Are We There Yet?

Can you believe that we have almost reached the end of our summer?  I imagine the students probably feel much like I do – sad to relinquish the freedom of less structured days, yet excited to embark on some new adventures.  I have been conjuring up some surprises for my students this year, so I hope they are ready for some new, fun challenges!

I know some of you may have students who are not in the GT program at this time, so I just want to remind you that I will be testing 2nd-5th graders the first few weeks of school.  If you have a child in one of those grade levels you would like have tested, please be sure to let me know A.S.A.P., as I will be sending out permission forms the first week of school.  (If your child was in GT at Hidden Forest last year in Kinder, 1st, 3rd, or 4th, he or she does not need to be retested.)  E-mail me at if you have any questions.

I recently read an article that I thought parents might like, called “10 Things to Stop Saying to Your Kids.”  I particularly like the first suggestion, as I think it’s something we all habitually say, and it does not have the desired effect on our children.  It reminds me of a post I did on my professional blog last year, called, “You Are Smart vs. You Must Have Worked Hard.”  These are great things to keep in mind, particularly if we don’t want our kids/students to always look for the easy way out.

If you are looking for something fun for your child to do during the last couple of weeks before school starts, you might want to check out this Young Game Inventors Contest.   I bet a lot of our students have great ideas for board games, and this is their chance to win a $10,000 savings bond along with other prizes.

This time next week, I will be back to work.  I don’t look forward to the early mornings, but I definitely look forward to all of the fun I am planning for this year.  I hope my students will be saying, “Are we there yet?” about our first GT class instead of, “Can we turn around and go home?” 😉


I’m not sure if any of you attempted to attend the “Bat Loco” extravaganza that I mentioned in last week’s post.  Our family actually arrived at the location about 20 minutes after the bats had already left!  Apparently, they have not been waiting until dusk lately, and last night they flew out about 7:25 PM.  We were slightly disappointed to miss the exodus, but there were Parks Department representatives there to answer questions about bats and give out information.  Also, the Cheesy Jane’s food truck was available, so not all was lost!

Next week, we are going to try to attend the Wednesday evening “Astronomy in the Park” at McAllister.  You can click here to get more information, including a map to where the telescopes are located in McAllister.  This is also a free event, and several astronomers set up their huge telescopes for different views of the night sky.  The last time we attended, we saw Saturn – and it looked exactly as though someone had drawn it on the telescope lens!  If you go, I recommend bringing bug spray and drinking water.

If you are interested in what can be seen in the sky in the next week, you might want to check out this site.  The Perseid Meteor Shower is supposed to be quite a show on August 12th and 13th.  Unfortunately – the best time to view the meteors in our area will be between midnight and dawn.

Some recent posts from my professional blog that you might want to read are:  Books for Gifted Kids, BotLogic, and AR Basketball.

I hope your kids are getting excited about school starting soon.  I know that I have some great ideas for the new year!


Sometimes It’s Fun to Go Batty

Did you know that Texas Parks and Wildlife is sponsoring a “Bat Loco Bash” in San Antonio every Tuesday night until August 13th this summer?  If you’ve never had the chance to view the bat colony that lives under I-35, then this would be a great (and FREE) event to try out!  Here is the official Bat Loco website with information about the times and place.  This is a fun family activity!

And if your family enjoys that, then you might be interested in seeing even more bats as they leave their tunnel for their nightly dinner at the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area near Fredericksburg.  Our family has done this a couple of times, and we are always astounded by the sheer number of bats!  On Thursday-Sunday evenings, you can pay to enter the lower viewing area and receive an educational presentation.  It’s definitely worth checking out!


For The Musically Inclined…


This week, I have a few links for those of you who enjoy adding a bit of music to your life:

Singing Horses – click on each horse to turn its unique sound off or on

ToneMatrix AudioTool – Create your own music by coloring in the boxes

WeaveSilk – Create calming music as you draw

Also, if you would like to experience some live music, you might be interested in the Mozart Festival at Incarnate Word this Friday, July 26th or Bradley’s Summer Music Festival on Saturday, July 27th.

I hope that, so far, your summer is “hitting all the right notes!”

Learn a New Language this Summer!

Ever since I moved to San Antonio, it was clear that the four years I spent learning French in high school were pretty much a waste of time.  I keep making half-hearted promises to myself to learn Spanish, but it took a little competition from my daughter to spur me on.

I had recently downloaded “Duolingo”, a free iOS app (also available on Android and on the web), that I keep reading about on various blogs.  Before I had the chance to try it out, my daughter latched on to it, and challenged me to try to beat her point total.

Duolingo basically makes learning a language into a game.  You earn points as you translate things correctly.  There is even a speaking portion included.

If you have a child who is interested in learning a new language, you might want to let him or her try Duolingo.  (Please be aware that a Facebook or e-mail account is required to register.  But the good news is that there are no ads or in-app purchases.)  And if you really want to motivate your child, set up a separate account for yourself, and engage your child in a bit of friendly competition!

I’m not sure about Duolingo’s appeal to different age levels.  My daughter is 10, if that helps.  But it seems to me that any user who is able to read, and has the motivation to learn a language, would enjoy this program.

Let me know if you end up trying it!  I’d love to hear more feedback on Duolingo!

So Much to Do, So Little Time!

Summer has been busy around our house, and I’m already well aware of the fact that we are not going to accomplish half of what I had planned for these couple of months before the new school year envelops us.  Despite that, I am always finding new things to add to the list – usually more than what I have crossed off the list so far!

I’m always on the lookout for what might interest the GT families of our community.  Here are a few resources I’ve collected in the past week that you might want to try:

Happy July!

I hope that everyone enjoys the 4th of July holiday this week.  It’s difficult to believe we are already beginning the 7th month of this year!  I’ve collected a few nuggets over the past week that might interest you as you look for ways to spend your time this month.  First of all, if you happen to be looking for a special gift for a young person in your life, you might want to check out this blog post that I did last Friday on my professional blog.

Also, if you want a great resource for educational videos, you might want to head over here to “The Kid Should See This,” where a mom posts a collection of videos that she finds for her own children from all over the internet.

You can click on the infographic above for some ideas to “Exercise Your Noodle” this summer from Kids Discover.

And, finally, I’ve embedded a very cute “Dog Goldberg” video below.  It’s a commercial, but definitely shows the joy of creativity and invention.  For more about Rube Goldberg machines, you can visit this post on my professional blog.

Games, Games, Games

I want to thank the PTA for providing the funding for Mrs. Dillard and me to attend the ISTE conference downtown this week.  This is an annual, international conference for technology in education, and I always get great ideas when I get the chance to attend.  I can’t wait to try everything out this upcoming school year!

One of the themes that was very prominent in many of the presentations was the “gamification” of learning.  This does not mean that kids need to sit down and do all of their learning by playing Minecraft, but it does mean that there are some valuable lessons that children learn from playing games that we can use in our classroom.  If you’re interested in reading more about this, you can visit my professional blog here.

With that in mind, I have two resources to share with you for the students this summer.  One is GameUp, which is produced by Brainpop.  Our school just got a subscription to Brainpop near the end of the school year, and I highly recommend the animated educational videos.  (If your child needs the username and password, feel free to e-mail me.)  The game section is free, though, and requires no log-in.  There are many games for the upper grades, and then you can also access the somewhat fewer games on the Brainpop Jr. site. (BTW, there is a free app for Brainpop, and you can use our school log-in to access all of the videos on your mobile device, too.)

And, if you would like your child to stay away from the computer, I highly recommend a site called GameKit, which has a really cool assignment to modify an old game that you have around the house to make something new.  You can learn more about GameKit here.

Lastly, I have started “tweeting.”  If you are interested in following me, my address is @terrieichholz.

Are You Bored Yet?

This was about the time each summer that I would begin complaining to my mother about my boredom, and she would then dream up the most humdrum tasks imaginable to prove to me the definition of true boredom.  It’s hard to believe, now, that I was ever bored, because I always have thousands of things I would like to be doing and not enough time to do them!

I came across some activities on Pinterest that might interest some of my GT families out there, and thought I would share them.  My favorite, by far, is the Rainbow Sock Snake that you see pictured above.  You can visit this site to learn how to make them.  Easy breezy!  I got this idea, along with some others, from this Pinterest Board from Mensa.  You might want to look at some of their other resources as well.

Around town, the McNay has a new Norman Rockwell exhibit that looks very promising.  You can see related family activities here (page 4).  This Sunday, your family can participate in “Trash to Treasure” at the McNay.  And, speaking of treasure, Treasure Island will begin playing at the Magik Theater on June 26th.

If you know of any other events that might be of interest to our GT families, please let me know!

Summer is in Full Swing!

Well, one week later, I am trying to keep my promise of posting once a week!  So far, so good!  I hope that all of you are enjoying your summer.

One link that you may want to check out is My 5th graders used this as a resource to find interesting projects for Genius Hour this year, but parents might want to think about actually registering your children with this site.  If you are looking for a way to fuse on-line and off-line learning, this is the site for doing that.  It includes instructions for lots of projects to make, and really showcases creativity.  You don’t have to join to benefit from the site.  It’s easy and fun to browse through projects.  One advantage of joining the site, though, is the opportunity to earn virtual badges.

Another favorite resource for my 5th graders was Wonderopolis.  I was just checking it out, and noticed that they are offering a “Camp What-A-Wonder” this summer!  I have never participated, so I am not sure exactly what it entails, but it looks like it is free and can be done whenever you like.  I know, for sure, that my 2nd graders should check this out – because look at the themes for the first two weeks:

  • June 17 – 21: Ant Farms, Spider Webs, & Underwater Coves — Dig Into the Wild Kingdom!
  • June 24 – 28: Buildings, Bricks, & Bulldozers – Scout Out Some Superstructures!

This totally goes with what we studied this year!  I hope some of you get the chance to participate.  I’m going to sign up, too!