Happy MARCH 2021 friends! I have another freebie for you today, it’s time for my monthly printable calendars! Download the March 2021 FREE Printable Calendars here and add a little fun into your homeschool day.
For kiddos who need more handwriting and number writing practice, I’ve created a traceable version where they can practice number formation and counting.
I’ve also created one with numbers already printed for students not ready for handwriting, or for students who already know how to write numbers well.
To use the traceable calendar: Have students use a marker or pencil to trace each number, then have student count up to today’s number.
To use the dot calendar: Have students a bingo dabber or small stickers to mark each day as it passes. Have students start back at one and count up to today’s number for counting practice. If they’re ready you might also encourage them to count only odd or even numbers.
Alternate advanced ideas:
Have students create a pattern as they write/mark their dates!
For example write odd numbers in red and even numbers in blue (ABA pattern). For more advanced patterns, use multiple colors to create more patterns.
You can also use stickers to create patterns, for example on day 1 put a star sticker, day 2 a smiley face, day 3 a star, and so on. See below for more pattern ideas.
Here are a few patterns you can encourage your kiddos to use when working with daily calendars:
There are lots of ways to create patterns, so feel free to get creative with your calendars!
Weather: I’ve also included a small weather graph at the bottom of the monthly calendar as well. Have students either color one square or put an “x” in one square for the appropriate weather each day. At the end of the month compare each weather type to see which type of weather was most/least common.
–>> Download the March 2021 Printable Calendar pages here!
Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you enjoy these monthly calendars and that they make your homeschool days a little more fun and engaging!
Written by LeAnne Varenkamp of Dream Dinners – The Original Meal Kit Company
Yesterday, was one of those days. Laundry on the couch for the second (or third…) day, a sick toddler, trying to help with high school algebra… Add in the ongoing effects of the seemingly never-ending pandemic, and I pretty much felt like I wasn’t getting anything accomplished! Then, I snapped at my fourth grader. I was feeling “mom guilt” all the way.
So I needed to stop, take a breath, and remind myself about what’s important. As a homeschool mom with eight kids, I believe it is more important to be a parent and to connect with my children rather than get everything on my to-do list done.
Our job is to guide our children on their journey to becoming adults and to teach them how to navigate life when it doesn’t go as expected. We don’t get to choose our circumstances, but we do choose how to manage them.
Right now, we may see our kids all day long, yet we still need to pause and connect as a family, remembering who we are as a family unit. The family dinner is the perfect place to do that. There is something special about sharing a meal. It’s where everyone belongs and participates. It’s where we find joy.
Getting the family together at the same time and getting a meal on the table can be challenging in the best of times, let alone right now. As the owner of a Dream Dinners meal kit franchise, I’ve learned a great deal over the years about the importance of family meals. I’ve also picked up a lot of tips on how to make meals easier and more enjoyable to prepare.
Homeschooling is all about teaching children to run on their own batteries. Too often, moms try to do it all when we should be teaching kids how to be self-sufficient and how to contribute to family life. Involving them in dinner, from planning through clean-up, is a wonderful way to accomplish this. It also creates opportunities for older children to grow by guiding younger siblings through the meal preparation process.
Perhaps even more important is the role dinner plays in building up each family member and helping each one find a place of belonging and security, especially during such a difficult time.
I strongly recommend The Hour that Matters Most: The Surprising Power of the Family Meal, co-authored by my dear friend Tina Kuna, who founded Dream Dinners with Stephanie Allen. It’s available here on Amazon.
Stay well and bon appétit!
Hi, I’m LeAnne Varenkamp! I’m married to my kindergarten sweetheart, and I am mom to eight awesome kids. I also work outside the home for a great company whose mission is to help families gather around the dinner table. As a family, we have a heart for community and serving others, and we are always on the lookout for ways to encourage people to thrive. Right now, our homeschooling adventure includes restoring our 100+ year old farmhouse. For more information about Dream Dinners, please visit my website.
When my daughter finds a topic she loves she latches on like a dog to a bone. She wants more and can’t seem to get enough. Maybe you can relate? This is where unit studies come in.
Unit studies are the perfect way to engage an intense kiddo.
When we began homeschooling I tried to rush through her interests to get back to my homeschool plans. I never stopped to realize the damage I was doing by squashing her curiosity. I slowly saw her love for learning fading a little more each day.
One day, that little girl looked at me with so much passion in her eyes I thought they would burst and said, “Mom, wouldn’t it be fun to do school with Jack and Annie?”. Jack and Annie are characters from the Magic Tree House book series. They were her favorite books and had become friends to her through their stories.
I immediately dismissed her like I always do. But later I started thinking about the passionate look in her eyes and how quickly it faded upon my dismissal. So, I did what any mom would do. I reread all of the books and wrote out a plan. A plan that would allow us to study the Magic Tree House books as unit studies.
I will never forget the joy she had when I told her that for first grade we would be doing Jack and Annie school. I had reignited her love for learning.
The following school year we did nothing but unit studies. We studied things like dinosaurs, medieval times, Ancient Egypt, pirates, and more. I could have never planned the rabbit trails we went down or the immense learning that took place. It was at that moment that I realized unit studies were the perfect way to homeschool her.
In the years that followed unit studies became our main form of learning. Unit studies focus on topics or themes my daughter is truly interested in. That way, she is more likely to remember the things she learns. It’s also a great way to satisfy her desire to know all the things on a specific topic.
This has made such a significant difference in her learning. It really is an ideal way to support a gifted learner.
So, what does this really look like in our day to day homeschooling?
My first step is always a plan. Some of them are much more involved than others, but my unit study plans usually follow the same basic process.
I think it’s really important to focus on my child’s interests if at all possible. However, I think you can also pick something relevant such as a field trip you know you have coming up or maybe a holiday.
Collect all the things you already have that match the topic or theme of your study. I usually walk around my house searching for applicable resources such as books, games, hands-on activities, and manipulatives.
Search all of your streaming services (Curiosity Stream, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+) for documentaries that would compliment the topic you are studying about. Make a YouTube playlist. And look in the app store for a new app too.
I like to place all of my unit study materials in a basket or bin and let my daughter pick and choose. I mean it is her education she should have some say in it. And because I am the one gathering the material I know it is all appropriate.
I know chances are we won’t get to everything I have planned for us to do. But, that’s okay! We just work through the materials answering all of her questions and diving in as deep as she wants. When she is ready to move on, we do.
Unit studies help an intense child love learning. Especially if you choose a topic they are interested in. It is like saying that you hear them and value their opinions and interests. You are helping them learn about things they love and in return they develop a love for learning in general.
The frustration that came when I tried to force my plans was ruining our relationship. Many times our homeschool days ended in tears. Since incorporating unit studies as our main method of homeschooling the tears happen less frequently. That has allowed our relationship to flourish. Our relationship has taken such a big turn that she now knows she can say “Hey Mom, let’s spend a year at Hogwarts” and I will totally oblige!
Isn’t Jessica an absolute natural in creating this type of learning? We have been using her unit studies off and on over the years and I am constantly amazed at what she comes up with and the professionalism of her products.
She is a true friend in writing this for me here at Raising Lifelong Learners, but I also want to make sure you know that she is THE SOURCE for beautiful engaging unit studies on her own site, The Waldock Way.
Jessica Waldock is a writer, photographer, and homeschool mom of one living in sunny Florida. She founded The Waldock Way as a way to give back to the homeschool community that she loves so much. At The Waldock Way Jessica shares tips, tricks, inspiration, and unique resources that help ignite a love of learning in children that will last a lifetime. She inspires families to engage in homeschooling as a lifestyle where relationships come first and interested led learning prevails. Jessica also has a fabulous collection of unit studies on her website and shares generously on her YouTube channel.
You can find Jessica and The Waldock Way online at all the following sites:
Take a look at all she has to offer. I know you will be as impressed as I am! ~ Colleen
An EdWeek Market Brief survey asked district officials what kinds of strategies they anticipate using to take on student academic losses during the pandemic — the so-called “COVID slide.”
Many school systems applying for E-rate funding this year are focused on a new set of needs, and their shifting priorities have implications for ed-tech companies.
Admit it, you’ve thought about it. You see your precious little one handling blocks with expert dexterity. Your heart swells as they garble through their ABCs. Your pride and joy is walking already or handles math problems with ease and you wonder, Could my child be gifted?
There is a growing community of support for the families of gifted children, but still a lot of murky information about how to actually tell if your child is gifted. I remember when my oldest was still a toddler, I was reading a popular parenting magazine and came across a one-page article discussing giftedness in children. Intrigued and convinced that my precious firstborn was obviously a genius, I began comparing him to the checklist they provided… and promptly discovered that he didn’t match a single criteria. Oh well, I thought. I wouldn’t know what to do with a genius. He’s fine how he is.
Years later, surprise! Not only is he gifted, but so is his brother… and his sister. It took a teacher telling us that they were likely gifted – and multiple test results – to convince me. As we began to learn more about what it meant to be gifted, hindsight became more and more clear. The signs were always there, I’d just been wholly misinformed as to what they were!
Here you’ll find 100 real-life and classic hints that your child may be gifted. Since gifted kids are as unique from one another as they are from the general population, not every one of these will be true for every gifted child, and there will definitely be anecdotes experienced by gifted families that aren’t mentioned here. But in general, you may very well have a gifted child on your hands if:
You may notice that among the 100 traits listed above, not once were grades mentioned as an indicator of giftedness. Being a gifted child is not all about straight-A’s and perfect test scores, it’s a neurological difference that affects many, many areas of their lives and really turns up the intensity knob.
Sure, many gifted kids have impressive report cards, but they also have struggles, fears, and unique experiences that set them apart from the crowd.
No question, It is a unique set of complex circumstances that creates a unique family dynamic and educational challenges.
But please know, you are not alone in it.
The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family. It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.
All from the comfort of your own home.
This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We address topics just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them cope and you learn how to help them along the way.
The Biden administration’s recent guidance for how states should carry out federally mandated tests is likely to have implications for the testing industry, potentially affecting everything from the work required to design the exams to scheduling them to companies’ bottom lines.
In a letter to states, the U.S. Department of Education this week informed states that they won’t be allowed to cancel federally mandated standardized exams this school year — unlike last spring, when they were given the right to shelve end-of-year exams.
But the agency gave states the right to propose shortened versions of state exams in English/language arts, math, and science, and is allowing them to delay the assessments, potentially even until next school year.
Typically, test scoring is done over a three-week time period, but a longer testing window increases the chances that the process becomes less efficient, which could raise test providers’ costs, said Barry Topol, managing partner of Assessment Solutions Group. His organization provides assessment cost, management and state accountability systems analysis and consulting to states and other entities.
“The big costs of scoring are the variable costs of monitoring those [test] raters and readers, and training them and having them score,” he said in an interview with EdWeek Market Brief.
Though the department’s letter to states said it won’t invite state requests for blanket waivers of assessments akin to the broad waivers issued by the department last spring, the agency did say it will allow states to seek waivers from federal requirements for school accountability, which would include a waiver from the requirement that states test 95 percent of eligible students, as my Education Week colleagues reported Monday.
And despite the department’s decision to not invite applications for broad assessment waivers, states could still seek them.
For instance, Pennsylvania state lawmakers on Wednesday asked the Biden administration to waive assessment requirements this year because of the pandemic.
If states take advantage of the administration’s permission to delay this year’s assessments, that could increase logistical and hiring costs for assessment providers.
Asked whether longer testing windows would make it more difficult to efficiently hire test scorers for this cycle, Cambium Assessment President Steve Kromer said the scenario is one that the company can adapt to meet. Scorers are generally receptive, he said, to offers to extend their contracts if necessary.
Cambium Assessment currently has 27 different contracts with states for summative types of assessments, and provides mostly computer-based tests, he said.
As there were last year, there could be contract renegotiations between Cambium and its customers as these states explore the possibilities of delaying or modifying aspects of this year’s tests, Kromer said.
“We would need to understand what the impact of a change would be, in terms of how we adjust our capacity based on our anticipated volumes of helpdesk calls and volumes of computer-based tests,” Kromer said. “We’re going to — as any business — look at adjustments to our capacity.”
If assessment providers are administering tests remotely, an extended test window could place additional cost burdens by requiring extensions of leases for test facilities and computers, Topol said.
On the other hand, if states desire shorter assessments, it could challenge companies to quickly compress the length of these exams while still ensuring the tests are still robust, Topol said.
“One way to do it would be to eliminate those constructed response items, but then you’ve got some issues with are you providing adequate content coverage?” he said. “The later in the school year… that you do that, the faster the vendors have to respond, the more expensive it is, and the more you introduce more chances for human error somewhere in the process.”
Cambium Assessment’s revenue took a hit when standardized tests were canceled last year. The company could sustain some revenue impacts this cycle as well, potentially associated with longer testing windows and modifying test structures, Kromer said.
But other costs could fall, Kromer said.
“You may not have to pay the cost to have [physical test books] taken to one of the states and have all those test books delivered and pick them back up,” he said. “There are costs that would go away.”
A number of governors have called for boosting education spending for the coming year’s budget, betting that the economy will lift their states’ revenues. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed an ambitious increase of his own, one that hinges not on economic conditions, but rather an overhaul of how the state funds schools.
The second-term Democrat says his plan would result in $1.3 billion more in aid flowing to K-12 schools across the state, through a combination of tax increases and a reworking of Pennsylvania’s school finance system.
Even strong supporters of the plan, however, say it faces tough odds in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, at least in its current form.
The core of Wolf’s proposal is a change to the method through which Pennsylvania funds schools. The state currently has a funding formula that was designed, in theory, to support underfunded districts. But only a small portion of the overall money flowing to K-12 systems, about 11 percent — by the governor’s estimate — goes through the formula, and the remainder is allocated separately, through a method that school officials say is tethered to antiquated school enrollment counts.
Wolf’s proposal would route all of the state’s basic education funding, which now stands at $6.2 billion per year, plus an additional $200 million he’s proposed for next year, through the funding formula.
The governor says the existing funding approach has punished tax-poor school systems and does not allow most of them to account for changes in enrollment and other costs that have spiraled over time. He has vowed that “no school will lose a single dollar” in state resource as a result of the change.
But it would require new revenue, and Wolf is calling for an increase in the personal income tax from 3.09 percent to 4.49 percent. It would shift the tax burden away from lower-income earners and increase them on those with higher pay, by adjusting exemptions.
“Pennsylvania’s school funding system is unfair to students, teachers and communities,” Wolf said in a statement. “The state still largely funds schools based on student enrollment from 30 years ago, which underfunds growing districts from our small towns to our big cities. My common sense plan restores fairness to school funding to ensure every community can provide the quality education students need to succeed in life.”
GOP legislators, however, appear to be lining up in opposition to Wolf’s plan, arguing that it will hurt businesses and a state economy attempting to recover from the pain of COVID.
“The pandemic hit Main Street. More than anyone else they had to deal with the governor’s draconian shutdowns and now he wants to put more burden on them the largest tax increase in Pennsylvania history,” said Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, according to the Tribune-Review.
“The mom-and-pop stores will bear the brunt of this proposal,” Corman said. “Small employers and middle-class families are what drive economic recoveries. Governor Wolf has put yet another target on their backs.”
Mark DiRocco, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, said he did not expect Wolf’s proposal to make it across the finish line in its existing approach, despite Republican opposition.
“This has been an historic ask, and we don’t know where it’s going to go,” DiRocco said.
But many of his organization’s members – mostly top K-12 district administrators – are convinced that a change in the funding system is long overdue. Many districts across the state struggle to keep up amid a raft of costs that rise, year after year – in serving populations such as special needs students and English-language learners, and in shifting enrollment. The current funding scheme, he said, does little to help.
Emergency federal aid to schools, the latest round of which was signed into law by former President Donald Trump in late December, has bolstered Pennsylvania’s districts, and so would additional aid proposed by President Joe Biden if it comes through, he said.
But much of that aid has supported one-time purchases, such as COVID-related safety equipment and laptops. Changing the funding formula would get at districts’ underlying, core expenses, particularly around paying for personnel, said DiRocco. His organization’s 900 members say they have a particular need for mental health specialists, such as school psychologists and counselors, as well as staff who can address learning loss.
Wolf’s plan “starts the conversation,” he said, “and most of our members want to be part of that conversation.”
Photo: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf at a news conference in November, by AP Photo/Julio Cortez.
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