it for only $2!  Click here or on the picture to find it in my store.

 No Bake Recipes




I also find board games are a winner in my house,  It is rather challenging now that my son is at the age where he wants to 'destroy' every constructive thing that we are doing (he is 22 months), so we play when he is having a nap.

 I have a set of language board games in my store which focus on  long vowel sounds.  They are offered with and without QR codes and can offer some spelling practice as well as entertainment during the vacation.

 Long Vowels


Be sure to check out the bundles to get the set at a reduced price!


Celeste, from The Education highway is also hosting a giveaway where you can win some great resources.  I have donated my Long A Vowel Sounds Clip Cards, and they are in Giveaway Pack 1.  Be sure to enter below:



a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Hop along with the other other bloggers involved to pick up some more Summertime ideas, recipes and freebies!






Click on the image to download the ebook:


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