Thursday, September 15, 2016

The First Week of School or Complete Insanity

And so I started school last week.  On the first day back, with no kids yet mind you, I drank a bottle of wine when I got home.  Don't judge.  Thursday, the first day with kids, lasted 87 hours.  It did, I swear.  And now 4 actual school days with kids under my belt, I am already looking forward to the first 4 day weekend, like a sailor looking forward to shore leave.  Why? I like my job.

Look at me teaching.  I look happy and engaged, right?  I do.  I'm animated, enthusiastic, gung ho.  But I am completely shot.  I wanted to go for a manicure today between the end of school and Parent Welcome Night, but I forgot my wallet at home.  I don't remember the last time I did that.  And while we were standing in the hallway chit chatting, we all realized we're beyond done.  On the 4th day of school.  And then it hit us.  It's September.

The worst month of the school year is March, hands down.  It's really long and there are rarely days off.  In NYC, it is also test prep time.  It's bad. The weather is bad.  Everyone is tired and cranky, but we all expect it and power through.  September is a close second.

I teach 6th grade.  My kids are brand new to junior high.  For the first time, they have multiple teachers. May and June were a joke filled with field trips, graduation practice and senior activities.  They haven't been real students in about 4 months.  So now they're back in school, dazed and confused.  They need a lot of help, they're not sure how to do anything.  They think school is the same party it was in June.  Getting kids back into a routine is a Herculean task.  And that's why I'm so exhausted, just like every other 6th grade teacher I work with.

But knowing your problem is half the battle, or so they say.  It always passes, the kids remember how to be students.  I remember my wallet and can get a manicure.  And we all learn and grow together.  I hope I make it!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hard Work; Is it its Own Reward?

As the school year gets ready to start once again in NYC, I start to go into full on panic mode.  September 6th is my first day back and I anticipate getting a solid 2-3 hours of sleep tonight.  Why?  This is my 16th first day of school.  I know what I'm doing.  I'm a good teacher.  Why the anxious, nausea inducing feeling that I've gotten nothing done?

It must be because I'm panicky by nature, and I am.  But it's also that I always have to have something cooking, brewing, you know a new project in the works.  I've been teaching for 16 years, right?  I should have every lesson down pat, memorized verbatim, ready to go.  But that bores me. I teach ELA and I have quite a bit if freedom in the books I can use in my classroom.  I could use the same books year in and year out, but I don't.  The one unit that always remains in my non fiction unit on animals, it's a personal passion, and even there I switch it up with one new book every few years.  Last year I added Oogy, a book about a former bait dog adopted into his furever home.  And at the end of the year, I added Cinder.  

Two new books in one year.  That's a lot of work.  This year I'm adding Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and Breakout Edu boxes (I'll share that in a future post).  This is hours of work for me.  Frustrating, cursing, wanting to throw things across the room work.  So why do I do it?  The kids love the books I used last year, my kids this year will love them too.  Why add all of this extra work, when really I'm the only one who knows?  

Because I'm a masochist.  Most teachers are.  But really it's because I like the challenge of completing a project.  I like seeing a deadline and working to get my project done by that date.  And it keeps me connected to my kids.  They are always working to finish something on time.  It's difficult to work hard and know your only reward is a good grade.  That's not tangible and we all know kids love tangible.  It's takes a lot of strength of character for a 10-12 year old to sit and work when there's no immediate, physical reward, and yet they do it.  The hard work is its own reward.  

By constantly updating my repertoire, not only am I keeping my teaching fresh and new, introducing great new books to my students, but I'm also connecting with them on a more subtle level.  Yes, you have to do this assignment.  Why?  Not because you will get in trouble if you don't and not because you might fail, but because you will get a feeling of accomplishment that will carry through to adulthood.  So yes, hard work is often its own reward and that is one of the best lessons I teach my kids every year. 

And now here's a tangible reward for finishing my blog post.  Enter to win 1 of 2 gift cards, a $50 Amazon gift card or a $40 TpT gift card.  Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 29, 2016

Print This (That and Everything)

Once about ten years ago, we were going on a field trip to Ellis Island.  During the discussion about the trip, one of my boys said he wouldn't want to live back then because he liked the world in color better.  We'll just gloss over the fact a 13 year old thought the world used to be black and white and get to the point for this post.  We prefer color.  Black and white can be beautiful, especially in film noir movies but color is so much better.  But printing in color costs a small fortune, right?  Nope!

I have put printer ink on Donors Choose (see last week's post) every year.  I won't have to ever do that again. Why, you ask? Because of HP Connected.  How is it possible I just found out about this? Well, it doesn't matter any more because I know now, and so do you.

How does it work, you ask? Ridiculously simple. It may costs a little money up front.  I didn't have an HP printer that was in the program, so I had to buy one.  Mine cost $60, not too bad.  As you add the printer to your computer they ask if you want to join the Instant Ink program.  And yes, you do! There are a few levels to the program. It all depends on your needs. There a low, mid and high level print plan.  I did the 300 color and 300 black and white copies a month plan.  It's only $9.99. For 300 color copies.  If you run out of ink, they'll send you another cartridge.  It takes up to 10 days which may be a bummer but they send it when they see you're running low, so it isn't too bad.

As if that isn't great enough, you can print from your tablet or smart phone.  Oh, and for a crazy Jetsons add on, you can send documents to print to your personal HP email address and it will print out the papers even if you're nowhere near your printer!!!!!!!! Yes, this is amazing. Another bonus? You get 3 months free when you sign up, you, change the plan at any time (high plan for beginning or the year, mid plan for mid year), or cancel at any time.  I can't think,of a single reason why you wouldn't want to join.  No, I'm not getting a kick back, I just want everyone to have a beautiful, colorful classroom, like I do!

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Teacher's Best Friend

Who doesn't love this song?!?

Unlike a girl, a teacher's best friend is not diamonds (although I really, really wish they were).  A teacher's best friend is Donors Choose.  For those of you who don't know what DC is, get ready to have your mind blown.  It's a website where teachers write proposals for materials, trips, visitors they want for their classes, people donate money and you get your stuff.  (It's only for public school teachers in the USA, sorry everyone else!)

It really is that easy.  I have been a member since 2005.  In that time I've had over 200 projects funded.  The average project was about $200.  That's $40,000 worth of materials I've gotten for my kids!!!!!!!  What have I asked for?  It's more like what haven't I asked for.  I've gotten dozens of class sets of book (When You Reach Me, Cinder, Divergent, The Hunger Games, The Lost Hero, Oogy), hundreds of individual books for my classroom library, 30 Chromebooks, markers, pens, paper, field trips, you name it.  My biggest project was definitely the 30 Chromebooks, but many of my projects are $100-$300 projects.  

Kids on Chromebooks on (both funded by DC)

Need a book? DC has that covered.

Every kids gets their own copy of  When You Reach Me.

Another DC Double.  Colored paper for Interactive Notebooks and The Lost Hero books.
When a proposal is funded, you have a few expectations to meet.  First you confirm that you still need and want the materials by writing a quick thank you note and choosing a date to have the final thank yous done.  Then when the kids get the materials, you need to take photos of them using the materials (make sure you have permission), write a more detailed thank you note from yourself, and sometimes the kids have to write thank yous too.  I like this part the best. Some donors want them, others don't.

Who wouldn't want to get this in the mail?

Does every proposal get funded? Of course not.  One of my proposals for Kore Active Stools just expired because it didn't get fully funded.  Bummer, but not the end of the world.  The donated money goes back to the donor and you can always repost.  I recommend starting small, a $100-$150 proposal.  DC works on a point system.  Each project is so many points.  You get points for completing steps and the more you have the bigger projects, you can post.

On the serious side Donors Choose does an amazing job, especially for school hit hard by natural disasters.  The tornado that went through Moore, OK, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, even the Flint water crisis have all affected schools in those areas.  And DC was there every time to help rebuild.  Right now Louisiana  is having the worst flooding since Katrina.  If you've watched the news, you know just how bad it is.  But then again, you don't.  Unless you live there, you have no idea how truly bad it is.  Once again Donors Choose has stepped up to help.  

If you're a teacher, get onto Donors Choose immediately, open and account and start writing proposals.  And if you can, help out our fellow teachers in Louisiana.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Too Close to Home

Daniel Fitzpatrick

Cute kid, right?  Looks like a boy you'd love to have in your class.  Looks happy, wouldn't you say? Yes well, looks are deceiving.  He killed himself August 11th.  Hung himself from a belt in the attic. His sister found him.  Because he was being bullied.

I have huge issues with the bullying push going on today.  I think all of the attention is doing more harm than good.  Reporting on stories of kids killing themselves, gives other kids ideas.  Well he or she couldn't take it anymore and neither can I.  Also I think they bullying message is being misrepresented.  What bullying is and what it isn't.  You did something embarrassing in class, you farted, your pants ripped, you busted your butt while giving a presentation, and everyone made fun of you for a few days or a week isn't bullying. But a lot of kids seem to think it is.  I can't tell you how many kids come up to me and say, "So and so is bullying me."  And when I look into it, so and so is being mean today.  Just today.  Of course, I address it but I have to explain that's not bullying.

Bullying is when you have no respite from the torment. Day in, day out you are the relentless target of someone whose sole purpose is to make your life a living hell. This could be going on for a few days, weeks, months, whatever.  This is way harder to address.  My kids know I have no tolerance for any kind of mean behavior.  That is laid out on the line for them on Day 1.  They are told that the behavior will not be tolerated, and if it really is bullying, I will personally call the cops (bullying incidents are mandated police reporting in NY) and make sure the matter is dealt with.

Does this help at all?  I like to think so, but does it?

I've read the suicide letter.  His parents posted in on Facebook. He names the teachers who did nothing, and the one teacher who tried to help.  I don't ever want to see my name in this context.  So am I doing enough?  What can I do differently?  How can I make this never happen to any of my students?  I don't know the answers.  Be available?  I like to think I am.  Be tough?  I know I am.  But does it help at all?  

Why did this case make me write this post?  There are cases like this everyday.  Why this one?  I know his parents.  I grew up with them.  I hung out with them.  No, we never got along.  There was one memorable bar fight started because of an incident concerning the three of us.  But I know them, and even if we never got along, this is something so horrific that I wish I could say something to make them feel better, less horrified, less devastated. What can I say?  What can I do?  I wish I knew. I wish I could spare all other parents this pain. All I can do know is trust that what I'm doing is helping, look out for the signs of bullying, and intervene when I think there's an issue.  Bullying will never end.  Kids will never stop, that's what some kids do.  No, I'm not being pessimistic, I'm being realistic.  Being realistic is the best way I know how to deal with this problem.  I hope it helps. 

Daniel Fitzpatrick GoFundMe

His older sister set up a GoFundMe page.  They met their original goal of getting enough money to bury him. With the extra money, they want to set up a foundation to help other kids.  If you're interested, please click on the link above.  Thank You.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Five for Friday!

What was my week like?  Hmmm!

1. Summer heat. Call me crazy but I love the heat we're getting in NY.  Yes it's sticky and gross, but it's summer and that's the way it's supposed to be.

2. Victory for Rescue dogs.  NJ just passed a bill that all new pet stores can only sell rescue dogs.  A small step but we're looking at the end of puppy mills!

3. Time for lunches.  I know a lot of you are back at school already, but I have a few weeks of summer left.  Yesterday, I went to work with my boyfriend and then lunch. It was a good day.

4.  I started my own Facebook Group, TpT Blogging Buddies.  So far, it's going well.  I think!

5. Fresh, raw oysters.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Catching Up with an Old Friend

Yes, I was obsessed with Harry Potter for many years, not as obsessed as some, but enough.  I first heard the name while getting ready to go to work in Manhattan one day.  On the good morning news, there was a piece about 2 children's books that had been on the NY Times best seller list for over a year.  Odd, I thought.  Odder still, all of the adults were raving about them.  So I went online and ordered the first one.

I devoured it while sitting in the park across from the Plaza hotel.  It's a tiny little park with a memorial to William Tecumseh Sherman.  I sat on the lip of the monument and read that book every day at lunch.  Then I bought the 2nd book and devoured that one.
My Harry Potter reading spot

Now I had a problem, there was a whole year until the next book.  But I waited and it was worth it.  Another year.  But this time, something was wrong.  The book was different, darker and I wasn't sure I liked it.  Our relationship cooled off a bit, and the next year I didn't get the book the day it came out. But I couldn't stay away long.  I taught 5th grade by then and it came out at the end of June.  My kids had graduated unofficially the day before, so very few kids came in to school that day.  I let them play games, draw; whatever made them happy.  Dong brought in a copy of the book, and in one of my less fine teacher moments, I took his book and read it while he played with his friends.  (I did give him the book back at the end of the day and bought my own copy on my way home from work.)

And that was that.  We were back together.  I pre-ordered all the remaining books and they were delivered bright and early on release day.  I opened them up and read straight through them.  With the exception on the final book because one of my girlfriends had the audacity to plan her engagement party that day, so I had to stop reading it to show up.  It's still a sore spot between us.

And then the friendship was over.  Harry and I moved on and even though I saw him sometimes in pictures or movies, it wasn't the same. Until this year.  I cried when I saw a new book was being released.  I immediately pre-ordered it.  And I waited.  Well, the wait is over and I've read it.  I won't give anything away.  I understand he may be your friend too, but it was worth the read.  Was it the same?  Of course not, you can't go home again.  But it was just like meeting up with an old friend after a few years, and I enjoyed every second of our time together.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Five for Friday

My first 5 for Friday Linky.  I'm excited.


I went a little crazy at Barnes and Noble. I had a credit from a settlement and then Harry Potter came out.  This should last me the rest of the summer!


My boyfriend is redoing the front porch.  Who's better than him?


Going along with the porch redo, our living room now looks like a Starbucks.  I'm kind of digging it.


My first official TpT journal. Yay, organization  


I started my own weekly Linky Party this week on my blog.  Fingers crossed that it'll do well. 

All in all a productive week.  Feeling good!

What's in A Name?

When I get an idea, I start it immediately.  I give it a cursory examination to make sure it's not a totally idiotic idea, and then I jump right in.  Like this blog.  I started a TpT store, so I needed a blog. The original name was X Marks the Spot. Until I realized it should match my store, and voila, new name.

The theme is also a little off.  Most other teacher blogs are bright, cheerful, cute blogs.  Not me at all. I'm the realist. Don't get me wrong, I'm hysterical, but no one in their right mind would call be cheerful or cute.  So I went with me.  I wanted a library feel to my blog, even though it's not a library or even a predominantly ELA blog.  It's what I like, books. I think I achieved that pretty well.

And then this week, I decided I should host weekly Linky Parties.  I love them and they've realloy helped me grow my following. I thought why not help other teachers grow their businesses, interact, make new contacts?  It was actually pretty easy to set up and I'm excited about this one, my first.  But as usual, I went off half cocked.  Fabulous Fridays Linky Party seemed a natural.  Until I gave it some thought.  Doesn't every teacher consider his or her brand fabulous?  Won't that be a very common name? I think so.  So, what screams me, even if no one else will get it?  Freestyle Fridays Free For All Linky Parties.  What's a Linky Party?

To explain.  Freestyle was a dance sound in the late 80s and early 90s in some cities across the US.  Mostly underground, it became big in cities with Puerto Rican populations.  NYC basically leading the pack.  Not many of the songs or artists are well known.  Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam was the only one that went really mainstream. And whenever there was a concert it was, and still is, always a Freestyle Free For All. It all fell into place.  I love alliteration, it's dorky, but hey that's me.  It's music that I love.  And it's special.  I have shortened the name to Freestyle Fridays Linky Parties, to make it less of a tongue twister.  

Best Freestyle Song Ever

So to kick off my very first Freestyle Fridays Linky Party, please join in with a freebie of your own.  And I hope to see you every Friday.  I just may add a link to a freestyle song each week.

At a freestyle birthday party this summer.  This is what I looked like from 1989-1991.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

TpT Back to School Sale Giveaway Extravaganza

With all of the planning and purchasing and craziness we teachers have getting ready for school, the last thing we need to worry about is our wardrobe. GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Prize: $50 Stitch Fix Gift Card Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), Co-hosts: An Apple for the Teacher, Mrs. Roltgen, Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love Teaching, Momma with a Teaching Mission, Sliding Into 1st, Minute Mommy, Peas in a Pod, XClass to the Rescue, Kovescence of the Mind, and Pam's Place. Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 8/7/16 and is open worldwide. Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media? Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 29, 2016

Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back

Please excuse the Welcome Back, Kotter title, I am from Brooklyn after all.  I like to start off the year with an nice, easy welcome activity and this has always worked well.

My student are brand new to junior high when I get them in September.  Everything is very overwhelming.  Their first homework assignment for me is to research their name.  Why was the name chosen? What nationality is it?  What does it mean? If you could change your name, what would you change it to?  The next day, we share our stories.  Since I usually have 5-6 different nationalities in my classes, this gets the ball rolling that even though we’re all in the same class, we are all special and unique. BTS Welcome Activity

Then for Thanksgiving, I have a potluck party.  If a student wants to bring in food, it has to be a dish from their culture.  It’s always a big hit, and there’s food from all over the world; Muslim desserts, pierogis, samosas, taquitos, macaroni pie, and even jerk goat one year (which was delicious by the way).

Names and food are two icebreakers that work well with everyone.  Everyone likes to talk about themselves and everyone likes to eat.  It’s an easy way to highlight what makes us special individually and what makes us awesome in a group!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Oh No, We Got Ms. Xavier

Yes, I'm the mean teacher.  I am very strict and have no tolerance for misbehavior in the classroom. When my kids hear my high heels clicking down the hallway, they all start shushing each other and warning each other I'm coming.  Kids do not walk up to me in class and ask me questions, they also do not walk over to my desk during home room and give me papers.  I must have been a Roman Centurion in a former life, order and rules are my happy place.

But you know what?  Even though my rooms sounds like a military barracks, it works.  My first class was very tough.  5 of my boys that year got the cops called on them for stalking one of my girls home. They cursed out the cop, who then offered me his gun when he returned them to my class.  My second and present school was even worse. We were a Bloods school when I first got there.  Bloods, as in the street gang.  I had to be tough to get respect.  The good kids always appreciated my ability to keep the bad kids in line so they could learn.  The vast majority of the bad kids, respected the fact that I was the alpha dog in the class.  Like I said, it works.

The population in my school has drastically changed in the 10 years I've been there.  Nowadays, I'm more apt to get a kid who cries because he or she didn't do his or her work and is failing.  They think the tears will help.  They won't.  6th graders need consequences.  Yes, everyone screws up every now and then, but continued transgressions need a consequence.  That's how we learn, we make a mistake, we get an outcome we don't like, and we learn how to not get that outcome again.  That's growth.

I'm no longer as scary as I was 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago.  I'm still strict and expect all of my students to work, to their own level of course.  And guess what?  My kids are respectful, hard working, and achievers.  We work in groups regularly and every one understands that everyone is equally important.  They vote (or rock, paper, scissors) their disputes away and get right back to work.  I have very few kids who don't do homework.  I have very few kids who get into fights outside of the classroom.  We have real conversations, not just about school work.  They appreciate the autonomy they are given and I appreciate the effort they put into their work.

What do they get in return for being so responsible at such a young age?  I take my kids on constant field trips into the city (Manhattan).  We do lots of art projects.  We walk shelter dogs and create websites to try to get them adopted.  We learn to code and use our 3D printer.  I trust my kids to do the right thing.  I don't hover over them. I give them the space to explore and learn from each other and they come to me only when they truly can not figure something out.  While the other classes on my grade are still very elementary, my students are becoming middle schoolers. The 7th grade teachers always know which kids were mine the year before.

So as we return to school, I'll get the usual,  "How do you get your kids to listen so well?" questions  from the new teachers.  I usually joke and say it's because the kids know I'm not a nice person. It's really because they know I respect them.  And they,in turn, respect me as well.  So after my joke, I tell them to be who they are.  Kids have built in BS detectors.  If you try to act like someone you're not, they will not listen to you.  I'm a Roman Cemturion at heart, so order and rules work for me.  Go with who you are, kids appreciate honesty and will respond in full force. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Mrs. Thomas' Teachable Moments

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Teacher' Summer Vacation

So yes, it's true, I have the WHOLE summer off. And I won't lie, it's fabulous.  But I don't sit around all summer on my butt, on the beach, drinking pina coladas. I read books I want to read with my students next year, I work on my TpT products, I plan lessons for September. But yes I do sit around on my butt a decent chuck of time, reading books, at the beach, doing jigsaw puzzles, and lots more relaxing, fun stuff.

Every summer I take a few vacations.  This year, Cape Cod, Killington, Montauk, and Gatlinburg. And the annual trip to Wildwood with the family.  When people hear the Jersey Shore they cringe.  They probably should, I do.  Wildwod is different though.  It's a family town, lots of 1950s motel with a gigantic beach and a boardwalk.  We've gone every year since I was a kid, and my mom has gone every year since she was a kid!  It's a tradition, starting with my great grandmother and now down to my niece.  

Me and dad waaaaaaaay back in the day.

Can you see how long that beach is?  

Surrey riding by the beach.

With the nieces at Lobster House.

Dinner with the family, Lobster House style.

Beach time fun.
As I get ready to go down the weekend,  I know it'll the same old, same old Wildwood, and that's exactly the way I want it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Your Next Book

Book Time

So now that it's summer, I have some time in my hands again.  And my favorite hobby has always been reading.  I can get lost in a book quicker than anything else on the planet.  Oddly enough, not the reason I became an ELA teacher, but that's a story for another blog post.

Everyone knows I love to read.  I always thought it was a shame I don't work in a DEAR school.  It's well known I can be found outside, on a free period, in warm weather, reading a book.  My kids get me book marks as gifts.  And I have the best library in be school (yes, I'm tooting my own horn) thanks to Donors Choose. I try to read 1-2 books a month. Sometimes, I sadly fall far short, but the summer is my time to shine.  

Last spring, the Resource teacher at my school recommended a book to me.  We have similar tastes; historical fiction.  Usually we tend toward Ancient Rome, but this time he recommended a WWII novel, The Long Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan.  It's the story of an Australian soldier in a Japanese POW camp in WWII. It's told before, during, and after the war.  It is amazing.  It is graphic both in terms of sex and violence, but it is the second best book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT of books.  I had a mani-pedi appointment as I neared the end of the book. I took it with me and bawled in the pedicure chair as I finished it.  It's that good.  I also got about a dozen people to buy it in the London Heathrow book shop as I was looking for All the Light We Cannot See, another great book. 

Please do yourself a favor and pick this book up, you will not be disappointed. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

TpT Advneture

So a few months ago, I was talking to a teacher who told me she works with a guy who makes enough on Teachers Pay Teachers to pay his rent!!!!!! Of course, I wanted in immediately. Like most teachers, I've gotten lots of products from TpT over the years.  Now I've set up my own store and am busy adding products.

It's A LOT of work.  A LOT.  But it's a fun experience.  I made the mistake  of starting my store first and joining the forums after. BIG MISTAKE.  I had to redo all of my products less than a month after putting them up.  But it's summer so I have the time.  

So far, I'm obsessed and in love and I hope to see you in my store.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Last day of School

As another year comes to an end (15 of them now) I always get a little sad and a sense of deja-vu.   The end of every year is basically the same. All garbage out.  All materials locked up.  All desks clean and empty.  The kids come and the kids go.  But every year is special and different in its own way.  Some better, some worse, all unique.  This year was a pretty good year.  The kids were nice with only a small handful of issues.  As this year goes into the books, and another summer begins, I'll remember the highlights and hopefully most of the kids.  And of course, start looking forward to a new year sometime in August.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Final Field Trip Idea

As promised, here's my third and final field trip idea.  Every year as a reward for working do hard, we take the kids to Luna Park in Coney Island.  Yes, I know it's not an academic trip but all work and no play....

Tickets prices range from $17-$22 depending on how many kids you have and with that they get an unlimited ride bracelet for 2 hours to all of the rides in the Luna Park section. There are 2 sections and one doesn't open until noon.  Altogether, there are about a dozen rides for middle schoolkids to go on. Believe me, I have never had a kid tell me they were bored or had nothing to do.  There are a few food stands within the parks, as well as shops and games.

Overall, it's a great day and the kids love it.  It can be very crowded and if it's sunny, there's very little shade. Other than that, it's a perfect end of the year trip.

Just like the aquarium,you can take the Q or F to West 8th or the D or N to Stillwell.