Back To School Show and Tell Ideas

October 1, 2008

One thing you can count on during the first days of school is the inevitable question of “What did you do over the summer?” Here are a few creative ways to describe your summer experiences for the first edition of Show and Tell.

1. Flip Books

Create a moving picture of your summer fun with a flip book. Start out with a Post-It pad or a pocket-sized spiral notebook. Draw the first picture on the last sheet of paper and work your way to the first page by changing the picture little by little. For instance, if you learned how to surf over the summer, you might start with a picture of you lying on a surfboard in calm waters. The next picture could show the waters growing a little choppier. The following drawings could be of you slowly turning, then standing on the board as the wave grows larger, and so on.

2. Summer Collage

Illustrate your summer happenings with one of my favorite forms: collages. Simply use glue to cover a poster board or even several small postcard-sized papers with magazine cutouts, sections of road maps, photographs, movie and concert ticket stubs, restaurant menus, train schedules, and any other mementos from your summer.

3. Map It

Instead of just telling the class where you went and what you did, pinpoint our summer destinations and activities on a map. If you stayed close to home, use a local road map. If you were able to travel to several cities and states, use a countrywide map. Glue magazine cutouts of activities, or actual photos of your fun onto the map. For example, if you went to a dude ranch in Dallas, glue a picture of a horse onto the map in Dallas. If you visited Mount Rushmore, glue a photo of your family onto the map in South Dakota. The same goes for rock climbing, swimming, snorkeling, and anything else you had a chance to enjoy over the summer months.

4. Seashell Memories

Capture every fun moment of summer vacation on seashells. If you didn’t get a chance to go to the beach, don’t worry-most craft and hobby stores sell bags of seashells. Use acrylic paint and a clean paintbrush to paint pictures inside the shells. My son’s summer shells feature an octopus in the ocean (from snorkeling-we didn’t actually see an octopus, but he wishes he had), a colorful clown from a friend’s birthday party, an airplane in the clouds, and the night sky filled with stars and a bright crescent moon.
Deborah Shelton is a mother, freelance writer, and author of “The Five Minute Parent: Fun & Fast Activities for You and Your Little Ones.” Visit Deborah’s website for more family-friendly ideas:

Additional Resource:

Not sure what to read to your child? Take a look at our Book Reviews in our new Product Review Section.

Here are reviews of some of our favorites for preschoolers and beyond.

Highlights for Children Magazine

Potty Training Tips
Potty Training Advice and Tips From Moms & Dads Like You.

School Days – Top 10 Tips for Establishing a Good Routine

October 1, 2008

By Lindsay Small

Teachers know that children thrive in an environment with routines, boundaries and rules. Unfortunately, parents often forget it! And yet by establishing good routines and encouraging children to help you maintain them, you have an opportunity to set a pattern and a discipline that will stay with your children for the rest of their lives. You will make school days easier and far less stressful, reduce the chances of starting your day late or dragging on forever with the homework, put an end to nagging and shouting, and have happier, more relaxed kids.

Here are 10 tips for establishing a solid, school day routine.

1. Lay the breakfast table the night before

Put everything out apart from perishables. If you keep all your breakfast things in one cupboard or one area of the kitchen this routine will be easier to establish, and older children can take it in turns to do it.

2. Put out your clothes the night before

Lay out a complete set of clothes for each child, checking them as you do it. Older children should do this themselves – you can double check when you say goodnight. Then if something is missing (or shoes need polishing) you have time to put it right. Lay your own clothes out too!

3. Brush teeth at the kitchen sink

Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste for each child in the kitchen and brush teeth at the kitchen sink immediately after breakfast. It may not be perfect for the house-proud, but if you send your child out of your sight to do a chore in the morning, you lose control. If you lose control, he may start dawdling.

4. Set up base camp

Establish a “base camp” where the children keep all their school things. You will need room for kit bags, satchels, swimming bags, sports equipment, ballet bags, library books and whatever else the kids need! Provide at least one hook per child for their coats (in our house kids must hang coats up as soon as they take them off) and a basket or box for school shoes (in our house kids must put shoes in the box as soon as they take them off too – sometimes they do!)

Another basket or box for each child can be used as a place to put anything that needs to go to school – gloves, letters to teachers, music, library books etc. Everything is in its place and ready to go out the door first thing in the morning without any fuss.

5. Make a list

Fill out a schedule of what is needed at school on each day and pin it up at “base camp”. Check each morning before you walk out the door that you have the appropriate kit. You will find a school week planner to print here:

6. Nail up a notice board

Keep a notice board at “base camp” so that you can pin up reminders, invitations, school menus or whatever else you need to keep tabs on.

7. Do it now!

If anything comes home from school that requires your attention, do it immediately. Fill out forms and put them straight back into the satchel. Write dates into your diary there and then, and reply the same day too. If you postpone it, you will forget it!

8. Give homework a home

Establish a place and time for doing homework and stick to it. Keep dictionaries and other necessary books nearby, as well as a spare set of pencils, rulers and other stationery you might need. Make sure that homework is put back into satchels as soon as it is completed and that satchels are returned to “base camp” straightaway. Get out a kitchen timer if kids are reluctant to start (or finish!)

9. Be prepared

If your car is running short of petrol (gas), fill it up on the way home from school in the afternoon rather than panicking the following morning! As you drive home, run a mental check on whether you have the necessary supplies for dinner, and breakfast. Nothing makes kids more miserable in the morning than an empty fridge.

10. Get ahead

Set your alarm to wake you up 10 minutes earlier than usual. You will be amazed at how much more in control that 10 minutes will make you feel. And finally, leave for school 5 minutes early. Arriving early takes away an enormous amount of stress and will put your children in the right mood for school.

Are you convinced? Start initiating some routines in your school days and you and your kids will feel the benefits very quickly. Making sure that your kids feel comfortable and in control before they get to school gives them the best possible start to a school day. And once they get used to afternoon and evening routines for homework and preparation for the day ahead, nighttimes become more peaceful too.

“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”
–John Dryden

Lindsay Small is the creator and editor of Activity Village – providing the ultimate one-stop resource for parents and teachers looking to educate and entertain their kids. Visit the website at and subscribe to the free newsletter at

School Bus Safety Tips

October 1, 2008

By Matthew Keegan

Beginning in early August and all the way through much of September, schools throughout the country begin welcoming students back from their summer hiatus. Whether you are a parent, child, school administrator, driver, or a concerned citizen, the following tips will help keep our nation’s students safe.

1. Bus Stop. Your child’s bus stop should be in an area that is well lit, easily accessible, and away from traffic. If it is not, contact school administrators to have the stop moved. In some situations you may need to contact the school board instead. If you live in an area where there is heavy snowfall, make sure that the stop is sufficiently free of snow, ice, and related debris.

2. Clothing. Children should be wearing bright colored clothing, especially if waiting for the bus before sunrise or getting home after dark. Place removable reflective tape on their outer garments including on their hats and coats.

3. Boarding. Teach your children to only move forward to board the school bus when it has come to a complete stop and the driver opens the door. Children should line up single file as they await entrance.

4. Seating. Virtually all school buses DO NOT come equipped with seatbelts, nor are seats strong enough to resist impact in the event of a crash. Teach your children to be seated at all times and facing forward. Study various brace positions to prepare for the possibility of an accident. Learn optional exit strategies including using the emergency door or windows.

5. Exiting. When exiting the bus, children must move far away from the vehicle to allow the driver to see that they have cleared the bus and are safely away from traffic. Instruct your children to stay away from the bus’ rear wheels at all times.

6. Awareness. Teach your children to be aware of other traffic in the area. Do not assume that drivers will stop for them or even see them. If children must cross the street, they are to do so only with the driver directing them. Have them constantly looking both ways as they cross the street until they are safely on the other side.

Every year children die or are injured in school bus related accidents. Many die as a result of a collision involving their bus with another vehicle while others are killed or hurt as they fail to clear the area around the bus or are hit by oncoming traffic.

You can keep your child safe by raising their awareness of potential hazards while the rest of us can make school bus safety a priority by obeying the rules of the road. Let’s make this school year a safe one.

Matt Keegan manages over a dozen websites including The Aviation Employment Board and PJ the DJ.

Article Source:

Our School Bus Craft gives you a great opportunity to practice getting on and off the bus with your child.

« Previous PageNext Page »