Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tips to Preparing for MAP Testing

The Measure of Academic Progress -- or MAP as it is generally known-- is a computer-generated test. The MAP was designed to measure primary student-level knowledge in reading and math. Each student takes a unique test because the program is designed to ask progressively more difficult questions if a student answers correctly, or ask easier ones if the opposite is true. The results of the MAP tests help students, parents and educators plan accordingly

Involving all the stakeholders -- students, parents, teachers, administrators -- presents a "united front" in preparing for the MAP. Everyone's being actively involved in the lead-up to the MAP test will result in less stress and higher scores. Working with the free online preparation tests will help parents better understand the standardized test their child is taking.
If parents help their children with their homework and monitor the progress, students will develop a better knowledge base. The math section, for example, assesses general math as well as concepts and processes.
Math Practice - Ages 5-15 - A math website kids LOVE — Win awards, certificates, have fun!
Focus on when the test are taken. In grades 1 to 5, mathematics, reading and language usage are tested.
With online practice tests, students can become familiar with the format and the expectations. Students need to understand how to answer multiple-choice questions on a computer generated test. For example, they can click on different answers, but once they press "go" they cannot change their minds. The more they practice with the genre, the more comfortable they will be with it.
In preparation for the MAP, suggest students get a good night's sleep and have breakfast before taking the tests. Like any activity that requires mental concentration, the MAP is best taken when refreshed.
Select a link below (math or reading practice) and click on the score ranges your child received on the last MAP assessment.  (Please contact your child’s teacher if you do not know your child's last MAP scores.) This will direct you to leveled activities that are appropriate practice for upcoming MAP assessments.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Activities for Kids to Change Their Attitude About Homework


Most children don’t like homework. As the end of the year comes closer, it may become especially hard for children to stay motivated into completing their daily homework, no matter how quick and easy it may be. For children who struggle in school and have difficulty learning concepts during the day, the last thing they want to do is come home to do more work. Unfortunately, the best way to reinforce and practice skills is by doing homework. Get children to change their attitude about doing homework by making it less overwhelming and more fun. Motivate your children and increase their self-esteem by taking the pain out of practicing and turn challenging work into opportunities to celebrate their success.


Positive reinforcement wins out over threats and punishment every time. Break down homework into smaller tasks and offer game time as a fun reward when each task or subject is completed. For instance, if your child likes playing computer games, tell her she can play her favorite game after all of her math homework is done. Set a time limit on the reward, so that the break is not too long. When break time is over, have your child move onto the next subject of her homework, with the promise of another chance at playing her game upon the task’s completion. You can even give out tokens, like they do at popular amusement facilities, for each block of homework completed. In addition to turning the tokens in for game time, you can exchange them for small, inexpensive toys or other predetermined rewards that your child will appreciate. Sometimes, the promise of spending fun family time with your child is the best reward of all.

You may also want to include a motivational chart in which your child earns daily points or rewards when homework is completed in a timely fashion. The reward may be a weekend treat of the child’s choice which can be enjoyed by all the family.



Show your child how to use a daily visual planner, or break down long-term homework assignments into steps with various due dates. Prioritize the more urgent tasks and put the easiest tasks at the front of the list. The more you can organize your child’s homework schedule, the less daunting the tasks will seem to him. Have your child check off each assignment as it is completed. Empower your child by emphasizing how much he’s getting accomplished and praise his organizational efforts.



Combine math homework with snacks by creating games that include small candies, cut-up sandwiches or pizza. You can teach math concepts such as fractions or geometry by cutting shapes out of food or organizing the snacks in visually appealing patterns. It’s also easier to get through homework on a full stomach than an empty one. Offer a snack before homework is started to avoid unnecessary interruptions or distractions. 


Study Buddies

Allow your child to invite a friend over to work on homework together. Make sure the children are working at a steady pace, but allow them to play once their homework is completed. Be available to answer questions or provide help if either child gets stuck.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


· Bagel or English muffin pizza

· Peanut butter on a mini bagel or English muffin

· Shaker pudding. Pour 2 cups of milk into a jar with a lid, add 1 small box instant pudding mix, and shake for one minute.

· Tortilla rollups. Roll a tortilla with shredded cheese, microwave until cheese is soft, and dip in salsa.

· Cereal topped with fruit and milk

· Cheese and crackers

· String Cheese

· Whole grain crackers

· Crackers with peanut butter or jelly

· Yogurt cups

· Fruited yogurt topped with granola

· Cut-up vegetables dipped in low-fat ranch salad dressing

· Sunflower seeds

· Banana pops. Peel a banana, dip it first in yogurt and then in crushed breakfast cereal or granola; freeze.

· Celery with low-fat cream cheese

· Peanut butter on graham crackers

· Fresh fruit (cut up and ready in a bowl, easy to grab and eat)

· Breakfast bars

· Banana or apple topped with peanut butter

· Fruit shake-up. Put ½ cup low-fat yogurt and 1/2 cup cold fruit juice in an unbreakable, covered container. Shake it up and pour it in a cup.

· Pudding cups

· Applesauce cups

· Fruit roll-ups or fruit leather

· Raisin boxes or other dried fruit

· Unfrosted strawberry or blueberry Pop Tarts

· Cereal/small cereal boxes

· Animal crackers

· Fig bars

· Vanilla wafers

· Pretzel sticks

· Mini bagel chips

· Flavored rice cakes

· Nuts

· Trail mix

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Identification - Kids love snacks. They pack snacks in lunchboxes to eat during recess at school. They expect to get a snack as soon as they get home from school before starting their homework. While commercials for snack foods, sugar-coated cereals, candies and chips provide the revenue streams for many programs directed toward children on television, they often market snacks that are not good for kids. Good snacks for kids share several common characteristics. They should be delicious, nutritious, not messy, colorful and easy to store. Finger foods prepared in advance that require no refrigeration or cooking make some of the best snacks for kids.

Expert Insight - A good resource to use when planning snacks for kids is the United States Department of Agriculture's "My Pyramid" for preschoolers. It recommends that children eat 3 oz. of grains every day. They should also eat "more dark green vegetables" like broccoli, spinach and other greens. These can be added to the other recommendation, "more orange vegetables," such as carrots and sweet potatoes. Kids who are given an assortment of vegetables along with a low-fat dressing as dip can be encouraged to make a design out of the foods before eating them. (If you take digital pictures of the finished artwork, the snack becomes even more fun.)

Types - "My Pyramid" also suggests that kids eat a wide variety of fruits but not a lot of fruit juice. Raw and dried fruits served with a fruit yogurt make similar hands-on fun and edible art. You can even fill an ice-cream cone with a scoop of canned fruit salad mixed with a spoonful of yogurt. The traditional party game, bobbing for apples, makes a fun snack experience as well. All it takes is a bit of creativity and a refusal to serve empty calories that come pre-packaged and appeal to children--not because they are healthy and delicious--but because they have cute characters on the boxes and in the commercials.

Vegetable Snack Idea - Ants on a Log is one easy-to-prepare snack that kids love. They can even make it themselves. First, cut celery stalks into sticks that are each about 3 inches long. Then spread a small amount of peanut butter on each celery stick. If your child has a peanut allergy, substitute low-fat, whipped cream cheese for the peanut butter. Place five raisins on top of the peanut butter on each celery stick. This snack provides a raw vegetable, a dried fruit and a nut.

Fruit Snack Idea - Monkeys' Tails are another snack that children love to eat. They must be prepared in advance, though. Since they are frozen, they are a great choice for a hot day. Peel one banana for every two children. Insert a Popsicle stick into the banana so that it can be held like an ice-cream pop. Roll the banana in hot fudge sauce. Then roll the banana in chopped nuts or toasted coconut. Freeze the banana for about a half hour. Serve cold. Again, this is a good snack for kids because it provides a fruit that is easy to prepare and doesn't make a mess when the children are eating.

Benefits - Even kids who do not usually eat vegetables or fruit can be coaxed to try either of these snacks because their names engage the imagination. If you serve Ants on a Log, for example, you can sing the old favorite children's marching song "The Ants Go Marching Two By Two...Hurrah, Hurrah." Then you can make up stories about why the ants are on the log anyway. When you serve Monkeys' Ta

ils, read one of the "Curious George" stories. Then have the children make up their own stories about how the monkey lost its tail.

Effects - "My Pyramid" also urges children to drink milk and to eat beans, nuts and lean meats. Good snacks for kids should use these recommendations. Serve a glass of milk instead of fruit punch. Provide bowls of mixed nuts unless you have children who suffer from peanut allergies, of course. Let the children roll up their own corn tortillas after spreading refried beans and grated cheese on top. Then dip them in individual bowls of fresh sweet-tomato salsa. You will soon find that snack time for kids becomes a great excuse for learning that also builds relationships and makes great memories at the same time.
For refreshing ideas on what to pack for your child in his or her lunchbox, visit the following websites: