Monthly Archives: March 2012

It’s Slime Time!

We know you’ve seen those Hollywood productions that have a ghost, ghoul or other alien creature dripping, drooling or slinging their green and gooey stuff all over the place. It’s disgusting, it’s messy, but for some reason, kids (and even some adults) love this kind of stuff. Well, now you can create your very own batch of green goo. The best part? It only takes four ingredients and under five minutes from start to finish!

What You Need

  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Elmer’s Glue-All Glue
  • 1/4 Cup Liquid Starch
  • Food Coloring (green, red, or whatever color you wish)

How To Make It

  • Pour 1/4 cup of glue and 1/4 of water into a ziplock bag or bowl. Knead or stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Add six drops of food coloring to mixture. Knead or stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Pour in 1/4 cup of liquid starch. Mix thoroughly. Mixture should be fairly blobby at the start, but the more you play with it the  more stretchy it will become and easier to hold.

The Science Lesson

Voila! You’re done! But how does it work? The glue is a liquid polymer. This means that the tiny molecules in the glue are in strands like a chain. When you add the liquid starch, the strands of the polymer glue hold together, giving it its slimy feel. The starch acts as a cross-linker that links all the polymer strands together.

Make sure you keep the slime in a ziplock bag or sealed container when you’re not playing with it to preserve it for future fun time!

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Lookey Who Just Won $20

We have a lucky {random} winner for our $20 School Box gift card drawing, from among A Learning Experience’s recent commenters.


Roni, who commented on “Creative Dr. Seuss Birthday Ideas {It’s March 2!}”


These are great ideas! I just love the Thing 1 Thing 2 paper bag craft!!

You can see all comments on this post here.

Congrats, Roni! Enjoy that gift card. Want to take a perusal through The School Box’s virtual shelves? Check out their newly spiffed website. Super spiff!

{And is it just us, or is there something really funny about the lady above? I have a feeling she didn’t just win a School Box gift card. Just a feeling.}

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DIY Scratch-Off Card {love this!}

Looking for a unique Mother’s Day gift idea? Or a fun post-testing diversion? Or a creative way to review for the next big test? Check out this cool idea from Diane Burdick, M. Ed. 

{And let us know what you think. A comment below could land you a $20 School Box gift card. We like to reward loud mouths.}

If you’ve ever received a scratch-off card in the mail, you know the anticipation of selecting a spot and rubbing the coating off the paper…all in hopes of winning a special prize or discount. If you think those scratch-offs are only for the retail-minded or lottery-blinded among us, think again. Scratch-off solution is something you can make at home or school to create a fun craft activity (or greeting card) with your children.



Drawing materials


Contact paper (clear)

Dishwashing liquid

Metallic acrylic paint (from the craft store)

Small, flat paintbrush

Here’s how to make a greeting card:
Other options below, too. 

  • Create a card out of cardstock by folding the cardstock in half.
  • Decorate the card with a design, and then think of a message that could have three possible answers. For example, the outside of the card might say, “Guess how much I love you?” Then, inside, draw three circles. Inside one, write “To the Moon.” In another, write “To the Moon and Back.” And in the final circle, write “To Infinity and Beyond.” You will cover these three circles with scratch-off solution.
  • To make the solution, mix together one part dishwashing liquid with two parts metallic-colored acrylic paint in a disposable cup.
  • Apply a thin coat of paint to the contact paper with a small, flat paintbrush.
  • Allow the paint to dry for at least one hour, and then reapply one to two coats until paint is not streaky, allowing to dry between coats.
  • Cut the painted contact paper to the appropriate size and shape (so, circles in this case). Then peel the backing off the contact paper and apply the painted “stickers” to the correct spots on the card.
  • Make sure to put a penny down in the envelope with the card, so the recipient can scratch off their choice and see the message underneath.

Other Fun Options:

  • Reward Cards! Make scratch-off reward cards for your class. Using notecards, write various rewards on each (extra computer time, skip one problem on Math homework, serve in a class leadership role, bring a stuffed animal to school, etc.) Distribute the cards to deserving students, and let them scratch off to discover their reward. Students LOVE this!
  • Review Game. You can make up your own version of scratch-off bingo using cards you make, customized to your lessons.
  • Coupon Book. Instead of a traditional coupon book for Mother’s, Father’s or Grandparent’s Days, help students create a scratch-off card with chores the child can do or sweet messages the child writes.
  • Teacher Cards. Parents: create a card for your child’s teacher that lets the recipient choose a scratch-off square (or two) listing helpful things your student could do for the teacher. Include age-appropriate tasks, such as empty the pencil sharpener, erase the board, pick up trash from the floor, or collect trash after snack.
  • Principal Thanks. Or create a similar card for the principal, sharing the child’s favorite things about the school: What do I love most about P.S. 212 Elementary School? The teachers are nice (one scratch-off square), the playground is really fun (another), the principal is the best ever!! (the final option).

So cool, right? We’ve even seen scratch-offs used in wedding save-the-date cards, bridal and baby shower invitations, and shower games. So, now that you know how to make your own, go get crafty!

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Filed under Activities, Art, Behavior Management, Holidays, Study Skills, Test Prep

Testing made {much} better, Part II

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box Gift Card!

This is part two in a two-part series by Diane Burdick, M. Ed. For part one, click here. 

Ahhh, spring: swaying daffodils, refreshingly warm days, welcomed longer afternoons…and tests, tests, tests. Although standardized tests are extremely important, they shouldn’t strike fear or dread into the hearts of your students. Instead of hitting the all-panic button come testtime, help your student feel confident and prepared with these helpful hints.

Consider the Senses

Come test day, make sure your classroom is as sensory-friendly as possible.

Temperature: Adjust the temp so it’s not too warm or cold, and encourage students to bring a removable sweater or sweatshirt to regulate their own temp, as well.

Sound: If you have any overhead lights that buzz, try to get them fixed before testing (buzzing lights can particularly be distracting for students with learning and processing weaknesses). Refrain from playing any music during testing, even classical. While it may be great to play quiet melodies beforehand or during stretching breaks, any music at all may be very distracting to students…even if it’s calming (and even if research says it makes them smarter).

Sight: Between tests, encourage students to look up and look around, to give their bleary eyes a break from small type.

Stretching: Get up, stretch legs, reach for the ceiling…any small physical movements will help loosen the limbs and energize the brain between test sections. Another good activity: Have students stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Using their right hand, have them make large, figure-eight swoops in the air in front of them, straightening their arm out completely. Crossing the midline (middle of their bodies) with their arm in a coordinated motion causes the brain hemispheres to fire simultaneously– another good brain exercise. Then, switch arms.

Tips for Parents: Ensure your student has a distraction-free study area where he can dedicate himself to studying for the tests. Look for a study zone that has good lighting and is neither too light nor too dark. Monitor the temperature of the location too, wear appropriate clothing or adjust the temperature so that the student is neither too hot nor too cold. Select a comfortable spot with supplies on-hand, but be sure to take frequent breaks to give your student’s mind a rest. Let him stand up every once in a while and stretch to keep his body and mind attentive.

Fuel Up

Don’t let a growing tummy become a distraction on the big day of the test. Help students start their day out right with some healthy food, and perhaps provide a nut-free high-protein or complex carb snack during a testing break.

Tips for Parents: 

• Serve up scrambled eggs. They’re full choline and vitamin B, and have a boost of protein too.

• Feed ‘em fruit. Look for something high in fiber, such as apples to help sweeten the meal without adding artificial sugar.

• Mega multigrains. Instead of sweetened cereal, serve up high-fiber to you’re your kid’s brain working and tummy full. Look for cereals with whole grains, such as muesli-type or flakes without the artificial sweeteners. Top it with milk and some blue berries for extra boost of flavor antioxidants.

Then, grab some oj (high in folic acid and vitamin C) and toast to a happy, healthy test week!

For more testing resources, click here. 


Kanar, C. (2011). The confident student. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

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Testing…made {much} better, Part I

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box Gift Card!

This is part 1 in a two-part series by Diane Burdick, M. Ed.

Ahhh, spring: swaying daffodils, refreshingly warm days, welcomed longer afternoons…and tests, tests, tests. Although standardized tests are extremely important, they shouldn’t strike dread into the hearts of your students. Instead of hitting the all-panic button come testtime, help your students (and parents!) feel confident and prepared with these helpful hints.

One Bite at a Time

We all know how to eat an elephant, and it’s not all at once. Similarly, don’t spend the week before testing cramming with your class; rather, review both daily and weekly. Incorporate concepts into several simple “Morning Work” problems for your students to solve when they enter the class each day. You can write questions or equations on the board or have a simple practice sheet waiting on student desks. Steady, consistent review is better for both long-term memory…and everyone’s nerves.

Tips for Parents: Ask your child’s teacher for a list of concepts to review or information about the test format. For example, will your student be required to fill in answers or will the questions be mostly multiple choice? Even going over this simple fact with children helps them feel calm when the test is finally placed in front of them.

Study Helps

Use graphic organizers, charts and diagrams to help students visualize the answers to study questions. When possible, use alliteration or rhymes to help students remember key points.

Consider using the SQ3R technique— Survey, Question, Record, Retain, and Recall — to enhance comprehension memorization. Click here for detailed direction on how SQ3R works; it’s a great way to transfer information to long-term memory!

Tips for Parents: Check out the veritable slew of research-based test-prep workbooks and activities at your local school supply store. These from The School Box are some favorites:

  1. Georgia CRCT Prep Books (they sell books by state!) $15.95
  2. Carson-Delosa testing prep books, by grade level. These workbooks contain strategies and practice activities that will greatly increase student confidence and familiarity with the test format and content. Love them! $12.99
  3. Core Skills Test Preparation workbooks from Harcourt School Supply, by grade level: another great set of skill-specific practice pages to help build mastery and strengthen reading comprehension. $9.99
Just a few practice sheets a week can make a world of difference both in reviewing skills and in helping kids feel on top of their game come test morning.
Two more helpful guidelines will be shared in the next article in this two-part series!


Kanar, C. (2011). The confident student. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

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Filed under Academic Success, Reading, Study Skills, Test Prep