Dramatic Play

Dramatic Play is an amazing way to teach your child important social skills, build empathy, and expose them to the fun elements of real-life situations.  These themed activities encourage them to ask questions, make connections and learn more about the world around them.  The materials I use are usually toys/books we already have, painted amazon boxes, and Dollar Store finds.

For each theme day I try to incorporate 5 elements to give my kids a multi-faceted experience.  These five elements include:

  • Reading- I choose 3-5 books related to the theme, and with varying degrees of difficulty.  For example, I will pick a board book with flaps for them to explore independently, as well as a longer book that I read aloud.
  • Games- Including games is a great way to get kids excited about the theme.  They can be age appropriate board games, or even games you make-up, like a moon rock (balls of foil) collecting race. 
  • Activities- The activities are always something they can explore independently, such as playing with figurines (to theme of course), collecting eggs from a cardboard chicken coop, or feeding animals with see through bellies. 
  • Felt Board Story- Choosing a felt board story that fits the theme is easy and gives the student time to sit and interact with a teacher/parent led activity.  This can include a poem, song, or story.  I always encourage the kids to take part in the story by adding or taking away elements from the board. 
  • Craft- Painting, Gluing, Molding, and Coloring?!  What’s not to love?!  Generally, I save the craft for the end and usually serve a snack while they work.  For toddlers, I love a good Contact Paper craft, as it keeps the mess and glue eating to a minimum (post coming soon).

Timing wise, I like to introduce the kids to the space when it is completely set up.  This means that it’s either the first activity in the morning, or after their afternoon nap.  I also recommend letting them explore independently at first, letting them lead you through the sections that interest them the most. 

Here are some pictures from some of the fun theme days we’ve had!

5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Tutoring Sessions

Hiring a tutor is a great way to help your child achieve educational success, instill healthy work habits, and assist them in areas that may prove difficult.  Here are 5 ways you can get the most out of your tutoring sessions:

  1. Homework Help – A common reason that tutors are brought in, is to assist students with their homework.  Assess how much homework your student has and plan the sessions accordingly.  A good rule of thumb to go by is the 10 minute rule. Education Week explains that, “Children should have no more than 10 minutes of homework each day for each grade reached. In 1st grade, children should have 10 minutes of daily homework; in 2nd grade, 20 minutes; and so on to the 12th grade, when on average they should have 120 minutes of homework each day.”  If your student is in elementary school, it is reasonable to expect them to complete all of their homework with the tutor, and still have time to go over study habits, learning tools, and time management skills.  If your student is at the middle school and high school level, have them complete the majority of their homework prior to the tutor’s arrival so that they will have time to review, correct, and fine tune the student’s work.
  2. Planning and Scheduling – Another great reason parents bring in a tutor is to help organize their child’s work week.  This includes checking grades, planning make-up work, and creating schedules to make sure tests and projects are prepared for appropriately.  Usually, my first order of business in a session is to check grades for any missing assignments, and then to shuffle through Google Classrooms and student planners to see what the student has for the day/week.  As a parent, a better way to expedite this process and use the session more efficiently, is to have your child organize all their worksheets, books, etc. on the table prior to the tutor’s arrival.  Having your child check in on their grades regularly is also a valuable habit that will keep them accountable and build responsibility.  
  3. Internet vs. Textbook – Now, I say this to my students at least twice a week (not an exaggeration):  When completing a study guide, or chapter review USE THE TEXTBOOK and not the internet. The internet is a valuable research tool, however, it also provides a wide range of answers that may not necessarily suit the context of their assignment.  More times than not, the language on a test will match the language from the textbook, and studying the textbook will make it easier for a student to make connections and recall information during the actual exam.  Make it a habit for your student to have textbooks available during tutoring sessions.. 
  4. Prioritize the Workload – I always feel guilty (and antsy) when I have to use half, or all, of a session watching a student write an essay, or complete a reading assignment. Have your child complete any “busy work” prior to the tutor’s arrival, so the session may be spent on editing, discussing essay elements, and the thousands of other topics that are more beneficial to your student than someone leaning over their shoulder as they type.   
  5. IEP’s and Transparency – Tutors are a great resource for students with learning disabilities, Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), and any other obstacles that make it difficult to keep up with the class load.  Be transparent with your tutor about any testing that your child has undergone, and the details of their IEP if they have one.  I have attended IEP meetings with parents and have emailed teachers on numerous occasions when I felt that they had not understood (or abided to) the outline of the student’s IEP.  We can be your extra set of eyes and act as an advocate for your child inside and out of the classroom.
  6. Emphasizing Accountability – As a tutor, I have to walk the fine line between not telling parents how they should set values and disciplinary limits for their children, and still holding my ground when I feel like my services are being used for the detriment of the student’s educational future.  This includes walking out when a student repeatedly falls through on completing assignments prior to my arrival because, “I figure you would just do it with (he meant ‘for’) me.”  I will always pack the most I can into a session, however, the underlying goal is always to improve on a student’s knowledge base and create positive habits. Set high expectations for your child, and work as a team to achieve them. 



Literary Devices

Using Literary Devices in your writing is a great way to hook your reader and help them find a connection to your storyline. As a reader, literary devices help you visualize and feel the plot, the characters, and the setting. Checkout this PowerPoint for an introduction to some literary devices that will take your writing to the next level.

Summer Reading & Writing Workshop

The Home Classroom’s Summer Reading & Writing Workshop

            The Home Classroom’s 5 week Literature Workshop is the perfect way to maintain and improve your student’s writing and reading comprehension skills over the summer months.  The workshop focuses on one book per grade, engaging students in group discussions, literature analysis, and weekly writing assignments.  Our writing assignments are geared to improve your student’s short answer and essay writing skills.  By the end of the workshop, each student will have completed:

  • 5 weekly short writing assignments (via Google Classroom)
  • Weekly plot and analysis questions and worksheets (focusing on citing evidence and themes)
  • 5 weekly Web lectures (via eztalks web conferencing)
  • Weekly Vocabulary work (Quizlet)
  • One book from their incoming grade summer reading list

Program Cost: $130

Email: elizalaneteach@gmail.com to register

The book selections for this summer are as follows:

  • 5thGrade – Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan  
  • 6thGrade – Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  • 7thGrade – The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • 8thGrade – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • 9thGrade – Lord of the Flies by 
  • 10thGrade – Holes by Louis Sacher

Trip Around the World

My “Trip Around the World” month was a school favorite when I was teaching in the classroom.  Every few days we would “travel” to a new country and explore the food, sites, and culture.  I incorporated writing, reading, math, and science lessons into each stop, and my students had a blast.

At home, the lessons can be even more detailed and customized to your student.  You can also include mini field trips that may be appropriate to the lesson.  Going to Australia?  Why not visit the local aquarium to get find some of the animals that live in the Great Barrier Reef!  Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers to download a free lesson plan for one leg of the trip, and enjoy the free Passport Page I’ve uploaded here!

Teachers Pay Teachers Store Link:


Passport Page Download:

Passport cover page



Writing with Your Senses

Descriptive Writing can be one of the most difficult skills for students to master. The great news is that descriptive writing can be used across the subject board. Students can write about the Science project they completed in class, or write a paragraph describing historical events for Social Studies.

One of my favorite descriptive writing exercises is having students use their 5 senses to write about an experience. Ask students to dig into their memory of the event and write down what they saw, smelled, tasted, felt, and heard.

More Descriptive Writing Tips:

  • Create clear sentence guidelines and provide examples
  • Build a running list of adjectives and adverbs that the student can access while writing
  • Introduce Similes and Metaphors, and encourage students to use them in their writing practices
  • Practice often! Students should practice their writing skills everyday, which can include free writes, writing worksheets, and essay practice.

FREE WORKSHEET! I’ve attached my 5 Senses Descriptive Writing Worksheet for you to try with your student. Enjoy!


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