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Using computers in schools

Nowadays every school has to have computers. I don’t refer to legal requirement but to perception. Schools are judged on how many computers they have. It would be more to the point if they were judged on their computer-savvy.
I’m a fan of computers; my computer is a vital part of my work. I believe computer literacy is as important for our children to acquire as any other “basic skill”. But I’m not a fan of the wholesale introduction of computers into our schools, particularly the junior ones. How many computers a school has is not the issue – the issue is, how do they use them?
In many cases, the answer is: poorly.
The reasons are simple enough. Foremost, the teachers have insufficient training and experience with computers. Relatedly, computers are not yet an integrated part of the school curriculum, and every school and teacher re-invents the wheel, trying to find good software, trying to work out how to fit it into the classroom curriculum, trying to work out schedules to make sure every student gets a fair go, struggling with the lack of technical support. And of course, in many cases (perhaps most), the computers are old, with the associated problems of being more likely to have technical problems, being slow, limited in memory, incompatible with current software, and so on.
The most important problems schools have with computers:
lack of financial resources (to buy enough computers, up-to-date computers, enough printers and other peripherals, licenses for good software, technical support)
the inability of teachers to know how to use the computers effectively
difficulty in integrating computers into the school / classroom curriculum (problems of use, of scheduling, of time)
Using computers effectively is much more than simply being able to type an essay or produce a graph. Parents and educators who deplore the obsession with computers in schools see computers as eroding children’s basic skills and knowledge, because they only see computers being used as copy-and-paste and making-it-pretty devices. But computers have potential far beyond that.
Computers can be used to help:
extend the scope of searches
retrieve precisely targeted data with greater speed and accuracy
increase the amount of data held ready for use
sift relevant data from irrelevant
turn data into information
The true value of a computer isn’t seen until the user can use it not only as a presentation tool (for making work attractive), and as a productivity tool (for producing work more quickly, effectively, thoroughly), but also as a cognitive tool.
Using computers as cognitive tools
A cognitive tool helps you think.
Many people thought computers would revolutionize education by providing individual instruction in the form of tutorials. In particular, as a means of drilling students. Drilling can be helpful to overlearn a skill to achieve automaticity, but it doesn’t help transfer to meaningful problems. That is, you can learn a skill, you can rote-learn facts, but drilling doesn’t help meaningful learning – it doesn’t teach understanding.
Although computer tutorials have become somewhat more sophisticated, they still only present a single interpretation of the world – they don’t allow students to find their own meaning. They don’t teach students to reflect on and analyze their own performance.
“I do not believe that students learn from computers or teachers — which has been a traditional assumption of most schooling. Rather, students learn from thinking in meaningful ways. Thinking is engaged by activities, which can be fostered by computers or teachers.” (Jonassen, p4)
So, the computer itself isn’t the issue – the issue, as always, is what you do with it. For example, when the Web is simply used as a source of material that can be downloaded and pasted without thought, then no, it is not of value. But when the learner searches the Web, evaluates the information, finds the gold in the dross, uses that to construct a knowledge base, to develop meaning, then yes, it is a valuable resource.
Computers can support meaningful learning by
reducing time spent on mechanical tasks such as rewriting, producing graphs, etc
helping find information
helping organize information
making it easier to share information and ideas with others





Buying Cloths Without Destroying Your Budget


At our house, I’m the lucky one. I work from home so it doesn’t really matter too much what I wear most days, so I dress for comfort. Almost every day, you’ll find me in blue jeans and a t-shirt. I have some nicer clothes for social occasions and presentations, but those mostly just stay in the closet and are rarely worn.
The rest of my family… is a different story. My wife works outside the home and has to dress professionally every day. My children are all in school and while they’re not too picky about clothes, they do have some preferences and we want them to attend school in well-made and properly fitting clothes items.
With five of us, clothes shopping could easily be an item that busts our budget, so over the years we’ve had to adopt some strategies for saving money. I’ve mentioned a few of them before – in fact, the first few items might seem familiar to long-time readers – but most of our strategies have really developed and matured over the last few years as our children have grown older.
Here are eight key tactics we use for minimizing our clothing budget while still dressing well.
Start at Low-End Retailers
Almost always, our clothes shopping starts at thrift stores, consignment shops, yard sales, and the like. There’s a simple reason for that – people with more money than sense tend to basically give away much of their stuff unused or barely used, so why not take advantage of it?
Sure, you might browse through a thrift store and find absolutely nothing that works for you. So what? You spent fifteen or twenty minutes searching for a bargain and came up empty. Move on.
However, if you find even one or two items that work for your family’s needs at a thrift store or a consignment shop or a yard sale and save 75% or more off of the original cost of the item, then the stop was well worth it.
Buy Quality Clothing Items
Unless it’s practically free, you’re better off buying clothing items from good brands with a reputation for well-made items. If you give me the choice between a $10 shirt that’s falling apart after or a $100 shirt that still looks good after fifty washings, I’ll take the $100 shirt any day of the week.
So, how do you identify well-made items? Some people have better eyes for this than others, and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the sharpest eye for clothing. Still, there are a few things that I know how to do when examining any clothing item.
The first strategy I use is to glance at the seams. The seams of a well-made clothing item versus a cheaply-made one tell the difference – the stitching is far better in the well-made item, meaning the item will hold together for much longer. There aren’t strings dangling off and it doesn’t look like you could easily rip it apart with a tug. The seams on a good quality item are usually perfectly straight, too, and any patterns should match up well at the seams. Also, keep an eye on the material. Try to stick to natural fibers and blends that last a long time, like wool, and avoid synthetics like polyester. The tag will tell you this information.
You can apply these tests anywhere, from the small consignment shop on the corner to the highest-end clothing store you’ve ever set foot in. Simple tests like these will point you toward items that last and away from items that will be disastrous.
I’m a rather tall guy, and even I’ve found some amazing stuff in thrift stores and consignment stores. Land’s End sweaters that fit me for $8? Yes, please. At one local thrift store, I found three practically new Todd Shelton shirts for $10 that immediately became staples of my dress shirt rotation – these normally sell for well over $100. Items like these are well-made – you can tell from the seams and the material – and have lasted me for many years.
Practice Appropriate Clothes Care
It’s not rocket science. Wash whites with whites. Wash similar colors together. Follow the directions on the tag and, if there are no directions, find out how to wash that kind of garment online.
The problem is that it’s really easy to skip this when you’ve got a family of five that seems to blow through clothes like there’s no tomorrow. We can easily generate four or five loads of laundry per week at our house if we’re not careful about it.
Thus, the key to practicing appropriate clothes care is to have a good system in place for all the clothes and knowing exactly how to best care for the different types of clothes.
In terms of maximizing the life of your clothes, a few clothing care strategies work really well. Try to avoid using your dryer for anything but socks and underwear and use a clothesline for your other items (that lint in your lint trap is the residue from your clothes falling apart under the rigor of the tumble dryer). Use a front-loading washer as it’s gentler on clothes. Don’t wash jeans and other sturdy garments every time – instead, wash them when they’re actually dirty. All of these tips will greatly extend the life of your clothes.
Approach Baby and Toddler Clothes Differently
Almost all of the tips described above go out the window when you’re considering baby clothes. Why? Babies grow so quickly that they only need their clothes to last for a few months before they’re on to the next size. This pretty much holds true until they’re roughly two years old.
Prior to that, the best way to save money on baby clothes is to buy them cheap. You don’t need to worry about ensuring a long life for an outfit for your three month old because they’ll likely only wear it a few times before they outgrow it.
Utilize Hand-Me-Downs
When the kids get older, the rules change quite a bit. In fact, if you have multiple children, it is really worthwhile to get sturdy well-made clothes for the oldest child because those items can easily be handed down from child to child.
The majority of our youngest child’s wardrobe is made up of the better items from his older brother’s wardrobe from a few years ago. The cheap items? They didn’t make the cut because they were simply worn out. Kids can be really tough on clothes.
So, once your oldest child escapes toddlerdom and aren’t outgrowing their clothes every few months, look to the future. Are you going to have more children? Are those children already present? If they are, take extra care in looking for sturdy clothing for your oldest child. You’re far better off spending twice as much on a t-shirt with good stitching compared to one that’s not well made because the well-made shirt will likely stick around for the younger brother or sister… and maybe even the younger sibling after that. The poorly made t-shirt will likely hit the rag bag.
Along those same lines, if you do have a well-made item of clothing, don’t ever be afraid to hand it down. As long as it still looks good, it’s essentially free clothing for your younger child.
Buy for Opposite Seasons
We buy most of our summer clothes in early fall. We buy most of our winter clothes in early spring.
The reason’s pretty obvious. In early fall, retailers are getting rid of their summer stuff and there’s often a ton of sales with incredible markdowns on pretty high quality garments. The same thing is true with winter items in early spring and for spring and fall items at the end of those seasons.
In fact, it’s only during those opposite season purchases where we find new quality clothes that match the prices of the better consignment shop items.
Use Clothes Sales, But Don’t Fetishize Them
One healthy approach for keeping your clothing spending in check is to limit the size of your wardrobe. Keep only a certain number of each clothing category, then agree to only add new ones when old ones need replaced.
For example, I have eight long sleeved dress shirts, eight short sleeved dress shirts, some number of t-shirts (I haven’t bought any in years, so I’m not sure of the numbers), eight pairs of blue jeans, and six pairs of dress pants. That makes up most of my wardrobe. If an item wears out, I replace it.
This leads into clothes sales. The best way to use a clothing sale is to fill a slot in your wardrobe to replace an item that’s on the way out. That way, you have some time to look at a number of clothes sales and patiently wait for one on items that you actually want – as well as give yourself plenty of time to check thrift and consignment shops when it’s convenient – before actually taking the plunge.
Buy Current Sizes, Not “Goal” Sizes
Sometimes people are tempted to buy clothing that’s a bit smaller than their current size and use it as some sort of motivator to get in better shape. I highly recommend avoiding this strategy, particularly on sale items or anything that can’t easily be returned. (Obviously, this doesn’t apply if the store you’re buying from has an incredible return policy.)
Focus your clothing dollars on items that are useful, not aspirational. It’s not an effective use of your money to buy something that has a significant likelihood of not being worn. The motivation for true weight loss comes from an internal motivator – something you want to change in your life – not an external one, so investing money in an external one will usually not pay off. Keep your money in your pocket and seek out other motivations.
Not only that, if you actually need to return a new item because it doesn’t fit well, it’s going to feel a lot better returning something that’s too big than returning something that’s too small.
Final Thoughts
Most of these tactics are common sense on their own, but when they line up together to form a coherent clothing strategy, they tend to reinforce each other and amplify your savings.









10 Ideas for Reusing Your Kids’ Outgrown Clothes

As my youngest (and last) daughter starts outgrowing her clothes, I can’t help but feeling nostalgic. After all, much of her wardrobe she inherited from her big sister, and in some cases, the clothing was hand-me-downs at least thrice over, as they were things I’d bought for my eldest at consignment sales, or that friends with older kids passed along. Certain dresses or T-shirts give me fond associations of a favorite outing, a photo I love, or a milestone accomplishment.

But now as Gillian outgrows her clothes each season, there’s no one left in the house to save them for, which in a way is a relief, as it frees up much-needed closet space. It’s a situation that plenty of parents face: What to do with a surfeit of outgrown clothes as your child ages?

Recyclebank recently posed a question on Facebook, asking members for ideas on how to repurpose a toddler’s outgrown pants, and was rewarded with dozens of suggestions. The creative ideas from the Recyclebank community inspired this list of 10 ways to repurpose, recycle and otherwise divert used kids’ clothing from the trash.

1. Donate to charity. Clothing that’s in decent condition can always be found a new wearer at shelters, Goodwill or other charitable organizations.

2. Send it to school. Recyclebanker Lizette A. pointed out that preschools and elementary schools are often in need of “backup clothes” for kids who spill on their clothes or have an accident. The art teacher might be able to use larger T-shirts or button-down shirts as smocks for students to use while painting.

3. Sew a quilt. For t-shirts with cute sayings, shirts or dresses with neat patterns, or particularly memorable and special outfits, cut out squares of fabric and turn them into a quilt that you can use in your child’s room as a throw blanket or a wall hanging.

4. Make a mini scarecrow. For a cute Fall yard decoration, baste together a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt and stuff them with straw. Top with a pumpkin or a stuffed burlap sack for a head. Thanks to Recyclebanker Sharon H. for this unique idea!

5. Turn pants into a tote. Cut the legs off a pair of kids’ jeans or cords, sewing the bottom closed and affixing a long strap to the top opening to make a tote bag that can be worn slung over your child’s shoulder, perfect for gathering seashells at the beach or rocks while on a hike. The bag is also the perfect size for small garden tools, as Recyclebanker Shannon C. pointed out, and the strap can be slung over a wheelbarrow handle or a fence post, too.

6. Restock your cleaning rags. Fleece pajamas and cotton t-shirts are the perfect fabrics for rags and dustcloths. Cut them into squares and keep them with your cleaning supplies.

7. Refashion into new clothes. Many Recyclebankers suggested turning old clothes into totally new clothes. Try turning jeans into a cute denim skirt, or turning a sweatshirt into a cardigan, or cut pants into shorts if they still fit at the waist.

8. Earn a few bucks. Consider selling good-quality outgrown clothes at a consignment shop or sale, or at a resale shop like Kid to Kid. Keep in mind that many consignment-type places will only accept clothes that are in like-new condition.

9. Make a planter. Turn a pair of jeans into a whimsical hanging planter with these instructions .

10. Salvage for parts. Recyclebanker Jodi J. suggested removing zippers and buttons to reuse for a sewing project, and Recyclebanker Kristi H. suggested making arm or leg warmers — knitted fabrics are especially good for that. You can also cut out pieces of fabric to use as patches, and make braided jewelry from strips of fabric cut from the clothing.








Baby Haul Second Time Around


Ribbon Hacks







Fingerless Gloves from Dollar Store Socks or Gently use Socks



Upcycle Old Sweaters into a Cool Scarf



Gifts from Children


Holiday Bags




Cute Kids Clothes


Hemming Jeans


How to sew a ripped hole in clothing.


Purse Project


Show & Sell



How to Restyle Old Clothes


Find large bags and make into backpacks.



How to clean canvas shoes.



How To Organize Off-season Clothes And Hand-Me-Downs.


My seasonal transition and hand-me-down system used to be impossibly complicated. Going by popular advice, I’d keep separate bins for each clothing size, each season. It sounded good at the time: in theory, that would mean that every season, I’d only have to pull out that season and that size’s bin…right?
But in practice there were a few things wrong with this system:
We rarely have enough kids’ clothes in a single size to fill an entire bin, and especially not if we separate them out by season. So a bin for each size, each season, cost too much and took up a lot of space.
Too many bins meant too many opportunities for bins to get buried or shoved too far back in the closet or basement storage area. Every year I would lose track of at least one bin, then go buy a bunch of new clothes and later uncover the bin and realize I’d spent a lot of money I didn’t need to.
All size 6’s are not alike. Sometimes clothes in a certain size – especially when we’re talking about baggy t-shirts and adjustable waist pants – fit a variety of kids. There is way too much variety in fit and sizing practices to predict which child will wear which sizes, in which brands and types of clothing, at which age.
All seasons are not alike. A kid who is an athlete or doesn’t like wearing warm pajamas may need shorts and t-shirts in rotation throughout the year. And t-shirts are winter wear for kids who like to layer.
I also attempted to keep a detailed written inventory of all clothing items we own, but somewhere along the line my head started to spin around and I abandoned that idea quickly enough!
So what I finally settled on is a simple, streamlined system for organizing hand-me-downs and off-season clothes that allows me to factor in my actual kids and their actual clothing needs, right now. By keeping everything together in one place, there’s less risk of a size going missing.
Basically what I do is store everything together – all off-season clothes and all in-between sizes – and, twice a year, commit to going through every single item of clothing to make a decision about what to do with it for the upcoming season.
If you live in a climate that has seasons and you have multiple kids who are no longer growing out of sizes every few months, and/or handing down clothing to a younger sibling, this strategy can help you keep the task of organizing all those clothes manageable.
Organizing Kids’ Clothes:
Seasonal and Hand-Me-Down Storage Made Simple
Note: for the sake of this post, “off-season” refers to the clothing I will be putting away for the upcoming season, while “in-season” refers to the clothing I’m working back into our wardrobes for the upcoming season.
Bins, bags, boxes, and baskets (what you’ll need):
Enough bins with lids to hold all off-season clothes for the whole family (We usually need one more bin for winter/fall clothes than for summer.)

Bags or boxes for donations
Every laundry basket in the house
Before you begin (inventory & planning):

1. A few weeks before the weather changes, I start slowly collecting clothes out of the clean laundry that I intend to put away for the season and put them in a basket, which I keep in my room. Anything that the kids will have outgrown in the next six months goes into a donation pile.
At the same time, I go and pluck a few extra items per person out of the off-season bins and wash them so we have a variety of clothes to wear during the transitional months. This just gives me a head-start on the whole process.

2. Once I can tell that the weather is heading quickly in the cooler (or warmer!) direction, I choose a day that I can set aside several hours to work on the project of doing the big transition.
Gather all the clothes in the house (yes, really.)

3. We keep off-season clothes in plastic bins in our basement, which is also where our laundry is. So the first step is to start taking all the clothes out of the bins and washing them. When they’re dry, they go in a laundry basket.
If your clothes went into an airtight bin while clean, they might not need to be laundered, or maybe a spin in the dryer with a dryer sheet would freshen them up. I find that ours get a bit musty being in the basement and with all the dust and mold allergies in our family, washing them is best for us.
Whether or not you choose to re-launder the clothes that have been stored,  you will need to make sure all the clothes in the house are clean for this system to work well. Think of it as incentive to get caught up on the laundry!

4. While the laundry is running I take the basket of clean off-season clothes I’ve been collecting, and start folding and putting them away into one of the bins. I don’t worry about sorting them by family member – everything goes in together, because I always do this job all at once so the sorting happens on the other end. You don’t absolutely have to start collecting clothes ahead of time, but I find that it gives me something to do while I’m waiting for clothes to get clean.
5. Then I walk around the house and go through every single drawer, plucking out any clothes I want to put away for the season. Those get folded and put into the bins, too – remember, everything just goes together, no need to sort! Note: I always leave a few off-season items in each child’s drawer for layering, or in case we go on a vacation or experience unseasonable weather.

6. When everything is clean, we bring all the baskets of clothes upstairs, and dump them all in the middle of the living room floor. Yes, everything together! It creates quite an impressive mountain of clothes.

Fold and sort. Fold and sort. Fold and sort. Repeat.
7. Now comes the epic folding and sorting session. I set myself up in front of the TV with a cup of tea and start creating a stack for each family member. As I go, I quickly make executive decisions about each item:
Is the item too small for Owen, my youngest son? If so, it goes in the donation pile unless it’s something Clara would wear (t-shirts, pajamas, and hoodies, yes; jeans and pants, generally no.)
Note: I sort Clara’s clothes separately because hers are mostly passed down to her from her older cousin Ruby, and when she’s done, we put them in a bin to go to Ruby’s little sister Luna!
Is it hopelessly torn or stained? It goes into a separate pile to be turned into rags.
Is the item a between size – for example, too small for Isaac, not yet big enough for William? If so, it goes right back in the off-season bin, even if it’s in-season.
This is an important part of my system – I keep off-season and in-between-sized clothes, regardless of whether they’re in season or not, TOGETHER rather than separating them into separate bins. I find that it keeps everything very simple and streamlined, which is what I need! Otherwise I’d constantly be losing track of where everything is.
I do give sizing some leeway here – if something isn’t quite fitting a kid yet but is likely to within the coming season, I go ahead and put it in their drawer.

8. The rest of this process is self-explanatory: just continue to fold, separate into piles, and then give to the kids to put away in their drawers. I usually have the kids take clothes up as soon as the piles start to get precarious, rather than waiting until they’re toppling over. This also helps keep the kids from getting too overwhelmed by the putting-away process.

Put it away, store it away, or give it away
9. Donation bags go out to the car and I ask Jon to take them immediately to the thrift store so I don’t forget!
10. Now I put the lids on the bins, which are already labeled “off-season clothes,” and put them in a designated area of the basement…all except one, which I leave in the living room for now.
Why? No matter how careful I am to find everything I want to put away and get all the clothes clean before we start this process, inevitably a few items I meant to put away will continue to show up in the laundry over the next week or two. So I keep the least-full bin upstairs a while longer until I’m pretty sure the process is done.
Note: If you are incorporating this system for the first time, you’ll need to start your process a little differently than I detailed above…but either way, I recommend starting from scratch, as scary as it might sound: get ALL your clothes in one place and go through them a piece at a time.

Yes, it’s time-consuming, but I promise you will save yourself time and money not having to shop for something that it turns out you already have, or constantly shifting around hand-me-downs that nobody is ever going to wear again.
I’ve been using this strategy for three or four years now with a couple of tweaks along the way, and I have found that making personal contact with every item of clothing in our house greatly simplifies my seasonal clothing transition AND helps me save money on clothes shopping because nothing gets “lost” along the way.

And since I know I’m going to look at every single piece twice a year, there’s no reason to over-complicate the sorting, labeling, or organizing system.
Now that I’ve got this under control? This year, I’m moving on to getting our off-season shoes under control. If anyone has tips for THAT, I’m all ears.






How to Clean Thrift Store Clothing


So you’ve followed my thrifting tips and scored some amazing finds, but now what? How do you sanitize items like clothing, shoes and accessories once you get them home? I’ve come across some thrift stores that are cleaner than others, but you always {always} want to clean items before wearing them. You never know how many people wore the item before you and you don’t want that stale smell that some second hand clothing can have.

Check out the easy tips below on how to clean your thrifted items.

Simply follow label instructions and treat them as you would a perfectly new garment. If the items says ‘dry clean only,’ then you want to do just that. There’s no point in wasting your money by destroying a garment due to improper care. I know some people who feel all thrifted items should be dry cleaned, but I think this is completely unnecessary and it can get a bit expensive if you’re an avid thriftier like myself. Drop the load in the laundry machine, dry on the highest heat possible and you’re good to go. For delicate garments, hand wash with a product like Woo lite and lay flat to dry.

For earrings, rings, necklaces or bracelets, wipe them down with rubbing alcohol and let dry before wearing.

Wipe the inside and sole of the shoe with rubbing alcohol and/or with those handy Lysol disinfectant wipes. *Test the rubbing alcohol out on a small section of the shoe to make sure it doesn’t affect the material*






Recycle Ruined Clothes




Saving on Children’s Cloths





Redesign you kids clothing to get more wear.




How to Pay for Extracurricular Activities


Extracurricular activities can assist a child’s physical and social development. They can learn to work as part of a team, improve their physical endurance, hone artistic skills, and gain confidence. In addition, they can develop a lifelong love of sports or the arts, which benefits them throughout their lives.

When one considers the current childhood obesity epidemic, giving your children a love of physical activity can positively affect their health for years to come.

Although sports and artistic activities can cost parents a lot of money, you can find ways to pay less for children’s extracurricular activities, and still reap the benefits.

Saving on Sports Programs

If your children participate in sports programs through their school, there is often no fee for participation. With the plethora of private leagues and groups for both younger and older children, parents often pay a substantial fee for their child to play a sport. Consider some of these suggestions to lower the cost of athletic activities:

1. Register Early
Many sports programs offer a discount of 10% to 30% if you pre-register your children. For example, a local soccer league in our area offers a 10% discount if you register your children two months before practice begins. Alternatively, some leagues may offer a 10% discount if the first month’s fee is paid a few weeks before the season begins, or if the fees are paid in full rather than on a month to month schedule.

2. Seek Scholarships
Many expensive sports offer scholarships to a few students. Ask the program director or the coach if scholarships are available. The organization may even waive the fee or offer a discounted rate.

3. Seek Sponsorship
Some sports groups may allow each team player to acquire their own sponsorship from businesses to help defray the costs of participating. Check with your team’s program director or coach to learn more about the availability of sponsorships.

If you plan to apply for a sponsorship, write a brief resume for your child, focusing on his or her involvement and commitment to the sport. Include a cover letter that further details your child’s commitment to the sport, and how the sponsorship would benefit your child, and your family.

If your child receives a sponsorship, send the sponsor a heartfelt thank you note. You can also seek sponsorship for the entire team, to help defray the costs for all of the parents.

4. Enroll in Community Center Sports
If your child is young and new to a sport, consider signing up for classes offered by a local community center or department of parks and recreation. Kids in preschool or early elementary school often want to sample a variety of sports, and a course through a community center of department of parks and recreation won’t require a year-long time commitment. The classes typically run from two to four months, which is ample time for your child to experience the activity and decide if he or she wants to pursue the sport.

My three year old daughter wants to take dance classes, just like her big brother. If I sign her up at the dance studio, the class costs $44 a month, and we have to make a year-long commitment. If I sign her up for a class at the local department of parks and recreation, we only pay $50 for 8 weeks of classes. The parks and recreation class costs 50% less, and we don’t have to make a long-term commitment.

5. Join a League at the YMCA
The YMCA offers many classes for children, including swimming, soccer, and basketball. In addition, they offer a class that lets students sample a different sport each week.

If you are unable to afford the YMCA membership fees, you can apply for a scholarship. If you qualify, the scholarship applies to both the membership fee and the class fee. Sports and scholarships offered through the YMCA vary based on location.

6. Join Upward Sports
Upward Sports is a Christian-based sports program available throughout the United States. The program offers leagues and camps for basketball, cheerleading, flag football, and soccer. The fees include the costs of playing, practicing, purchasing gear, and buying uniforms. For families that have financial hardship, they offer scholarships. Practice and games include a religious component, where children learn about God, sportsmanship, and healthy competition.

7. Volunteer
If you can coach or manage a team, record baseball scores, or sell refreshments during games, you may receive a discount. Talk to the organization or community center that oversees the sports program to discuss working for the program, and receiving a discount on your children’s fees or equipment.

Saving on Sports Equipment

In addition to paying fees to participate in classes and leagues, parents have to pay a number of associated costs when children participate in sports. For example, many sports require uniforms and expensive gear, including balls, cleats, mitts, or shin guards for soccer. Those items can add up, especially if you pay full price.

With the abundance of used equipment available, parents don’t have to pay full price. Play It Again Sports sells used sports equipment on consignment in good to very good condition. Most of the time, using used equipment has no effect on your child’s ability to participate in the sport.

Some of my favorite strategies for finding used sports equipment include:

1. Buy from a Secondhand Store
Consignment stores, secondhand stores, and thrift stores sell new and used sports equipment. Kids grow quickly, and lose interest in sports quickly, so the sports equipment is typically in good condition. Most national store chains also offer new and used gear for a variety of sports, including football, golf, and skiing.

Play It Again Sports has a knowledgeable staff and an excellent selection of used equipment. The staff can help you find the right equipment for your children, and the perfect fit.

2. Check with Friends and Neighbors
Put out the word that you need equipment for your child’s sport. Many people have old sports gear cluttering up their garages or basements, and they would be happy to donate the items to your family.

3. Check out Garage Sales
You may find some sports equipment at garage sales. To narrow your search, search the classifieds, Craigslist or Garage Sale Tracker for sporting equipment at local garage sales. Sports equipment and gear sells quickly, so arrive early.

4. Buy on Craigslist or eBay
You can find new and used sports equipment for sale on Craigslist and eBay. A quick look at Craigslist in my area showed seven new listings for tap shoes for sale in the last five days. On average, the shoes cost $10; buying them new can cost $25 to $40.

When you shop online at auction sites like eBay, factor in the costs for shipping to your total costs, as the price to ship sports equipment may negate the savings. The shipping costs should be clearly listed on the auction pages.

Savings on Supplies for Music & the Arts

Just as the equipment needed to participate in sports can drive up the price of playing a sport, the supplies needed for artistic activities can also add up quickly. If your child takes piano lessons, he or she needs a piano, but they can cost hundreds of dollars.

Many parents invest in pricey instruments, only to discover in a year or two that their children no longer want to pursue music.

Some of the best ways to obtain musical instruments and related equipment without spending a small fortune include:

1. Rent Musical Instruments
To learn how to play a musical instrument, a child must practice every day, and needs access to the instrument. Consider renting the instruments instead of purchasing them. You can rent locally or from an online dealer, although prices vary.

Renting instruments helps mitigate costs if your child decides to stop playing or decides to move on to something else. When you rent, the shop typically handles repairs and maintenance for you as well.

I played the French horn for one year in sixth grade. Luckily, my parents rented the instrument instead of buying it, because my interest in playing quickly waned. Presently, French horns rent for $40 to $50 a month, but they cost well over $1,000. If my parents had bought me one when I took lessons, they would have wasted several hundreds of dollars.

2. Buy Used Instruments
If you want to buy an instrument, consider buying it used. People often need to get larger instruments out of the home, and sell items like used pianos fairly cheaply. Browse the classifieds, Craigslist, and eBay, and ask family and friends to donate used instruments, too.

3. Shop for Used Music Books
If your child plays an instrument, the cost of new music books can add up quickly. Used books serve the same purpose, for a fraction of the cost. Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay have multiple listings for used music books at rock-bottom prices. Family and friends may also have used music books they can donate, too.






How to sew leggings for your child toe wear to school, daycare, play and just hanging out.



Would you like to make a keepsake out of your child’s baby clothing.  Trying making them a blanket quilt with their old cloths.




How to Organize Kids’ Schoolwork

Children inevitably come home from school with scads of artwork and assignments. What to do with it all? Follow the simple steps in this video to keep it contained and well organized throughout the school year and beyond.

Follow These Steps

  1. Buy one bin for each child and label itPurchase as many plastic containers as you have school-age children. Choose deep lidded containers that are big enough to lay schoolwork and standard-size artwork flat. Label each bin with the child’s name and grade. If you wish, you can add the names of classroom and art teachers.Tip: Select containers that come in different colors and designate one color per child.
  2. Collect work in the binWhen your child comes home with art or class work, simply drop it in the bin, discarding anything you don’t wish to save.Tip: The only surefire way to preserve your children’s most special works of art is to frame them using acid-free matting and UV-filtering glass.
  3. Take pictures of oversized piecesFor items that can’t be saved—dioramas or collages made with food products such as macaroni—and for oversize artwork that doesn’t fit in the bin, snap a photograph, print it, and pop it in the bin.Tip: Consider asking your child to hold or stand next to the art project you’re photographing. The resulting image will bring back even clearer memories of a particular time in your child’s life.
  4. Sort and store bin when school year endsWhen the school year is over and you have the time and inclination, open the bin and leaf through everything you’ve saved. You can reminisce while deciding what’s worth saving for good and what can be discarded. When you’re finished, close the lid securely and store the bin with the label facing outward.



Cleaning Thrift Store Cloths


  1. Dry clean your thrift store clothing. Look at the care instructions tag. If the piece of clothing is dry clean only, send it to the dry cleaners. Dry cleaning destroys most germs since dry cleaning involves the use of chemicals and heat.
  2. Wash the garment. If the garment is washable, wash it in hot water. Use the hottest setting possible, but only if the manufacturer’s tag indicates that you can use hot water. Add about one eighth cup of Pine Sol to the wash cycle. Once the wash and rinse cycles end, run it through another rinse cycle. This time, add one tablespoon of baking soda to the rinse water. The baking soda will get rid of the Pine Sol scent. You may use any disinfectant or antiseptic solution in place of Pine Sol. However, test the antiseptic solution on a small area of the garment to ensure that it does not cause any fading. Dry your thrift store clothing in the hottest possible setting.
  3. Disinfect accessories. Disinfect items such as shoes, leather caps and other small items with Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Test the antiseptic product on an inconspicuous area on the item to ensure that it’s safe to use alcohol or any other disinfecting solution. Simply dip a piece of cloth or cotton swab in the disinfecting solution and wipe the item with it.
  4. Cleaning and disinfecting thrift store clothing is simple and does not require much of your time, so keep looking for second-hand bargains. Enjoy your thrift store clothing while you enjoy the savings.



How to breath new life into an handbag

Refinery 29


We’ve all got them: bags we used to love, but are now consigned to the back of our closets forever. And yet, for some mysterious reason, we can’t bear to just get rid of the things.

Maybe the purse you’ve been hanging onto was your first big-girl designer purchase, or maybe it’s the bag that saw you through four long years of traipsing across campus and late-night library cram sessions. Whatever the reason, there’s no need for a nostalgic bag to stay stuck in the past (or in the closet).

With a little time and minimal DIY skills, you can turn your no-bueno bag into a shoulder-worthy showpiece once more. To prove it, we tapped our own creative team to give three bags a much-needed makeover.


Used Clothes Are Cheaper — And Better — For My Kids

By MommyIsh

Read more:

In the fifth grade, one of my classmates came up to me and said, “No offense, but why do you always wear the same clothes?” The short answer was that my family was cheap and that my grandmother had made the majority of my wardrobe, which numbered about six pieces of coordinating skirts and tops. Looking back on this moment (which marked my hatred of people saying “no offense” and then being offensive), I’m proud of my response: “Because I really like them.”

I date my love of vintage, weird, and/or homemade clothing back to around that time, but it didn’t really gain steam until I discovered thrift shopping when I was 13. Regardless of what was happening in my life—because growing up is effortless and fun!– I always enjoyed the thrill of the score whether it was a vintage Yves Saint Laurent dress, a velvet blazer, or some cork-soled wedgies from the 70’s. Dressing in vintage let me tell everyone that I was very special and unique. After a while, though, it became a habit and a natural part of how I viewed myself. It also did not contribute to the growing demand for sweatshop-made clothing, which I avoided even then. And like my parents, I’m cheap.

Upon my husband and I finding out I was pregnant with a girl, I cautioned myself the way someone with a lifelong passion probably should: Don’t push the kid into loving clothing and thrift-shopping or she will probably resent you. With my luck, I thought ruefully, my daughter will view clothes only for their practicality (very few of my clothes are practical) and not their more . . . artistic qualities. I waddled through my pregnancy wearing tie-died caftans and lace maxi-dresses like a boss and made certain that I would make sure the baby looked normal until she chose not to — on her own terms.

We built up a small pile of onesies for the baby, gifts from family and friends. All very cute, sweet little outfits. The baby was born, and after I figured out that I could dress her in a footie without breaking her, we were content. All was well until she was three months old, my husband lost his job, and she hit her first really big growth spurt.

I managed to wrangle a few hand-me-downs from friends, but for the most part I was on my own trying to make sure my daughter was adequately clothed. That growth spurt never really stopped (her father is Wookie-sized), resulting in a child who is quite tall. Since she was growing at such a fast clip, I needed access to cheap, readily available clothing. Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and smaller thrift stores provided me with the answer.

There are some serious downsides to thrift-shopping for children that might frustrate someone who is not a seasoned second-hand shopper. The clothes are cheap, yes, but there may not be anything cute for sale the day you go in; or there may not be anything in your kid’s size. And even if you find something stylish it might be seriously stained or falling apart from frequent washings. The key is to hit the same stores every week and snatch up the good stuff. After I got the hang of shopping for her, I realized that I should be grabbing items that were one or two sizes larger. (Light-bulb moment!) She grows fast anyway, and there’s less pressure to make sure it fits right now.

And, lo, what good stuff I’ve found! Hand-made Peter Pan-collared dresses with embroidered flowers. Corduroy jumpers with cute buttons. Psychedelic-print dresses from the sixties. Floral Laura Ashley dresses from the eighties. Corny sweater vests with train and teddy bear motifs. Freaking adorable, barely used stuff from two years ago that someone let go. It’s all there in my daughter’s closet, augmented by the occasional pair of new shorts. And even though my husband found a job (it only took a year, sob) I’m still going strong.

The response from family, friends, and the general public has been positive, although I think it has a lot more to do with her innate cuteness than her outfits. And sometimes I mess up a little. The perfectly faded eighties-era Avengers t-shirt I found? My husband suggested that perhaps it would be best for pajama use only. After targeted questioning, he said that it was too big and a little too barf-colored for his taste, and I agree that perhaps not everyone would appreciate it. Yet. I’ll throw it on her next May when the Avengers sequel comes out and we’ll see then.

Of course, these halcyon days will not last forever. My daughter is already beginning to exert her will in a number of areas, and sometimes she rails against her twee wardrobe. Partially this is because of the heat—here in Texas it’s cooler to hang out wearing only a pull-up. (Try it!) But I know, ultimately, that at some point she will want to choose her own clothing, and it’s not a hill I consider worth dying on. What I am doing now, though, is saving all of my clothing that has just gone out of fashion for her, in case she decides as a teenager that her old mom had it going on fashion-wise. Maybe I’ll even let her borrow a piece or two.


8 Ways to Make the Most of Thrift Store Clothing Finds

Image result for kids second hand cloths


The case for thrift store shopping is a strong one: You can score great pieces on the cheap while doing your part to help your community and decrease your own environmental impact.

But while thrift shopping might make you feel your best, secondhand clothes don’t always make you look your best. Clothes that are worn, faded, out-of-season, and just plain cheap can give your secondhand secret away.

Therefore, it is important that you do your best to make the most of your thrift store finds. By ensuring that you select quality pieces and take proper care, you can fool anyone into thinking that you bought your outfit at the mall, just like everyone else.

Dressing Up Thrift Store Finds

I love the fact that thrift and secondhand shopping is becoming more in vogue. It means that shoppers are becoming a little more conscious of how and where they spend their money, while acknowledging that clothes don’t necessarily lose their value just because they were pre-loved. Use these tips and you’ll always be well-dressed, no matter how many times an item was worn before you snagged it.

1. Shop in the Right Area

One of the best ways to get the most bang for your buck while thrift shopping is to make sure that you scope out an affluent area. Affluent areas mean affluent people, which increases the chance of finding quality goods, big-name labels, and better fabrics.

Before visiting a thrift shop – especially if you need to travel a significant distance to get there – call ahead to ask two important questions:

  • When Does the Store Restock Shelves? Thrift stores generally do not put out new goods every day. In fact, many only restock one day per week. By finding out when a store restocks, you’re guaranteed to have first pick of the higher-end merchandise that comes though the doors.
  • Are There Any Discount Days? Many thrift shops have rack-clearing events once a month to make room for new merchandise. That can mean deep discounts to the tune of 25% to 50% off certain items – or even your entire purchase.

What is most important to you: huge discounts, or new merchandise? Regardless, shopping in a more affluent area gives you the best chance for top-quality goods.

2. Hunt for Quality Brands and Fabrics

Due to the low prices of thrift stores, it can be tempting to fill up your cart with impulse purchases. But before you buy that polyester pantsuit, remember that in the long run, high-quality clothes always look better than cheaper fabrics. By specifically looking for name-brand items that have a reputation for being high-quality (for example, Banana Republic for work wear), you can be sure that your thrift store finds don’t fall apart or show wear too soon.

Natural fibers always look best over time, even if they cost a bit more. Seek out cotton, linen, and leather, and avoid fabrics such as polyester, nylon, or pleather, which can definitely look cheap and worn over time.

Hunting for name brand goods? You might have better luck at consignment stores, which either purchase from or split proceeds with previous owners. Many consignment stores have strict rules regarding name-brand clothes, so while you might pay more than an average donation-driven thrift store, you can be assured of name-brand stuff. Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t find name-brand clothes at the thrift store – it just means you’ll find them more reliably when shopping consignment.

3. Shop According to Trends

Head to a mainstream retailer and take note of what’s trending. Do you see a ton of leopard print? Is everyone going with gold accessories? How about leather embellishments? Then, head to the secondhand or thrift store and start looking for items that embody those trends. The point is, fashion is cyclical: You might find a vintage leopard-print belt that is years (or even decades) old, but totally current.

4. Know What to Avoid

There are a few things that smart thrift shoppers pass over because they’ll always look cheap or clearly worn. By knowing what you should avoid when shopping, you won’t get stuck with a garment that is completely unwearable or a dead giveaway to your thrift shopping habit.

In general, pass over these items:

  • Clothes With Heavy Embellishments. Secondhand clothes that feature embellishments such as sequins, heavy contrast stitching, and glitter might look cute, but remember that they’ve already had some use. Even if the embellishments seem secure now, over time they can loosen and even fall off. What’s more, you might not even notice that embellishments are missing when you first grab the item. Instead, look for quality basics with fun fabrics, instead of sewn- or glued-on embellishments.
  • Damaged Clothes. A hole may seem like no big deal if you’re a great seamstress. However, if you have no idea how to repair items, skip over the stuff with holes, embellishments that are falling off, and other areas of clear damage. If you don’t have the ability to fix it, it’s a waste of money – no matter how good of a deal.
  • Clothes With Stains and Smells. Give a piece of clothing a good once-over. Are there stains? Does it have a funny smell? These are two red flags that the item might not be the best quality. Even if you could wash out the stains and smells, it’s a sign that the previous owner might not have taken good care of the item.

5. Stock Up on Jewelry

One thing I always advise people to buy from thrift shops is jewelry. There is usually a massive selection, and often you can’t really tell the cheap jewels from the expensive ones. Head over to the accessories section of the thrift store and load up on statement necklaces, vintage brooches, eclectic watches, and large rings. Adding them to your wardrobe basics and thrift store finds can make everything look more expensive and of better quality. Just be sure to check that stones are firmly glued, and watch for broken clasps.

Jewelry is also a great place to start if you’ve never gone thrift shopping before. Most jewelry doesn’t show much wear, and many thrift stores have lots to choose from, so it’s a little less daunting than hunting for designer goods among the racks of clothes.

6. Eliminate Signs of Wear

Once you’ve taken your thrift store treasures home, it’s time to check and see if there are any signs of wear, many of which can be removed by a gentle hand.

  • If the Clothes Are Faded: I swear by Rit dye as a way to make faded clothes look new again. A bottle of dye costs about $6 at Walmart and can breathe new life into old clothes. Just choose a color close to the original hue of the garment (or, if you’re feeling adventurous, dye a lighter-colored item a new shade completely, since white and tan take colors well) and follow the package directions.
  • If the Clothes Are Pilled: If you found a wool sweater with signs of pilling, never fear – there’s a simple fix. While you can definitely use a sweater shaver to get rid of those little fabric balls, I use a clean razor. With a very light hand, draw the razor down in the direction of the fabric’s weave to easily remove pilled-up bits. Just use a light hand, since pushing on the razor could actually slice a hole in the garment.
  • If the Embellishments Look Worn: If you’ve gone against better judgement and grabbed something with embellishments, you might want to remove them if they look like they’ve seen better days. A sharp pair of scissors can make quick work of removing worn and outdated sequins and fringe.

By taking a few minutes to spruce up secondhand clothes, they’ll look closer to being new, which also means you’ll enjoy more wear out of them yourself.

7. Launder Properly

Before you wear clothes from the thrift store, you should always launder carefully. Always check each item’s laundering tag individually, since some might be fine in the regular wash, but certain fabrics (such as cashmere, silk, and wool) may require hand washing or dry cleaning.

Once you’ve separated the delicates, gather all the items that can go through your washing machine and choose a hot water cycle. Pre-treat any areas that may need a little extra attention (such as the armpit area of blouses) and toss your items into the washing machine. Hot water cleans the clothes but can also kill any bugs that might have hitched a ride on your new-to-you articles of clothing.

If an item requires special laundering, always take the time to do it before your first wear. Clean secondhand clothes are a must if you want them to look polished and of good quality.

8. Get a Tailor

If I could give one piece of advice for always dressing well – whether clothes are new or from a thrift store – it’s to make friends with a tailor in your area. Not all secondhand clothes are going to fit like a glove, but it’s hard to pass up a designer deal. Therefore, you can make that amazing J.Crew blazer fit perfectly by handing it off to a tailor.

What a tailor charges for minor alterations depends on where you live, but in general, you can expect to pay about $15 to $20 for pant hems, $20 to $25 for jackets and dresses to be fitted, about $15 for sleeves to be hemmed, and $20 to $25 for dresses and skirts to be shortened. If you got the item for a steal, adding $20 to make sure it fits properly is a small investment. You can even ask a tailor to swap out outdated buttons or tighten loose seams for a small fee






“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey

National Education Technology Plan 2016

See below for details

Image result for u.s. education

Mission:  to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

The U.S. Department of Education  announced in Dec 2015 the  2016 National Education Technology Plan and new commitments to support personalized professional learning for district leaders across the country working to improve teaching and student achievement through the effective use of technology.

Updated every five years, the plan is the flagship educational technology policy document for the United States. The 2016 plan outlines a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible. While acknowledging the continuing need to provide greater equity of access to technology itself, the plan goes further to call upon all involved in American education to ensure equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology.

“Technology has the potential to bring remarkable new possibilities to teaching and learning by providing teachers with opportunities to share best practices, and offer parents platforms for engaging more deeply and immediately in their children’s learning,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “It can change the experiences of students in the most challenging circumstances by helping educators to personalize the learning experience based on students’ needs and interests—meeting our students where they are and challenging them to reach even higher. This year’s update to the National Education Technology Plan includes a strong focus on equity because every student deserves an equal chance to engage in educational experiences powered by technology that can support and accelerate learning.”

The plan calls for schools and districts to:

  • Redesign teacher preparation programs to shift from a single technology course to thoughtful use of technology throughout a teacher’s preparation and minimum standards for higher education instructors’ tech proficiency.
  • Set an expectation of equitable access to technology and connectivity inside and outside of school regardless of students’ backgrounds.
  • Adopt high-quality openly licensed educational materials in place of staid, traditional textbooks.
  • Implement universal design principles for accessibility across all educational institutions and include these principles within teacher preparation programs.
  • Improve technology-based assessments to allow for embedded delivery within instruction and making near real-time feedback for educators possible.
  • Establish a robust technology infrastructure that meets current connectivity goals and can be augmented to meet future demand.

“Today we set a new vision for technology to support learning and have assembled an unprecedented coalition of partners dedicated to making sure that vision becomes practice to transform the learning of all students,” said Director of the Office of Educational Technology Richard Culatta.

In addition to the release of the plan, the Department celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Future Ready initiative with the announcement of new commitments including the launch of 17 statewide Future Ready initiatives. Since the launch of Future Ready in 2014, more than 2,000 superintendents across the country have signed the pledge and committed to foster and lead a culture of digital learning in their district and to share what they have learned with other districts. More than 44 national and 12 regional partner organizations have committed to helping states, districts and schools become Future Ready.

The Department’s Office of Educational Technology also unveiled a set of professional learning resources to help district superintendents and their teams to effectively lead the transition to digital learning. These resources include personalizable video playlists for district leaders that highlight exemplary, peer-based stories and practices from districts across the country.

“Through collaboration, a robust infrastructure and personalized learning, Future Ready district leaders are shaping the vision for how technology can transform learning for all students,” said Delegated Deputy Secretary of Education John King.

Future Ready commitments

  • The Alliance for Excellent Education  has launched a new, independent entity called Future Ready that will lead the charge for ongoing Future Ready work.  The new Future Ready website features a one-stop resource center for ongoing professional learning opportunities including partner events, workshops, online chats, mentoring and topic conversations all aligned to the Future Ready Framework. These high-quality, curated Future Ready resources, are provided by the Alliance, the Department and coalition partner organizations. A free online planning tool called the Future Ready Planning Dashboard helps district leadership teams assess readiness, identify gaps, choose research-based strategies, and create a customized digital learning action plan.
  • The Future Ready coalition includes 44 national partner organizations and 12 new regional organizations. In addition to supporting Future Ready, coalition partners have also been specifically asked to contribute resources that align to the four key Future Ready focus areas: Collaborative Leadership, Robust Infrastructure, Personalized Professional Learning, and Personalized Student Learning.
  • Future Ready partners are launching extension programs such as toolkits, webinars, courses, workshops and mentoring programs to provide support for districts and states as they transform teaching and learning in their schools. At least four in-person workshops and monthly virtual dashboard training sessions will also be available. These implementation support programs can be found at
  • Seventeen states are launching Future Ready statewide initiatives designed to capture and harness the momentum of the national effort. The states are: California, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. With the exception of California, all statewide initiatives are sponsored by the state departments of education. The Future Ready California Initiative is co-sponsored by CUE, TICAL and CALSA.
  • The Department will hold five regional Future Ready summits in 2016 in Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Madison, Wisconsin; Seattle, Washington; and Tampa, Florida. The summits are open to district leadership teams from districts where the superintendent has signed the Future Ready District Pledge. Corporate partners Apple, Google, Microsoft and McGraw Hill have committed to provide support for 2-day regional summits and 1-day dashboard training workshops.

For more on the work of the Department’s Office of Educational Technology, visit

Edutopia  – “Integrated Studies”
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Watch great videos like this one from Edutopia.

What Is Integrated Studies?

Integrated studies combines curriculum from two or more disciplines, allowing students to see how ideas are connected. Teaching in such a contextual manner promotes collaboration, critical thinking, and knowledge retention.

Integrated studies is a great way to get students more involved in school; it enhances motivation, problem-solving skills, content knowledge, and deeper understanding of connections across subjects. In Edutopia’s integrated studies research review, discover seven key approaches in effective curriculum integration, get our specific recommendations on evidence-based practices and programs, learn about pitfalls to avoid, and dig into an annotated bibliography of studies supporting the efficacy of integrated studies practices.

What Is Integrated Studies?

Integrated studies involves the combination of two or more subjects in a lesson, project, classroom, or curriculum. Teachers can draw interdisciplinary connections by making relationships between different subjects explicit, and/or by working with other teachers in teams across subjects. For example, science and English language arts teachers may have students read multiple texts about a scientific issue that is relevant to their lives or community, then ask them to evaluate the evidence and reasoning of the various texts in a collaborative discussion and write a persuasive essay in which they take a stance on the issue.


Kids Health – “It’s Almost Time To Go Back To School”


Find out health information for your kids at


It’s school time again! You’re probably feeling excited and maybe a little sad that summer is over. Some kids feel nervous or a little scared on the first day of school because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. Luckily, these “new” worries only stick around for a little while. Let’s find out more about going back to school.

The First Day

Most teachers kick off the school year by introducing themselves and talking about all the stuff you’ll be doing that year. Some teachers give students a chance to tell something about themselves to the rest of the class.

What do you look forward to the most about going back to school?

When teachers do the talking on the first day, they often go over classroom rules so you’ll know what’s allowed and what’s not. Pay close attention so you’ll know if you need to raise your hand to ask a question and what the rules are about visiting the restroom.

You might already know a lot of kids in your classes on the first day. But it’s a great day to make a new friend, so try to say hello to kids you know and new ones that you don’t. Make the first move and you’ll be glad you did and so will your new friend!

Moving to Middle School?

Sixth grade often signals a move to middle school or junior high, where you’ll find lockers and maybe a homeroom. This is just what it sounds like — a classroom you’ll go to each morning, kind of like your home in the school. In middle school, you might move from classroom to classroom for each subject. Your teachers know that this is a big change from elementary school and will help you adjust.

Most teachers let you pick your own seat on the first day, but by the second or third morning, they’ll have mapped out a seating plan. At first, it’s a good idea to write down where your seat is in your notebook so you don’t forget.

Feeling Good on Day One

Seeing friends you haven’t seen in a while can make the first day a good one. You also can make the day feel special by wearing an outfit you like. Maybe you got a great T-shirt on vacation, or your new sneakers put a spring in your step. If you wear a uniform, you might wear a favorite watch, a new hair band, or a piece of jewelry to show your personal style.

It can make you feel good to be prepared and have all the supplies you need. Some schools distribute supply lists before the year begins, so you can come stocked up on pencils, folders, and whatever else you’ll be needing. Once you’ve covered the basics, you might tuck an extra few dollars in your backpack for an emergency (like forgetting your lunch money). Or maybe you’d like to bring along a book or magazine to read while you’re on the bus.

Whatever you put in your backpack, make sure you pack it the night before. This prevents the morning panic when you can’t find your homework or lunch box. Speaking of lunch, that’s something else that can help you feel good at school — whether it’s the first day or the 100th day. Help your parents pack it the night before if you don’t like what’s on the menu at the cafeteria. Try to include a variety of foods in your packed lunch, especially fruits and vegetables.

Get Oriented

The first day of school is your first chance to find your way around a new school, or learn the pathways to new classes in your old school. It’s a lot to learn in one day, so don’t be surprised if you need a reminder or two.

It might help to write a few notes to yourself, so you’ll remember the important stuff, like your locker combination and that lunch starts at 11:43, not 12:10. Before you know it, your fingers will fly as you open your locker and you won’t have to check your notes to know what time lunch starts!

A Bad Start?

What if you hate school by the end of day one? Teachers recommend giving things some time to sort themselves out — once you know your way around the building and get adjusted to the new routine, you’ll probably feel better. If those feelings don’t fade, talk to your mom, dad, teacher, or school counselor.

Here are a few final tips for a fantastic school year:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Try your best.
  • Use good work habits, like writing down your assignments and turning in your homework on time.
  • Take your time with school work. If you don’t understand something, ask the teacher.
  • Keep a sense of humor. One teacher we know shows his new students a picture of himself graduating high school — a grinning ape in a red graduation cap and gown. This usually makes the kids laugh, and it’s a good way to remind them that school is fun!
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD



Edutopia Making a Difference

Find out how Edutopia and Lucas Education Research are having an impact.

Go to their Website at:


Edutopia vision is of a new world of learning based on the compelling truth that improving education is the key to the survival of the human race.

It’s a world of creativity, inspiration and ambition informed by real-world evidence and experience. It’s a world where students become lifelong learners and develop 21st-century skills. It’s a world where innovation is the rule, not the exception. It’s a world where schools provide rigorous project-based learning, social-emotional learning, and access to new technology. It’s a world where students and parents, teachers and administrators, policy makers and the people they serve are all empowered with a shared vision to change education for the better.

We call this place Edutopia, and we provide not just the vision for this new world of learning but the real-world information and community connections to make it a reality.

Our Mission

We are dedicated to transforming kindergarten through 12th-grade (K-12) education so all students can thrive in their studies, careers, and adult lives. We are focused on practices and programs that help students acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, skills and beliefs to achieve their full potential.

What We Do

1. Edutopia is the leading voice illuminating and showcasing what works in education. We show people how they can adopt best practices and we tell stories of innovation and continuous learning in the real world.

2. At Lucas Education Research, we develop and evaluate methods that profoundly impact the course of learning and lifelong achievement. Lucas Education Research strives for quality, replicability, and scalability.

To understand more about why we are passionate about our work, read about Edutopia’s Core Strategies and about what our founder and chairman, George Lucas, has to say about Edutopia’s role in education.

Please note: The Foundation is a nonpartisan organization, and does not take positions on any legislation or ballot measures, nor does it endorse or oppose any candidates in elections to public office.

109 thoughts on “Back To School”

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