10 Cute Teacher Appreciation Gifts with Free Printables

Last updated on April 29th, 2019 at 03:51 pm

Enjoy these fun Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas with free printables! Download these pretty pdf files to create wonderful DIY gifts for your teachers. Find cute gift tags, thank you cards and more!

Enjoy these fun Teacher Appreciation Week Free Printables! Download these pretty pdf files to create wonderful gift ideas for your teachers. Find cute gift tags, thank you cards and more!

Cute Teacher Appreciation Gifts to thank a teacher!

Teacher Appreciation Week usually happens during the first week of May. With it being the end of the school year, we’re often super busy, but with these simple Teacher Appreciation Gifts with Free Printables, there is no reason NOT to show your children’s teachers thanks with a sweet gift.

I have designed a lot of free printables for back to school, printable thank you cards and gifts for teachers here at Living Locurto. To make it easy for you to find some printables to download fast, I have rounded up my favorite Teacher Appreciation free printables and gift ideas! You’ll also find a few more cute printables from some of my favorite blogs.

10 Simple Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Enjoy these Teacher Appreciation Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week.  Printables and fun gift ideas to thank your teachers!

Originally published April 30, 2013


1. Thank You Teacher Cards and Tags

Cute Owl Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea. 10 Cute Teacher Appreciation Gifts with Free Printables

These sweet owl Thank You Teacher Free Printable Cards & Tags are adorable!


2. Thanks You’re Sweet Goodie Bag Tags

10 Cute Teacher Appreciation Gifts with Free Printables - Thank You Free Printable Tags. Teacher Appreciation Free Printables. Download pretty pdf files to create gift ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week.

These Thank You Free Printable Labels for plastic baggie treats are one of my most popular designs!


3. Summer Send Off Teacher Gift

10 Cute Teacher Appreciation Gifts with Free Printables. Summer Fun Tote Bag with Free Printable Tags.

Enjoy Free Printable Tags for a Cute Summer Send Off Teacher Gift!


4. Thank You For Helping Me Grow gift tags 

Easy Teacher Appreciation Gifts! Thank you for helping me grow this year Free Printable Tags for a flower or plant. Teacher Appreciation Free Printables. LivingLocurto.com

Teacher “Thank You For Helping Me Grow” gift tags  are super cute along with a potted plant.


5. Teacher Gift Tags and Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes

Easy Teacher Appreciation Gifts! How to make the cutest Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes! Easy and fun Party or Gift Recipe. Comes with Free Printables for Teacher Gifts. Teacher Appreciation Free Printables. LivingLocurto.com

These adorable Teacher Appreciation Free Printable Gift Tags and Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes are always a huge hit up at school.


6. Simple Teacher Note Card

Easy Teacher Appreciation Gifts! Free Printables. Cute apple card for a teacher. Free PDF file

A simple Teacher Note Card is perfect to add to any teacher appreciation gift!


7. Bright Chevron Thank You Card & Tags

Free Printable Yellow Chevron Card & Tags. Teacher Appreciation Free Printables.

I always love these pretty yellow and white Chevron Thank You Card & Tags!


8. You’re Peachy Keen Free Printable Gift Tags

You're Peachy Keen! Free Printable Thank You Gift Tags! Teacher Appreciation Free Printables Gift Ideas

You’re Peachy Keen Free Printable Gift Tags are super cute and can go with just about any gift!

 9. Teacher Gift Card Holder

Teacher Appreciation Free Printables. Thank You Card by Paper and Pigtails.

This is a pretty card for a holding a Teacher’s Gift Card from Paper and Pigtails for Skip to My Lou.


10. Teacher Thank You Tags for Straws

Teacher Appreciation Free Printables. Thank You Tags by Lisa Storms

I love these cute Teacher Thank You Tags for Straws by Lisa Storms.

The post 10 Cute Teacher Appreciation Gifts with Free Printables appeared first on Living Locurto.

Days of the Week Closet Tags

Printable Days of the Week Closet Tags are a simple way to get organized for back to school and help kids get dressed on their own in the mornings!

Printable Days of the Week Closet Tags are a simple way to get organized for back to school and help kids get dressed on their own in the mornings!

Printable Days of the Week Closet Tags

I love this idea for Days of the Week Closet Tags that I came up with to help keep my kids organized and ready for school. It’s been a lifesaver! No more stressful mornings and my kids learned their days of the weeks at a very young age.

Getting organized for back to school and ready for my kid’s daily routines is a huge help for a busy mom like me. To make mornings much easier, we chose clothes for each day of the week and hung them on a low closet rack for my kids to reach. Then I designed some cute Days of the Week Tags to hang on each outfit’s hanger. The Days of the Week Closet Tags have the day of the week written out and a giant letter for kids not old enough to read.

Printable Days of the Week Closet Tags are a simple way to get organized for school and help kids get dressed on their own in the mornings! 

Originally Published on August 26, 2008

How the Days of the Week Closet Tags Work

To help you visualize how these tags work, I’m sharing a photo of my son’s closet from when he was in kindergarten. We still do this and he is now going into the 5th grade!

The night before school, he takes the designated outfit off of the hangers and lays it on the floor by his door. This way he won’t forget to get dressed before coming downstairs. We usually make silly poses with the clothes and that makes it even more fun!

Get organized for school with cute tags to help kids get dressed in the morning! LivingLocurto.com

These Days of the Week Closet Tags are also perfect for my daughter, because she can go a little crazy on the layering! This causes much less decision making stress in the morning! I designed the pastel pinks and purple Days of the Week tags for her closet.

More great ways to get organized for back to school:


Get Organized & Print the Days of the Week Closet Tags

Printable Days of the Week Closet Tags are a simple way to get organized for back to school and help kids get dressed on their own in the mornings! Print in primary colors or pastels. #organization #printables #kids #backtoschool #livinglocurto

Please visit my shop to buy these fun printable Days of the Week Closet Tags in primary or pastel colors. I hope this printable design helps you as much as it did me!

UPDATE: My son is now going into the 10th grade and I still use these!! LOL!! What’s great about a printable design is you keep the file and print as much as you like. Enjoy this one for years!

Click here to print Days of the Week Closet Tags


Printables By Amy - Party Supplies and Fun Printable Designs**IMPORTANT** If you have clicked here from a site featuring this as a free printable, sorry that freebie has been expired since 2010 (I created this design in 2008 and my readers enjoyed it free for over an entire year). You can purchase the tags here now at a very affordable price. – Thank you!


Days of the week closet tags to get kids organized for back to school.



The post Days of the Week Closet Tags appeared first on Living Locurto.

50 BEST Back to School Free Printables

Start the school year off right with over 50 of the BEST Back to School Free Printables!

50 Best Back to School Free Printables. Download amazing printable designs to help get organized for the school year.

Best Back to School Free Printables for kids!

These Back to School Free Printables are just what you need to get kids ready for school. From teacher gifts, lunch box notes, tags and labels, to free weekly calendars and free printable bookmarks you’re sure to find what you need.  I started this Back to School Free Printables list many years ago, and will add to it each year. FUN! It’s always nice to have a little help during the school year and these are some of the best printable ideas around.

These back to school free printables are great for the entire school year, so be sure to come back often to check for updates! If some of these printable links don’t work anymore, please let me know. Thanks and enjoy! -Amy


50 of the BEST Back to School Free Printables. Get ready for school with the BEST Back to School Free Printable downloads. Teacher gift ideas, lunch box notes, labels, calendars, bookmarks and more! LivingLocurto.com

Originally published September 8, 2008 

Enjoy these Back to School Free Printables

To help with planning ahead for school lunches, I designed a free printable lunch box weekly calendar. I also put together a free printable with 85 food ideas to add to a lunch box.

Free Printable School Lunch Box Planner with 85 Lunch Ideas. LivingLocurto.com



Enjoy Free Printable Morning Routine Cards to make back to school life easier with small children!

Kids Morning Routine Free Printable Flash Cards. Visuals to help kids be more responsible on their own. LivingLocurto.com

7 Back to School Free Printable Lunch Box Notes by Paper Crave

Back to School - Free Printable Lunch Notes by PaperCrave LivingLocurto.com



Cute Free printable school stickers from Paper Crave.

Free Printable School Stickers. Back to School tags by Paper Crave.


These Lunch Box Notes by a Blissful Nest are the perfect Back to School Free Printables!

Free Printable Lunch Box Notes by A Blissful Nest.




Free Printable 1st Day of School Signs for each grade by A Blissful Nest!

1st Day of School Photo Ideas. Free Printable Signs & Photo Booth by A Blissful Nest via LivingLocurto.com




Back to School Free Printable Teacher Gift Tags by Giggles Galore.

Back to School Free Printable Teacher Gift Tags


Out of this world customizable Free Printable Back to School Star Wars Legos Tags & Stickers.

Free Printable Star Wars Lego Backpack and lunch box Tags - Back to School Free Printables


School is Sweet Free Printable Cupcake Tags and book plates.

Back to School Free Printables - Cute Cupcake Backpack and lunch box tags.


After School Station with Free Printable Weekly Calendars

After School Station with Free Printable Weekly Calendars LivingLocurto.com


Simple Teacher Gift with Free Printable “You’re a Star” Tags.

DIY Teacher Gift in a Jar with Free Printable Tags. Kids Craft by Livinglocurto.com


Free Printable After School Routine Poster

Back to School Free Printables


Print on Post-It Notes! – Free Printables for School Homework

 Print on Post-It Notes! – Free Printables for School Homework by Livinglocurto.com


“Welcome Back!” Free Printable Bubble Labels for Teachers.

Back to School Free Printables


Thank You Teacher Free Printable Cards & Tags by Angeli.

Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea - Free Printable Owl Tags


Free Printable How Was Your Day School Notes for kids to fill out about their day.

School Notes Free Printable by Living Locurto


Free Printable Personalized School Snack Labels.

Free School Snack Labels - Back to School Free Printables


The cutest free printable back to school cupcake topper and wrapper by PaperGlitter.

Back to School Free Printables


Back to School Time Capsule Craft with Free Printable 1st Day of School Interview by Giggles Galore.

Back to School Time Capsule Craft by Giggles Galore at LivingLocurto.com


Back to School Teacher & Student Interview Card Free Printables

Back to School Free Printable Teacher Interview Cards by Parties for Pennies for LivingLocurto.com


Free Printable Teacher Thank You Notes & cute gift idea.

Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea - Free Printable Tags


Happy pencil free printable circle tag from PaperGlitter.

Happy Pencil Tags. Cute for cupcake toppers or lunch box notes. Back to School Free Printables


Easy craft ideas for back to school photos with free printables!

Back to School Free Printables


Free Printable Thank You Teacher Gift Tags and Ice Cream Sundae Cupcake Treats.

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcake Recipe - Free Party Printabels


Really cute Back to School Free Printable Photo Props via Tip Junkie.

Free Printable School Photo Props via Tip Junkie featured on Living Locurto


Eighteen25 designed these cute teacher gift labels for fortune cookie containers available for downloading over on HowDoesShe.

Cute teacher gift labels for fortune cookie containers. Back to School Free Printables


A cute back to school printable pack by Bird Crafts.

Back to School Free Printables


Cute Free Printable lunch box menus by Jennifer at Classic Play.

Cute Free Printable lunch box menus. Back to School Free Printables


Love these–>After School Conversation Cards from The Crafting Chicks

After School Conversation Cards - Back to School Free Printables



Janna Wilson made the cutest Free Printable Teacher Thank You labels.

Back to School Free Printables


And these Teacher Note Cards!

Back to School Free Printables


Amanda’s Parties to Go has a fun free printable back to school printable collection.

Back to School Free Party Printables


Oh my word, these school Lunch Bag Stickers from Martha Stewart are awesome!!

school Lunch Bag Stickers - Back to School Free Printables



Here are more cute back to school school stickers and book plates from Martha Stewart!

Cute back to school stickers and book plates. Back to School Free Printables


Magnetic Lunch Chart by Martha

Back to School Free Printables


Make some back to school crayon pretzel treats by Gourmet Mom on the Go. Mandy even has free printable labels!

crayons -Back to School Free Printables - fun food


Lunch Surveys by June Pfaff.

Cute School Lunch Surveys for kids! 50 of the BEST Back to School Free Printables



Back To School Sticker Sheers from Kaden’s Corner

Back to School Free Printables


Love book plates? You’ll love Blue Bird Lucy’s Ready for Fall Bookplates.

Back to School Free Printables


Print these handy teacher notes by Mommypalooza. She also has a good printable calendar if you use paper organizers.

Back to School Free Printables

A whole list of printable Lunch Notes

Back to School Free Printables


Lunch box notes, tags and stickers from Cindy Hopper via Alpha Mom.

Lunch box notes, tags and stickers for fruit. 50 of the best Back to School Free Printables


Babalisme’s cute school labels.

Back to School Free Printables


Free School Party printables featured on Catch My Party and Bird’s Party Blog.

Free Printables - Back To School Party   Free Printables - Back To School Party


Kids will love these sandwich wraps by Little Lovely and cute apple notes from One Charming Party.

Free School Sandwich Wrap Labels    Lunch Notes - free Printable


Find great free labels for school at Paper Glitter and One Charming Party.

Free School Labels    Free School Lunch Labels


Kim at The TomKat Studio also has adorable Teacher Thank You cards.


You’ll also love these Fun Food and Craft Back to School Ideas!!

Back to School Fun Food Bento Lunch at livinglocurto.com



Over 50 Amazing Free Printables for School! Get ready for school with the BEST Back to School Free Printable downloads for kids and moms. Teacher gift ideas, lunch box notes, labels, calendars, bookmarks and more!




The post 50 BEST Back to School Free Printables appeared first on Living Locurto.

5 Things Parents Should Know About End-Of-Year Testing

By Hilary Scharton, Vice President of K-12 Product Strategy for Canvas by Instructure

Every spring, schools across the nation give students millions of standardized tests.  Students sit for hours, filling in answer bubbles with their number two pencils for an exam that may span days.  They’re told the tests are “important”, they need to “do their best”, and that they have “one chance” to show what they’ve learned.  For any child–much less one with test anxiety, ADHD, or learning disabilities–it can be a painful process.

Should we let our students take these tests?  In 2015, over 650,000 students1 nationwide opted out of standardized tests. In some parts of the country, up to 20% of students did not participate.  What can a test tell us about how our kids are doing? Here are five things parents should know about end-of-year testing:


Tests don’t measure what we think they do

We expect tests to tell us how much students have learned.  However, significant evidence shows tests aren’t great at figuring out what you know or what your potential is.

Consider the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).  For many of us, it was a rite of passage that evaluated your entire school career and gave colleges a way to predict whether or not you’d be a successful student.  However, the best prediction you can make from an SAT is how much money your parents earn.2 Your score will go up 30 points for every $10,000 in your parents’ yearly income.  

In addition, scoring well on the SAT has almost no correlation with success in college.  The best predictor is high school grades.


Tests are designed to be efficient and compare groups

Most tests are designed to make efficient comparisons between groups, not tell us about individuals.  Group comparisons are valuable because they give us data about curriculum efficacy and how to allocate funding.

However, if we want efficient group measures, there are limitations.  These tests won’t cover every topic students learned and will need to be easy to give and grade.   

That means test authors have to use questions like multiple guess choice and leave out questions that might get at more important skills like critical thinking or creativity.  If you’re only doing multiple choice, you’re rewarding passive and superficial learning like memorizing facts or formulas.  When the last time was your job let you pick the right answer from a list?


Test prep is often antithetical to learning

In states where testing is king, it often comes with an emphasis on “accountability.”  The idea behind the accountability movement is that we, as taxpayers, should be able to ensure we’re getting the highest educational value for our tax dollar.  If that’s our ultimate goal, it makes sense to set up rewards (and penalties) so teachers and districts get the best performance possible from their students.

In these states, we see more time devoted to teaching test-taking skills.  Teachers and students learn which kinds of questions and topics are covered and dedicate class time to practice.  That’s not intended to game the system, but to give students tips about how to be a good test taker. (Ever learn that if you don’t know the right answer, pick B?  How often have you used that knowledge since you left school?)

The positive is that it usually works.  Students score a little better on the state exam.  However, research shows that states that focus on accountability perform much worse on nationwide and international tests than states that place less emphasis on accountability.  It turns out the time your teacher spent in class talking about answer B and #2 pencils would have been better spent teaching you more academic content.


Different tests tell us about individual learning

So if our current tests aren’t telling us what we need to know about individual students, what can we do?  In short, we need to do more testing, which sounds crazy.  We need to make sure we’re doing different kinds of testing so we get good group data AND good individual data.  We can best measure individual growth with authentic tests that are integrated into learning. Assessment is authentic when it asks students to apply their knowledge to real-world, meaningful problems.  

Imagine you’re back in geometry class and need to learn about volume.  Would you rather have your teacher tell you the formula and give you a worksheet to practice (how we’d learn if standardized test grades were the goal) or could you learn more if your teacher gave you a project to come up with a better juice box that minimized shipping costs and maximized profits?  

Likely the latter would not only make you more interested in learning about volume (“When will I ever use this?”), but you’d also have the opportunity to work on other important skills.  Project-oriented, goals-driven group learning is an engaging way to teach students how to apply what they’ve learned, while also giving them practice working cooperatively, being creative, and dealing with messy problems that might not have one “right” answer.  It gives students opportunities to apply their knowledge and a glimpse into what adults do in the workplace.

Teachers do this kind of assessment almost reflexively, whether students are raising their hands to answer a question, working in small groups, or doing independent research.  One of the difficulties with this kind of assessment, however, is that the rich experiential data in classrooms is often lost. Fortunately, schools more often have access to technology that will help teachers do assessment, quickly see results, and then make important decisions about what students know.  


How can I make sure my child is doing well?

Be involved.  Districts are great at letting parents know when and how students will participate in standardized tests, but the only way to know about what’s happening in the classroom is to talk with your child’s teacher.  

Teachers are experts–they know how important assessment is and how to do it well.  Don’t be afraid to ask how your child will be graded on what they learn, what success looks like, or how much time will be spent preparing for standardized tests.  

If you live in a state that emphasizes accountability, let your local representatives know that you care about more than test scores.  Ask for teacher and school ratings to connect to other metrics like college acceptance, AP completion/pass rates, or student engagement.  We, as parents, know what’s best for our individual children and must feel empowered to ask for it.

  1. http://www.fairtest.org/more-500000-refused-tests-2015
  2. http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/2013/TotalGroup-2013.pdf


About the Author

Hilary Scharton loves education and has worked in it, in some form or another, for her entire career. She currently serves as the Vice President of K-12 Product Strategy for Canvas by Instructure, the open online learning management system (LMS) that makes teaching and learning easier. In her role, she sets the strategic vision for how Canvas makes its products even more awesome for students and teachers across the globe, while focusing on leveraging technology to support improved instruction and equitable access for all students.  


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The post 5 Things Parents Should Know About End-Of-Year Testing appeared first on TodaysMama.

Stay Calm. It’s Just Lice.

The first time my kids got lice (yes, it’s happened more than once) I freaked out. Freaked out like a crazy woman who thought the world was going to end, and that the only answer was to buzz her kids’ hair off. Luckily, for my girls, I took a deep breath, did some intensive research and got the lice under control without any haircuts. After three lice outbreaks in three years, I’m also here to tell you, it’s not your fault and it’s not the black plague. With a little patience and lots and lots of screen time, your family is going to be A-Okay.

Note that this post is not sponsored by any company, product or retailer. These are all products I have personally used and found to work with my family.


Lice 101

Lice is inconvenient, yes, but it’s not the end of the world – even if you feel like it is right now. Here are the basic lice survival tips I’ve shared with my friends and family to help them survive their own lice outbreaks and to keep my own family lice free.


Remember… You are a Good Mom. You are a Good Mom.

I grew up under the impression that only “dirty” kids got lice. So, when I found lice in my kid’s hair I immediately thought I had the smelly kids in class. How was that possible though? I bathe them regularly. We brush their hair. They wear clean clothes (most of the time). So, how on earth did they get lice? They got it because they’re kids, and kids like to hug, and touch and try on each other’s fuzzy sweatshirts. It happens. Try not to hyper-focus on how your kid got the lice, because it can happen even if you make them wear a ponytail every day. If you make it in to a big deal, your kids will feed off your stress. That’s not fun. Lice is stressful enough as is. Take a deep breath. Know bad things happen to good people and get ready to kill some lice.


Treat and Repeat

There are many over the counter remedies for killing lice. My personal preference is NIX. Buy enough that you can treat each affected child twice. The package says you only have to treat once, but the first time my house got lice, we only treated once and the lice came back. The next year when we got lice again, we treated once at the beginning, and then 10 days later, when it’s about the time that the eggs or nits could hatch. We haven’t had another outbreak since then (knock on wood). Most lice product lines also offer pesticide free versions.

Combing matters. The lice treatment comes with a comb, but the little plastic comb never cut it for my children’s hair. I always made sure to get two of these NIX metal tooth combs. They were lifesavers. When combing, you can use the combing gel they provide, if that works for you. That never worked for my kids. We used olive oil, hair oil or detangling spray all work to help combing be less painful.

Combing routine. For the 10 days between the first treatment and the last treatment, you need to comb through your child’s hair daily to remove any lice (I know, sorry). Toward the end, you may only need to do a “wet check.” A wet check is when you wet the child’s hair and look through it for any live lice, baby lice (they look like pepper flakes), or lice eggs on the hair. To remove these, use the metal comb, running from the scalp to the end of the hair. Be sure to wipe the comb clean with a wet paper towel afterward.

 The wet part of a wet check is very important. When lice are wet, they stop moving which makes them much easier to remove.

Check everyone. If one child has lice, another child (or you) might have it too. Wet check everyone daily during that 10-day window but only use the treatment on the family members who actually have lice in their hair.

Distractions are your friend. This is the one time when it’s okay to let your child be on electronics for a long stretch. A movie, or tablet can be a good distraction from the long combing process that can take 30-60 minutes per child, depending on hair length. Coloring and reading are also helpful. You just need something where they can be still enough that you can comb through their hair.

Shower cap it up. Disposable shower caps are great to help keep your kid’s hair from spreading lice at home. My kids personally hated wearing them, but some of my friends swore by them.


Heat, heat and a little more heat

So, you have the lice on their head under control, but what about the couch? Their pillow? Their clothes? Their stuffed animals? Trust me, you’ll notice everywhere they’ve been. Heat is the easiest way to kill lice. 30 minutes under high heat can kill lice and their eggs. Lice will also die in 24 hours if they are not on a human, and eggs in 2 weeks. We always bagged up any stuffed animals they played with regularly in a garbage bag for two weeks. Their favorite stuffed animals got left out, but got the daily dryer treatment.

The dryer treatment. Each morning during the 10-day lice window, I put their pillow, favorite stuffed animals, blankets and sheets in the dryer for one cycle to kill any live lice. After school their sweatshirt, coat and hair supplies would get the dryer treatment too. We used the lice spray included in our kit for car seats and other items that couldn’t be thrown in the dryer. We also had a designated “lice couch” during that ten-day period so that we had less places we had to check and clean.

One of my friends recommends using an over the head dryer cap as part of the nightly treatments for your children. You can find one on amazon here.


Share on a Need to Know Basis

Just like I freaked out about lice, there will be other moms who freak out too. Don’t announce it on Facebook or the school’s social media page! Know your audience. If you have a germaphobe friend, probably not the best idea to share your lice woes with them. If your child plays a lot or carpools with particular kids, it is polite to let those parents know so they can check their own children. And also, so they can decide for themselves if they want to keep the kids separate for a time. Don’t take offense if they do. Just because one person is comfortable with their child playing with others while they have lice does not mean that other parents will feel the same way. Lice stinks, can you really blame anyone for trying to avoid getting it?


Prevent without Paranoia

It’s easy to go over the top trying to keep your child from getting lice again. There’s no need to go to extremes. Lice can happen, even if their hair’s up in a ponytail every day. The best approach is to help your child adjust their habits that are known spreaders of lice. Teach them to avoid trying on others hats or headbands (only if you pinky promise to not freak out when they do). Hats in stores and sharing hairbrushes and combs are other good things to steer clear of. At the same time, be realistic. Kids are going to share things now and then (and that’s okay). But sharing stuff once in a while, instead of at every recess, will lower your lice risk significantly. When your kids forget, don’t make them feel like it’s life or death because most of the time, they’re not going to get lice. And is it really their fault if they do? Of course not.



Last of all, take a deep breath. I hate lice, you hate lice, but it happens and you’ll survive it. So, go ahead and scratch that imaginary itch and give your sad kid a big, huge hug. Lice ain’t nice, but it can be killed without killing your family in the process.


Here are some of the most popular Over-The-Counter Treatments, easily purchased at your local grocer or on Amazon:


About the Author

Jenner Porter lives in Austin, TX with her husband, four kids and kitchen aid mixer. They spend long, happy hours baking together. Sometimes she hangs out with her husband and kids too. Jenner writes picture books, middle grade novels, magazine articles and short stories. Humor is an important element in her writing and can be seen throughout her works. Her works have appeared in Jack and JillFriend, Ensign and Highlights magazines. She also has a picture book featured on storybird.com.

Follow Jenner on Twitter here: @slushpilestory


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‘SCREEN SCHOOLED’ Exposes How Tech Overuse Is Making Our Kids Dumber

Bill Gates and I share a bit of parenting philosophy. Strange though it may seem, the Gateses limited their children to 45 minutes of screen time per day. I had set the same limit with my children. That seemed like enough time on screen for them to have that kind of fun, but also to experience the actual world. Then they got older, and something strange happened: school.

Don’t get me wrong. I think school is wonderful. I think it’s so wonderful, in fact, that I have devoted half of my life to it. I’ve been a public high school teacher for the past 24 years. I have seen changes big and small. Today’s push to get more kids using more screens for more of the school day has been the single most transformative change I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen the effects of this as a teacher and a parent. What I’ve seen in school would shock anyone who does not work with kids every day. Kids today are less able to think critically, solve problems, focus, and interact socially than ever before. Our obsession with screen time bears much of the blame. More on this in a minute.

First, though, what does this have to do with the limits that Bill Gates and I have tried to set with our kids? Perhaps this sounds familiar: you have set a screen time limit in your home. Since you’re a good parent, you follow through on your limits and tell your kids when their screen time is over for the day. “But mom,” comes the reply, “I have to do my homework.”


Feeling like the dinosaur you are, you stand there perplexed. To you, homework meant reading an actual textbook and writing on paper. It might have meant getting together with a group of friends at someone’s house to work on a presentation or have a study session. Your kids, though, if they attend typical American schools, have online textbooks, so their reading is done on screen as well. Homework needs to be turned into a digital drop box. “Collaborating” is done on some form of Google doc or another. In other words, the school has come into your home and run roughshod over your family screen time limit.


screen schooled


You now have a choice: you can sit with your children to make certain no time is wasted and they are always on task; or you can continue on with your evening and the mountain of things you have to get done. If you’re like me, you end up doing the latter. If your kids are like mine, homework now takes three or four hours, usually broken down like this: 30 minutes of homework and 2.5 to 3.5 hours of goofing around online.

What could be the harm in this, though? Schools want the best for my kids, right? Of course they do. In 24 years I’ve never known a school decision maker to intentionally do something that was bad for kids. However, follow this train of logic: A) school decision makers want good things for kids. B) School decision makers are implementing programs that require kids to spend more time on screens. C) Ipso facto, school decision makers must think that more screen time is good for kids. If A or B is false then C cannot be true. However, I am confident that A is true. We know that B is true. So what are we left with? The fact that school personnel think they’re doing your kids a favor by requiring more screen time. Here’s where I, and a growing chorus of teachers, parents and scientists part ways with many folks in charge of education today. But don’t take my word for it. Consider what a growing mountain of peer-reviewed, scientific research says.

Researchers at Cambridge report that increasing screen time leads to a reduction in academic achievement. A research team at the University of Michigan found similar results. Economic researchers at UC Santa Cruz found that access to computers at home and in school leads to worse academic and behavioral outcomes. Public policy researchers at Duke University found essentially the same thing. Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, an addiction specialist and author has called screens in school a “$60 billion hoax” since kids end up worse off when screen time is increased. A variety of other researchers at other institutions have found that increasing time with screen-based digital technologies leads to decreased classroom engagement, decreased math achievement, an increase in victimization by classmates, a decrease in physical activity and an increase in the consumption of soft drinks and junk food. Studies done by the NIH have linked elevated screen time usage to many disorders, such as decreased human empathy, increased anxiety and an increase in sleep problems.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. The point here is that research done by scientists across institutions and disciplines is pointing to the same thing: more screen time is bad for kids. Yet schools are pushing it now more than ever – to the point that whatever limit you may have set for your kids in your home no longer matters. That’s simply not right.


Joe Clement is an award-winning teacher and the co-author of Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse is Making Our Kids Dumber (on sale October 1, 2017 from Chicago Review Press). He and his co-author Matt Miles run the blog PaleoEducation.com and their writing has been featured in Psychology Today and the Washington Post. They are both parents and live in Northern Virginia.



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screen time overuse


Don’t Give Up On Me Because I’m ADHD: A Letter From My Son

My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 8 years old.  I knew something was different from the moment he was born.  As my first born, my pregnancy was met with story after story about how I should cherish the time in the hospital because the nurses can care for infant in the nursery allowing me some recovery time.  Or nap when the baby naps and make sure you are feeding them every 2 hours; sometimes you may even have to wake them up to eat! And so many more…

Can I just tell you how wrong every single person was about my newborn experience?  From the moment my son was born he would eat, nap for 45 minutes, wake up for 45 minutes, eat and repeat.  This did not change until he was 6 months old.  Sometimes at night I would get a 2-3 hour span, but if I had any light on (even in the next room), a car drove by, my husband breathed heavily or the TV glowing he would stay awake and do spin moves (at 1 week old) to see the TV or find the noise.  He also started walking around 10 months old and was climbing out of his crib at 11 months old.  He kept me just as busy (if not more) as he was.  I could tell by the look on other parent’s faces that my son was not the typical newborn or toddler.

Fast-forward eight years and it makes a lot more sense. My kiddo is just my busy-bee and once I understood him more, it was much easier to be patient with him.  It was also at this time that we made personal and family decision to place him on medication.  His ADHD was not only affecting his schoolwork, but it was affecting him socially.  He didn’t understand why kids had a hard time with him at recess or in class–and try figuring out a way to explain it! However, the first day he refused to return to school after an incident with “friends”, I knew we needed additional help.  Medicine was a blessing.  Simple as that.  A blessing for him, his education, his teachers, his friends, and most importantly…for him. I could actually follow a conversation with him for the first time in years. When I asked how he felt he quickly replied “My head doesn’t feel all buzzy any more!”.


As each school year approached, he knew that we would need to have conversations with his teachers about his behavior. You can only “island” a kid’s desk so many times before he realizes something is up.  Halfway through 6th grade we needed additional resources from the school and teachers to ensure he had a successful school year. We talked with our son a lot about what he wanted and felt he needed. It was during this time I asked him to write a letter explaining his ADHD and how he felt. I wanted to see his perspective.  Here is what he presented to me:

“I’m 11 years old and I have ADHD.  No, I don’t mean just A.D.D. ADHD is different because it isn’t just my brain that works faster–my body in general works and moves faster than most other kids.  I’ll admit that to some this can be seen as a blessing or a curse.  I say it is a blessing because it allows me to figure out problems, improve on other ideas and see things in other ways faster and more effectively than some. I have the energy to keep trying and trying and trying.  I would like you to know that some times (in my case) I don’t realize what I am doing and I need someone to snap me back in to reality. Things like tapping my pen on my desk, wandering around the room, or tearing up paper.  Also, a lot of the times, when I seem spaced out, like I don’t have a care in the world, it is actually those times when I don’t feel engaged in the activity or more simply — I AM BORED. I need to move and be involved as much as possible to keep my focus locked on. Please try and involve kids like me in the subject or game that is currently happening. Even if it takes a bit more work.  Whatever it is, just get our attention.

Next I would like you to know that if people think that ADHD means that ADHD kids are always bouncing off the walls and always not listening to anyone or anything, please understand that even when that happens, we are trying our very best. It can be really hard at times. Please try to get our attention and involve us in whatever it is that you’re doing.  Just put in some effort and it will all pay off. That’s what I would like you to know about ADHD and kids like me.”


adhd letter from son

What his letter taught me is this: I am trying and please don’t give up on me.

Simple as that.

I’m trying, guys. Please include me. I’m doing the best I can.

My heart hopes that I remember this on the tough days. My heart hopes that his teachers and friends can see and know this. If my ADHD son feels this way, I can almost guarantee someone else’s ADHD child does too. Let us all be a bit more patient and take the time to ask our child how they feel and what they need.  They’ll tell you every time.


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Mama Law, It’s REAL

Here’s one solid truth about being a mama: No matter how you envision your life with children, crazy unpredictable things will happen, and most things never go as planned. It’s called “Mama Law” and you’ll have to get used to it if you want to keep your sanity.

For example, the most vomit your kid will ever produce will only happen in her bed at 2 AM, the school hallway, or at church. It will only happen in your car, where you might actually try to “catch” it in your hands. Vomit won’t happen when your kid is relatively close to a bucket or a toilet. Same goes for an “accident” of volcanic proportions in her pants. That little gem of an experience will only occur when you are on a boat, or at the grocery store.


mama law motherhood


“The call” from school will come in when you are in the middle of your very first and only “spa day.”  Your head will be in foils, and your nails will be wet. You’ll finally be using that spa gift card (the expired one) your husband gave you two years ago, but you’ll need to leave early. Make no mistake, the call from the school will not come in when you are in the middle of getting your long overdue root canal.

Your son Joey’s friend, the one who has a “cool mom” who doesn’t contribute to the snack schedule or come to his games, will be the best and most popular player on the team. Side note: your son will score his only goal of the season at the only game of the season you can’t attend. 

Mama Law states that you will, at some point, spend a few hours of your time baking homemade cupcakes with frosting and candy decorations made from scratch, only to watch at least 3 kids in your daughter’s class lick the tops, examine them further with crinkled noses, and exclaim that they are gross. In front of you, they will smash them into napkins and throw them away. They might even spit out the mushy contents into the trash bin for dramatic effect. Your daughter’s friend, whose mom sent in 2 boxes of Donut holes, will be hoisted atop her class mate’s shoulders, amid squeals of excitement.

Here’s one that’s fairly embarrassing to talk about: You will finally get your period 6 or 7 months after giving birth, but it will be during the train ride you’re taking to visit your mother in the city. You will not have a pad or a tampon handy, and you will be alone holding your baby and a giant, heavy bag of supplies on your lap. So you will use a diaper. Mama Law states that you will, at some point, stuff a diaper down your pants on a train.

No sooner will you get done judging and shaking your head with a “tisk-tisk” at another mom for something shitty her kid did at school, when your little cherub does something equally or even more heinous, thus landing you front row, center in that special venue most of us visit at some point. I’ll call it the “Mom Shame Karma Club” and you will become a member whether you want to be or not. 


mama law


There are two Mama Laws that never change from one generation to the next: Your first grader will lose his front tooth (or both!) the night before school photos, and it will take you five whole years to read one whole book. Any book.

Here’s one to ponder: The more you talk about how much you hate tattoos and piercings, the more your teenage child will want one or the other, or both. But if YOU get a tattoo, your child might not think it’s cool anymore. This works in much the same way a Facebook account works. Once you have one, they no longer want it. 

You’ll be on time for pick up 99.9% of the time, but the one time you are late (or you forget to get them all together) will be the only time they ever talk about. And they will bring it up at Christmas 20 years later, after you have lovingly placed a steaming lasagna with fresh mozzarella and homemade gravy down on the table in front of their fat, little faces. They never forget.

The creme de la creme of Mama Law? You will inevitably say something your mother always said. It will fly out of your mouth during an argument with your kids, and you won’t be able to stop it. You’ll go wide-eyed in disbelief and disgust at your words before realizing how very true they are, thus crossing that bridge to the side of life where you must begrudgingly admit that your mother was right all along. When this happens, and it indeed will, you may require a quiet moment alone, because your mother will of course be present when those words fly out of your mouth. And she will smile her quiet little smile of triumph, and you will see her smile and steam will come out of your ears.  

motherhood mishaps funny


And lastly, here’s a Mama Law that never fails to surface at some point during the wondrous journey through child rearing: It only snows when you do not have milk, or hot chocolate, or food of any kind in the house, except for some old-ass eggs, and a few stale granola bars. 

Our Mama ancestors actually wrote all these down in a book many moons ago. Don’t shoot the messenger. 


kimberly-valzania-bio-pictureKimberly Valzania practices mindful gratefulness. She is creatively driven to write about and share her personal experience and opinions on weight loss, fitness, life changes, adventures in parenting, day-to-day triumphs (and failures), and the truth-seeking struggle of simply being human. As words tumble out, they are sorted into cohesive piles and delivered via poetry and short essays. Her articles are featured on Scary Mommy, Rebelle Society, The Elephant Journal, BonBon Break, The Minds Journal, The Manifest-Station, and Imperfect Parent.  Read more at her website eatpraypost.com.


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The Frazzled Moms Guide to Staying Sane This School Year

For some less than perfect, unorganized moms, the return to school brings more than the average level of stress and yes, even dread. I don’t know when the descent took place, but somewhere between Generation X and millennial movement, school has become so much more involved for parents, and so much more complex than it used to be. Any mother searching for three pairs of matching socks for multiple children each morning while couch-diving for lunch change at 7 a.m. knows this is where it gets real. I can hardly keep track of the school calendar alone, admittedly standing at the bus stop not once, but twice last year before realizing it’s a professional development day, therefore, no school. Sigh.

With more homework signature requirements than a congressional bill, checks needed for book fairs and candy-o-grams and parental involvement in a hundred different little projects, school can feel more bureaucratic than the IRS. In one month I’ve had to create a foot-long boat, decorate a turkey in ways that symbolize our family culture (who makes this stuff up?!), and write two handwritten notes as my children’s “pen pal,” thanks to another program initiated by an over- zealous PTO president. And who on the green earth do they think makes these projects for first graders? My youngest can hardly wipe his butt, let alone construct a watercraft with raw materials.

stay organized back to school

And let’s not forget the most overlooked, underappreciated school task that is the making of the lunches, lovingly prepared by executive chef mama at 9:30 p.m. with one eye open each night. No amount of blasting my favorite Jesus Culture Pandora station makes this assembly line of joy a rewarding experience. Although there are exceptions. I have a friend with six kids who makes a regular practice of posting a photo of her homemade, aesthetically pleasing lunch lineup on Instagram. And Facebook. Each day a different ensemble, but always with a fresh side of arugula-mandarin salad. I’m happy her children are experiencing culinary magic at lunchtime, but stuff like this drives me into deep dejection, comparing this to the squished Ziploc bags of pepperoni wraps and PB&J my kids pull out every day. I’m always tempted to upload a photo of three Lunchables with the caption: “Lunches are done—time for a bath!” I know I’d get more likes.

Managing school activities and requirements can be exhausting, but I’ve found some helpful tips and tactics to help maintain sanity, especially with school-aged kids:

  • Always. And I mean always, plan outfits (socks are the key!), pack lunches, hunt down school library books, sign homework, complete permission slips, and find any necessary money, the night before. There is nothing worse than dumpster diving in the couch for hot lunch quarters at 7:30 a.m. “Who took the singles out of my purse?!” or cringing as your first grader boards the bus with flagrantly mismatched socks. “Navy and turquoise are both in the blue family, honey—now run!”
  • Resist the overwhelming temptation to ignore school and teacher newsletters. If you can fight your way past the clip art, emojis, and superfluous details about which life cycles, seasons, sight words, and number charts your child is learning at that exact moment in time, you’ll find some informational treasures. I deleted all e-newsletters until standing at the bus stop not once, until sending my kids to school in their pj’s after missing the “slumber party Friday has been rescheduled” email. Sigh.
  • Turn homework time into quality time, especially if you have more than one child, where it can be difficult giving them undivided attention. Even when they don’t necessarily need help, I think kids like knowing you’re there and their work matters to us. Sometimes it can be the only twenty minutes of alone time you really spend together.
  • Try to bang out the homework before dinner, or right after dinner, if the kids have afterschool activities. There are few weeknight surprises as frustrating as your child announcing he has an extra homework page, reading assignment, or heaven help us, some kind of project he “forgot” about at 8:00 p.m. Any mother cutting up library-loaned magazines (Jesus forgives) in search of warm climate amphibians need only learn this lesson once.

Here’s to a new year of fresh starts, pre-packed lunches, readily available ice cream money, endlessly matching socks, and scoring the good bus driver who smiles at the kids no matter what. Amen.

Jessica Kastner is the author of “Hiding from the Kids in My Prayer Closet,” and a contributor for Beliefnet.com, Huffington Post’s Christianity blog, and CBN.com.  When she’s not on the trampoline with her three boys in Connecticut, she offers her “fluff free” commentary at www.JessicaKastner.com.  



Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorJessicakastner/
Facebook Community: #UnMom

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessKastner


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Florida School District to Ban Homework

The start of a new school year brings excitement and anticipation for both parent and child.  And then when reality hits, afternoons and evenings are chipped away by homework. Hours of homework, in fact.  However, Marion County, Fla. kids won’t have to worry about their afternoons being bogged down by homework because their school district has decided to ban it.

That’s right! The “no homework” policy for all 31 elementary kids is due to research showing students perform better when given a break from homework, according to Marion County School District Superintendent Heidi Maier. Maier points to research from University of Tennessee professor Richard Allington, which found that reading to a child has more positive effects than homework. Instead of homework, the school is asking that all elementary children read or be read to for 20 minutes each night, WKMG-TV reported.

elementary homework ban

I, personally, love this idea.  My kids’ teachers often tell me their classroom is homework-free… unless… your child isn’t able to finish their work during class.  For one of my boys this meant daily homework.  He writes slower than most of the other children and the time allotted was never enough. Some nights we would fight with him to get his homework done, but other days I would just give up.  He ultimately decided he just didn’t care about the classroom reward for completed homework–it was just too much for him (and was not worth the pain and tears to me to push it). This is not what school should be about.

Would you support a “no homework” policy at your child’s elementary school?


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