Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Freebie - Valentine Family Activity

Happy Friday! It was a long week - holiday weeks always feel long.  Today's freebie is one that you can stick away for next Valentine's Day.  This Valentine's Day Family Project is from Teacher's Breathing Space.  I love the concept - send home a heart that the entire family can work together to decorate, and then display everyone's project in the classroom.  What a wonderful family engagement activity! Go download yours and have an amazing weekend!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


I'm interrupting your Valentine's Day celebration to bring you some big news - Teachers Pay Teachers is having a SALE!

Whenever there is a sale a take some time to share what's on my wish list, because if I'm spending money you should too! In keeping with my theme of Family February I tried to pick out items that are geared toward family communication, and I found some amazing things!

Parent Handouts from Pocket of Preschool

Family Bingo Game from Probably in Preschool

How Do You Feel? Take Home Literacy and Activity Bag from Miss Vicki's Bookkits

And of course I always like to share some of my favorite items from my store - just in case you need a little more shopping inspiration.  This time around I thought I would do something a little different and share some of the resources that I've posted most recently. 

My brand new Joy in Everyday positive thinking set

Monster Math cards and the matching Monster Bingo set

Comparing Shapes geometry exploration set

It's not a sale post without featuring one of my all-time favorite products, this is especially helpful for those of you who are preparing for spring conferences or Kindergarten Readiness nights.

Enjoy the rest of your Valentine's day and make sure to take some time to do a little shopping!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Love Tree

There are a ton of ways that you could create a love tree.  The basic idea is to take some kind of tree branch - or you could even decorate a small Christmas tree - and hang paper hearts from the branches, similar to a thankful tree that you might do for Thanksgiving, but in this case ask parents, family members and your students to write down the things or people that they love.  It's an easy enough way to create a visual of all the things and people that are important to us.

I've got a little twist for you.  Instead of just writing down the names of things and people that your families love,  encourage them to write down all of the ways that they show love.  This is so helpful for the children because love is an abstract concept that can be very difficult to define.  When the children see all of the different ways that we show love, they have a better understanding of what love actually is. 

This is also a great conversation that you could have with the children - how do our families show us that they love us. Some of their answers might surprise you!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Family Valentine Station

Valentine's Day is the perfect holiday for celebrating families because it is all about love.  Focusing on the love between family members is also a great way to make Valentine's Day relevant for our youngest learners. 

I always spent a lot of time helping my students understand that Valentine's Day is a special day where we get to make sure the people that we love know how much we love them.  We would make valentine's for our family members, friends, and the special people in our lives. 

I recently thought of a way to extend this that I wish I would have done when I was in the classroom - Why not create a simple valentine-making station so that family members could also make valentines for the children quickly when they dropped off or picked up their child?

This would be fun for families - especially parents, who may not get as much time to do fun little projects as they would like. It would also be so fun for the children to get a special valentine from a parent.

They key to setting up something like this would be making sure that the items you have available allow family members to create quickly and without much mess.  I would include Pre-cut hearts in different sizes, tons of stickers, colored pens and markers, and glue sticks. 

I created a cute little sign that you can put at your station so that families know what to do (download it here!).  I can just picture a little table of valentine fun in the doorway of the classroom, as a parent I wouldn't be able to resist it.  You might also include a blurb in your February newsletter about the valentine state so that families know to look for it. 

There is definitely still time to set up something like this before Valentine's Day - I hope that your families love it!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday Freebie - Family Engagement Calendar

Happy Friday! I have found the perfect Friday Freebie for Family February - say that five times fast! Check out this Family Engagement calendar from Designed by Miss G.  Now, I know that this calendar is for September, but it is is such a great idea that I just had to share.  She also has freebies for October and November.  Stick them in your files for next year and you'll be glad that your family engagement activities have already been planned come next fall!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Using family photos in the classroom

The easiest way to start any family engagement effort is to begin collecting photos from each of your families.  There are so many ways that these can be used in the classroom. 

  • Decorate a quiet space with the photos and children can sit there and look at their family's photo when they are feeling sad or need a little reassurance.
  • Use them to help the children get to know each other
  • Talk about family structures and compare similarities and differences
  • Look at each family member's physical characteristics
  • Practice naming each family member and write their names
Of course the most difficult piece of this work is actually getting families to bring you the photos.  You could ask them to email them to you, which works out well if parents have photos on their phones.  I like to send home this assignment for families to work on together, then the children bring the finished product back into school to share with the class. 

Asking for family photos is the perfect way to begin building relationships with families because it helps them to see that you value them so much that you want to display their photos in your classroom. It also gives you a great opportunity to learn about the members of each family as you ask their names in order to discuss them with the class. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Beyond the family survey

As a teacher I was a huge fan of the family survey.  It helped me learn the answers to very specific questions about children and their families (who lives with you? Is your child afraid of anything? What are your child's favorite foods?).  As a parent, I just filled out one of these surveys for my daughter's class the other day, and when I was done it felt like I hadn't really given her teachers a lot of information. It certainly wasn't going to help them get to know her better, and at this age the answers change so regularly that they may not even be relevant in a month - how many preschoolers will tell you that their favorite food is hot dogs and then a week later they refuse to eat hot dogs ever again?!

Now that I've experienced this type of survey from the parents' point of view, I'd love to encourage you to try something a little different with your families.  Instead of giving parents a sheet full of questions and asking them to fill it out, why not hand them a blank piece of paper and ask each parent to write you a letter about their child.  They can tell you the things that they really want you to know; all of the things that they love about their child, what makes their child unique, the things that have surprised them, and the types of qualities they wish to encourage.  This is a wonderful opportunity to really get to know families and children through a completely different lens, and your families will probably surprise you with what they are willing to share in their letters. 

I even created a letter to send home when you introduce this idea to parents, you can download it for free HERE
I would love to hear your feedback if you try this with your families, please let me know how it goes!