Learning on Holiday


This weekend, for my 40th birthday, our family is headed on a grand adventure to Hawaii. The last couple weeks have been spent gathering teaching material and creating fun projects for my 3, 5 and 7 year old children.  In order to make the most of space, I’ve tried to come up with projects that don’t require a lot of storage but still spark creativity. During our trip, I plan to blog about our family learning adventures.  We hope to travel and learn on the go creating a classroom without walls. We are excited about the learning possibilities and adventures we will have with our kids!  Here are some of the projects I’ve created, so far.

Travel Journals 

With the different age levels in mind, I created personalized journals.  Designed not to be to labor intensive, I want the children to be excited and enjoy writing in their logs. For my preschool child, he can circle the type of activity & weather and rate the day.  Then he can draw a simple picture while I write down one sentence about his drawing. For my kindergartener she can also circle the type of activity, weather and rate the date. Additionally there is a space for a picture and sentence prompts for details about each day. For my 2nd grade child, I have the same as the 5 year old but with words rather then emoticons to rate the day.

This year, I bound each of their journals into a fun personal book.  First, I added a blank page to each side of the book.  I then hauled out my sewing machine and stitched one side of the book for a spine. Using a sticky back foam pages, I attached it one to the front and the second to the back to create the cover.  Using patterned duct tape, I reinforced around the outside cover for a finished look. Originally I was just going to tape the spine, however the sticky foam continued have edges that popped up and I figured this would make it easy for children to take the book apart.  So, I ended up taping around each side.

Learning Modules

The teachers are sending home some of the material they are covering in class but this holiday gives me the opportunity come up with create projects and writing prompts for my students. So with that in mind, I created different modules for three children.

1st up is my preschooler.  Found on Mrs. D’s Corner, I absolutely love her morning work binder.  I purchased, downloaded and modified to fit my little one’s needs.  In this binder, I have practice for learning to spell his name, his street address, phone number and understanding weather.  To add to this idea, I designed suitcases that I laminated for all my kids to practice packing according the season, putting the months and days in order and housing their personal information for the velcro sheets.  Towards the back of the binder, I also found some fantastic clip art story boards to use with dry erase markers.

Each of the girls have a binder/folder filled with projects and activities. There is music and movement, a Hawaii Glyph, a short play, reading comprehension for the older and following directions for the younger.  I’ve also included a variety of working with words and language development for each girls designed for their level.  Each girl has a daily activity that I used a few years ago while teaching in Colorado. This one page is chalk filled with daily math uses.  There is number of the day with ten frames, hundred charts, calendar, patters, temperature, clock, analogies and either sentence editing or site word practice.  Then, there is my favorite section, writing lessons.

Writing Projects

During our time away, I have created a variety of writing prompts themed for our time on the island.  There is a prompt for creative stories, procedural writing and comic.  I also created a movie strip from a suitcase to design a picture story.  Each prompt can be used for a variety of levels by offering more or less help when writing stories.  I am also taking a few blank books for when inspiration hits or to save brochures and pictures from the island.


Our evening routine is not complete without story-time.  With that in mind, I looked for island themed books.  Here are some of the Hawaii books we found. Some are on kindle with others are paperback.



Learn through Play -Topic Sentences and Transitions

img_3505Designing a meaningful and eloquent topic sentence sets the tone for the entire expository or narrative essay.  Wouldn’t it be nice to take the guess work out of creating such a sentence while at the same time having fun?   Read this post, I have designed activities that will encourage your writers to do just that; learn through play while creating topic sentences.

Spin the Wheel


Struggling to get your student to draft a topic sentence? Consider downloading this engaging tool.  Divided into eight sections, writers will explore seven styles of topic sentences. The eighth space is reserve for personal choice to allow freedom of expression.  Download this wheel on Venture2Learn’s Etsy Page. 

How could you employ this wheel in the classroom or at home? First, have them spin for a specific style of sentence to adopt in their essay.  The classroom writing center could also benefit from this wheel as a quick reference tool for identifying and writing topic sentences. Or, perhaps you will use this as a game to promote fun with writing. Clearly there are many ways to use this handy wheel but most importantly students will be engaged having fun learning to draft beginning sentences. The following topic sentences are covered in the wheel each with starter words and an example:

  • Love to List
  • Number Power
  • Preposition Ponder
  • Quick Question
  • Conjunction Junction
  • Verb Vernacular
  • Complex Sentences
Fun with Writing Game Board

Bring back the fun in writing with a game! Designed just this week to incorporate skills for writing, this short but fun game can be used as a writing center, home school lesson or learning tool. Divided into four categories, questions are grouped into four colors and ready to print on avery 5160 labels.  Just download print and stick to notecards, paper or simply cut into rectangles to have an easy and creative game.  Surprises await the learners on various note cards. Giggles and fun are guaranteed as kids play this game. Expect the unexpected! Find this game in my Venture2Learn’s Etsy Page. Categories covered are:

  • Topic Sentences
  • Transitions
  • Details and Idea Jogger
  • Fun with Writing
Transition Stickers


Use this adorable printable tool as a visual for kids working on their transitions. Using the tag line “transitons are the glue”(Auman, Karas, Sage & Tyler, 2003), I have placed transition words onto labels (avery 5160) for stickers.  Or, simply print and have kids paste these transitions into their journals.  For further clarity, the first 15 glue bottles are traditionally used with procedural writing while the second 15 bottles are for use with narrative stories.  Help kids get a kick start on blending their stories together with these delightful glue bottle stickers. Download this tool on Venture2Learn’s Etsy Page. 

Creative Transition Manipulatives


What are manipulatives?  These tools, most often used with math, reading and science are small objects used to cement visual understanding and assist in solving problems.  Why not use them to help teach transitions? Try one of these items with the following tagline:

  • Cubes: Connect your writing with transitions
  • Links: Link your story together with transitions
  • Buttons:  Button up your story with colorful transitions.

Have a handful of cubes laying around?  Use stickers or write transition words directly onto the cubes. If you’re not looking for something permanent, use a vis-a-vie or an expo marker. For links, print the stickers and wrap them around the tool. Buttons are an also easy to write on with a vis-a-vi or place a small sticker.  These manipulative are a fun, creative and interactive way to blend transitons into your writing.



In another post, I will cover conclusions in depth.  However, as a side note, I like to outline my conclusion before I begin drafting, just after I have written my topic sentence. Why?  Doing so allows me to see and set the goal of my paper.  A conclusion is simply revisiting the beginning the writing.  Yes, it differs from narrative to expository as I will explore more. But, for now try using one of the following transitions to reword your topic sentence, thereby sketching out your conclusion. Find this printable on Venture2Learn’s Etsy Page. 

Expository (revisit the topic sentence)

  • Consequently
  • Finally
  • Third

Narrative (revisit a character, or share a feeling)

  • As a result
  • Finally
  • Afterwards
Have Fun!

Cultivate positive, excited momentum for young writers as they learn to write clear, concise topic sentence and create fluidity with transitons.Enjoy trying out these activities and games to embrace the fun and enjoyment of the writing process.

Works Referenced:

*Auman, Maureen E., Karas, Gwen., Sage, Peg., Tyler, Caela. 2003. Primary Steps Reproducibles, Step-Up to Writing 2nd Edition. Longmont, Colorado. Sopris West.

*Auman, Maureen E. 2003. Step-Up to Writing. Longmont, Colorado. Sopris West.