Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How to Make Homemade Scratch Art Paper in 3 Easy Steps

Easy DIY Scratch Art Paper 

Scratch art paper is fun to use, but I think it might even be more fun to make! My kids gave this project two thumbs up.

Gather Materials for your Scratch Art Paper

  • card stock
  • crayons
  • black tempera paint
  • dish soap
  • paint brushes, foam brushes, or sponges   
  • bamboo skewers or wooden scratch sticks from a scratch art set

Start Coloring!

Cut the card stock in half or even quarters if you want the sheets to be more manageable. Use the crayons to color the entire page. It's particularly fun to use all the colors of the rainbow!

Scratch Art Paper Step 1: Color a good amount of the card stock!

Mix it Up

Use a 50/50 mixture of black tempera paint and dish detergent and paint over the colors (a foam brush works well).
Scratch Art Paper Step 2: Paint over your colors

Create Your Scratch Art Designs

After the paint has dried, it's time to scratch off the black layer! This is the fun part!

Pin this post to easily come back to it later!

DIY scratch art paper in 3 easy steps! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Save Money on Teachers pay Teachers with These 3 Tips

Make a Wish

What do you wish you had more of? If you are a teacher or homeschool parent, I'd be surprised if time or money isn't on your wish list. What if I told you there was a way to have more time for yourself without spending all your money?

Save Time with TpT

High-quality resources from Teachers pay Teachers don't just support your students, they support you. Take the time out of planning by using a resource we have already tested out and compiled for you! Use that extra time to do whatever your passion is or take some self-care time.

I Love TpT but my Wallet is Sad!

Maybe you already spent all your money on Flair Pens this month, or took one too many trips to the Target Dollar Spot (welcome to the club, by the way).

I'm guessing you are already aware of how much time teacher created resources can save you. The expenses can start to add up, though, particularly if you are in need of year-long bundles or are teaching multiple grades. Here's the good news: you can save some of that money! It's as easy as 1-2-3!

1. Follow Your Favorites

Follow on Social Media and on TpT

Make sure you are following your favorite stores on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you are aware of special discounts and sales. Other ways to keep tabs on your favorite teacher authors? Follow them on TpT (click on the green star or  "Follow" at the top of the store page) and subscribe to their newsletter! I love to send out surprise freebies to my subscribers. It's my favorite way to thank your for being an awesome follower and supporter.

2. Earn Free Credits by Leaving Feedback

Earn Free Credits by Leaving Feedback
Go grab a Benjamin right now and flush it down the toilet. Who am I kidding? Let's face it, you are probably fresh out of Benjamins. So grab a good old Lincoln and flush that instead.

If you aren't already doing this, it's the same thing as flushing poor Abe. After you make a purchase on TpT, go to "Buy" --> "My Purchases" and sort by "Needs Feedback." Click on "Provide Feedback" and then write a short statement about the resource. If you want to be really helpful, provide the grade level you used it for, the most useful part of the resource, and anything else you loved about it. Was it easy to use? Did your kids work independently and happily on the activity? Include that! We love to hear it and you will be helping out others who might be interested.

Have a problem with the resource or find an error? We want to hear about that too! To make sure the store owner reads that right away (and hopefully fixes any possible errors), click on Q&A and write a short note about any issue you might have. Unfortunately, we all make mistakes now and then, but I promise we are also willing to fix them!

3. Claim a Tax Deduction

Don't Throw Away Those Deductions!

Disclaimer: I am not an accountant. Please check with your own accountant to verify you can do this. Some of your educator expenses may be tax deductible! Here is a great article from TurboTax about how this might apply to you. Pro tip: save all your receipts! On TpT, it's easy to find and print your receipts. Go to "Account" --> "My Account" and then click on the Annual Purchase Statement.

Again, Those 3 Tips are:

  • Follow your favorite sellers
  • Use your credits
  • Take your tax benefits

Pin It! 

Share this on Pinterest or Facebook so your friends can save money, too!

SIX ways to shop smarter on Teachers pay Teachers - Follow these tips to keep more money in your pocket while shopping for high quality classroom resources! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Get 3 MORE Tips

Say what? Save even more by heading over to Brittany Washburn's post for tips 4-6!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

STEM Builds for Easter

Easter-themed STEM Builds!

Do you love building holiday-themed objects with your kids? You can build in 2D for younger kids, or 3D for kids who are expert builders. The little ones' imaginations and creativity never cease to amaze me. Here are some fun ideas to get started:
  • Animal Easter STEM  - rabbit, chick, or duck
  • Food Easter STEM - carrot, jelly bean, egg (think outside the box - do a whole egg, or for something different try a fried egg!)
  • Object Easter STEM - egg holder/cup, basket, jelly bean dispenser
If you are looking to make this a more educational activity, I have developed a set of STEM mats with design criteria.

Pin the image to save it for later:

Or, get the STEM Mats now:

What are STEM Mats? Watch the video to find out, and get a sample STEM mat to try it out.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What type of STEM challenge is right for you?

STEM challenge quiz!

Are you trying to figure out the right type of STEM challenge but are having trouble narrowing it down? Take this quiz to find out what STEM challenge you should try next:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Integrate Literacy and STEM Challenges with The Wild Robot

Imagine you are stranded on an island with no knowledge of how you got there, surrounded by strange animals, weather, and terrain. The unusual part of this book isn't necessarily the story, but the main character, Roz. Why? Roz is a robot! The Wild Robot by Peter Brown hooks readers from the very first page. Your kids will be begging you, "just one more chapter, please?" and you may end up reading it to them, as the chapters are short enough to get that fix. When I read this book to my kids, it came alive for all of us and made me realize how well it would work to develop some hands-on STEM activities. I hope that you are as excited to try them out as we were!

I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The link below is an Amazon affiliate link. You can read my full disclosure here.

Integrate STEM and literacy with these hands-on challenges for The Wild Robot! Your kids will feel like they are in the story as they follow Roz on her adventures. | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

If you haven't read this book yet, you will definitely want to borrow or get a copy ASAP. It is a survival-themed book with endearing characters, tons of action, and contains a wonderful marriage of nature and technology. I cannot imagine a better book to get kids excited about STEM!

As you read this book (or after you have finished), add in these hands-on STEM activities so your kids can really feel like they are in on the adventure, too.

Start with a Robot STEM Challenge

Can you build your very own Roz?
Roz is born on the shore of an island, thanks to some playful otters. Use simple materials such as paper or card stock, or go big with cardboard boxes and aluminum foil! Once your kids have built their own robot, they will feel an even greater involvement in her life and the obstacles she must overcome.

It isn't long before Roz is feeling left out. As you read the story, you will find out why the next two challenges make sense, but I'm not going to give away too many spoilers! Take my word for it that you'll want to try both of these STEM challenges as well:

Camouflage for Roz

It ends up being very important that Roz stumbles upon this idea. Can you help her blend into her surroundings? If you are reading this at home, ask your kids to decorate their robot to blend into your surroundings, maybe even using objects you find in nature.

Design and create a prosthetic limb for Roz:

Well, this one might not be too exciting at first. You will have to maim the robot you made in the first STEM challenge! I recommend cutting off the robot's foot, but your kids can choose to cut an arm instead, or perhaps another limb, depending on how they constructed their robot. There are several more challenges you can do throughout the story. It will become apparent as you read along - almost every time Roz has a problem to solve, you can work through a STEM challenge!

Novel STEM for The Wild Robot

For more supporting materials, I have created a full resource that guides you through the engineering design process to complete these challenges and more. In addition to the challenges listed above, there are engineering and science vocabulary cards, recording pages to work through the process, data testing sheets, discussion questions, and extension activities:

Do you have a favorite read aloud that you'd like to see paired with STEM challenges? Suggest one to me at - if I choose your idea I will send you the resource when it's finished as a thank you.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

QR Codes Make it Easy to Go Digital in Math Class

QR Codes in Math Class

One of the perils of keeping a cell phone in your back pocket is that IF you forget it's in there and make a quick run to the bathroom, you MAY find yourself doing what you NEVER thought you would do. Reaching into a toilet to save your precious? Maybe you've been lucky enough to never deal with this particular ring of hell. Maybe it was a just-cleaned toilet at home and no one was around to hear you scream, and not a public toilet that hasn't been cleaned in weeks, where your stall neighbor debates what is worse - your hygiene habits or the profanity spewing from your mouth. Maybe we should have a march against back pockets, because they are a danger to our livelihood in this day and age.

Keep the pencil and paper math, but kick it up a notch with QR codes for self-checking in your math class. Your kids will love the chance to use technology. | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Keep the pencil and paper math, but kick it up a notch with QR codes for self-checking in your math class. Your kids will love the chance to use technology. | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

What does this have to do with math?

Right. So maybe you don't need to let your kids use your cell phone to scan their QR codes because you have iPads for that. Phew, let's hope that's the case, because at least those don't fit in anyone's back pocket. I will be the first to admit my love of all things technology. I will also tell you that I have to do math on paper. I need to draw my picture and diagram and write and erase and cross things out and so on. I hope you and your kids do, too, and follow all the steps they need to solve their math problems.

Why do I need QR codes?

You don't need QR codes. Once you try them, though, and see how excited your kids are to work through math problems and check their answers, you will love having them. Task cards work well for this too - have one problem per task card, organizer them in coupon holders or plastic containers, and use them at your math centers so kids can work independently honing their math skills.

How do I use QR codes?

QR codes are easy. All you need is a reader to scan the code. There are dozens of free QR code readers to choose from. I love them so much that I included QR codes with these math task cards. When you scan the code, you will get the answer. It's a very fast and easy way to check, and even though kids get to use technology, they are not overusing it. They are still focusing the "meat" of their work elsewhere.

Other Ways to Use QR Codes in Math

Create a scavenger hunt! This is a favorite activity for kids. It will take some planning ahead and you will have to take the QR codes to the next level (not just scanning, but also creating them). You can do something as follows -
  • Start with a task, such as "Find 4 apples" (you will need to have four apple icons pinned up somewhere in the room, with a QR code nearby)
  • Then have the QR code there so that when they scan it, it will give the next clue (something like "Find 10 + 3 window clings" or "Find 19 - 11 erasers" - you can put the next clue in with your erasers or on the window).
  • You will need to create your own QR codes. I like using Kaywa (click more for text codes, which is what I stick with for kids).

Try Math QR Codes for FREE

This resource is for 3rd and 4th graders, but if you want to see how to use them, you can download it and try it out.

Fractions Task Cards with QR Codes

Here's a hint - you don't even need to print the cards to scan them! You can scan them right on a screen. That is like, DOUBLE the fun for kids, trust me. You aren't lazy for not printing the cards, you are an ENVIRONMENTALIST.

Remember to keep that phone out of your back pocket. Trust me, you don't want to go there. If you are going to insist, at least keep desiccant and/or dry rice on hand so you are prepared. Love QR codes and want to use them everywhere you can? Find additional ideas on using QR codes in the classroom here.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

10 Easy STEM Activities Your Kids Will Love

Top Simple STEM Challenges

It all started with a bag of cups and some tape. Blue painters tape can change your child's life, especially if they've been blessed with an imagination. Why not give that creative energy some direction? After you have gathered some basic materials, you are ready to start some simple STEM challenges!

Easy STEM Building challenges

Building challenges are easily accessible. You can use a variety of materials and get totally different results. Some fun ones to try:
  • books
  • cups
  • dice
  • sand
  • pipe cleaners
  • LEGOs
  • empty recyclable containers
  • deck of playing cards
Ask some questions to get your kids to explore the challenge more: What happens if the base is narrower than the top? Is this tower strong enough to support your weight? What about the weight of a small book or toy? Is there one spot on the structure you could touch or push and have the whole thing come crashing down? What happens if you mix the materials in the structure? Will it still work?

10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Explore Force & Motion with these STEM challenges

Experience gravity, drag, and friction with these fun STEM challenges. Start with a paper airplane. Learn the basics of making good folds and creases. Try out your design with some modifications. Questions to ask: What happens when you add weights like paper clips or pennies, cut flaps at the back of the wings and fold them up, or change the material (try it with small light paper or even big newspaper)? What is the longest distance or time you can make the airplane fly? Can you make it fly in a loop?

10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Use cardboard tubes or paper to create a marble run. Questions to ask: Can you make it take a specific amount of time for the marble to reach the bottom in a repeatable way? What happens as you change the angles of your tubes? Does the size of the marble change the speed at which it completes the run?

10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

What about a car ramp for a toy car? Can you make it so the car stops when it gets to the bottom? What happens if you add a jump into the ramp? Will the car land on its wheels or flip?
 10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Use hard boiled or plastic eggs and design a container that protects them. Can you drop it from the seat of a chair and keep it safe? What about if you drop it from a table, a high shelf, or even off a second story? What are some ways of protecting the egg?

How far apart can you place the dominoes and have your domino chain reaction work? What if the dominoes are of a different size? Will they still fall over?

Get creative with STEM and STEAM

Sometimes it's fun to get outside and get messy! Make a simple bubble solution with water, dish detergent, and corn syrup (a lot of water, much less dish soap, even less corn syrup - the amounts vary in recipes I've found but if you fill a pitcher most of the way with water, put in about a half cup of dish soap, and about an eighth of a cup of corn syrup it works pretty well. These proportions are less than what I have found online but if it isn't working for you just up the dish soap or corn syrup). Use pipe cleaners or straws and try to make a bubble wand! Questions to ask: can you make a bubble into a shape other than a sphere? What's the biggest bubble you can create?

10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

For rainy days or when you just want to go digital, head to your favorite drawing program. Try to create symmetry art or a fun word cloud with your favorite science words!

10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

If you are looking to go deeper into STEM exploration, I have a set of 10 challenges that include more details about the set up, as well as key engineering vocabulary terms and graphic organizers to record the process. You can can an idea of what they are like at my guest post on Minds in Bloom - there is even a graphic organizer you can download and print to get you started!

What are your favorite easy STEM activities? Want to save these ideas for later? Pin them with this graphic:
10 easy STEM activities your kids will love! Simple materials, fast set up, big on fun! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer