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August 19, 2021

Week of Respect Ideas

Many schools participate in Week of Respect. It's a week for accepting and celebrating differences while discovering common interests.  Check out some ways to incorporate a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T into your lessons!

1. Use morning announcements to make suggestions for showing respect.

These ideas could be separated into categories such as respect for family, respect for friends, respect for animals, respect in public places, respect for the environment, etc. 

2. Create kindness rocks.

Students paint rocks with inspirational messages and hide them around the community for others to find. You never know who you may inspire! 

3. Make a new friend.

Challenge students to play with someone new during recess.

4. Write messages about respect on the sidewalks.

Students could research quotes and use sidewalk chalk to motivate others.

5. Have a respect your elders day. 

Have students make cards or pictures for nursing home and assisted living residents.

6. Have a theme week. 

Examples to include:  

Have a Mismatch Clothes Day to remind us that we may be different but we can all get along.

Another day could be Team Jersey Day to show that we may belong to different teams but we all enjoy the game.

7.  Have students complete a choice board:

The benefits of Week of Respect activities just may continue throughout the school year!  

July 13, 2021

Teaching Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing is fun to teach!

1. Start with a concrete object such as chewing gum. 

Hold up a pack of gum and have students help you tell a little story about the pack of gum without using the word gum. Guide students in using their 5 senses for this task. Ask students what they see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. Together, you may come up with something like this:

I tore open the small pink pack and removed one of the pieces. The sweet smell got to my nose before it reached my mouth. After chewing for a minute, I blew a bubble as big as my face! Pop! I peeled the sticky mess off my face and began chewing again.

2. Play a guessing game!

Divide the class into small groups of about 4 students. Distribute bags with familiar objects such as sunglasses, umbrella, hair brush, baseball, football, mittens, etc. to each group. Each group keeps their object a secret and writes a descriptive paragraph about it.  Have each group read their paragraph while the rest of the class tries to determine what the hidden object is by the description. 

You may want to explain that non-food items won't have a taste or possibly not a smell, but parts of the story may contain taste or smell. For example, if a group had mittens, the story could include hot chocolate which could have a taste and smell. The umbrella story could include the smell of rain, and the baseball story could include the taste of a ballpark hotdog. 

3. Once students have this concrete experience, proceed with some prompts like these:

Students will love descriptive writing!

May 9, 2021

5 End of School Year Ideas

As you wrap up the school year, consider these fun activities for your class!

1. Plan a reading picnic. 

Have students bring beach towels to school and head outside with a few favorite books and some snacks!

2. Allow the fidgets to come to school.

The fidgets can stay in backpacks until a time near the end of the day. Then let them play and show their favorites. Whether it's the newest pop-it type fidget or a craze from a previous year, students are sure to have fun!

Extend the idea to Fidget Spinner Day and make it a bit more educational with this resource:

3. Have a Board Game Day.

Students love to bring in their favorite board games to play with their classmates! Consider having a chat about taking good care of classmates' games and keeping track of parts and pieces prior to the start of play.

4. Write letters to next year's class.

Have students write letters to the students who will be in your class next year. They can start with Dear friend, and write about all the fun times to look forward to and survival tips!

5. Have a program for parents and guardians.

Consider inviting parents and guardians into class for a celebration of accomplishments. Each student could be recognized with an end-of-year award. 

Follow with a slide show of students holding a chalkboard sign indicating what they would like to be when they grow up. Use background music such as "My Wish" by The Rascal Flatts. End the event with light refreshments. 

The end of the school year is sure to be memorable for students!

April 20, 2021

3 Easy Mother's Day Gift Ideas

The tradition of creating Mother's Day gifts in school can continue even with varying family structures. As Mother's Day approaches, you can explain that students can make a gift for a very special grown-up in their lives. Some students may make a gift for their mom while others may make a gift for a different special grown-up who takes care of them. This explanation tends to put students at ease as they can decide individually who to make a gift for. 

The 3 gifts that follow are relatively inexpensive and easy to create.

1. Real Flower in a Terracotta Flower Pot

Materials needed include terracotta flower pots, potting soil, spoons for filling the pots with soil, gloves, and a flat of flowers to plant. Students could sponge paint the flower pot before planting if desired. This gift gets bonus points for doubling as a mini science lesson! 

2. Photo Holder

This photo holder is made with a mini glass flower pot, layers of clay, and fine green wire. These materials can be purchased at your local craft supply store. Add a school photo of students for an easy project that parents and guardians love!

3. Chore Coupons

Coupon books can be made with construction paper and tied together with a ribbon. Another option is to have students make this card:

Students will have fun making a gift for their very special grown-up! 

April 5, 2021

Jackie Robinson Day and Baseball Lesson Plans

Jackie Robinson is a legend who can be celebrated for his contribution to the All American Game and for his role in civil rights. Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated on April 15th each year.

If you need to refresh your own background of Jackie Robinson, you could start at the Baseball Hall of Fame site for a brief history. Consider sharing the plaque in 3D with your students. 

Jackie Robinson Exhibit

Although there is no shortage of information on Jackie Robinson, the age group and maturity of your students will be something you want to consider. The Duckster's content appears to be kid-friendly, but preview for yourself, of course! The kids may find it surprising that Jackie excelled at many sports!

Jackie Robinson Biography on Ducksters

Once your kiddos have studied Jackie Robinson and his amazing contribution to not only baseball but to society as well, they may enjoy some more baseball-themed content.

1. Classroom, Bulletin Board, and Hallway Displays

These crafts with writing would be a great addition to your spring displays:

Baseball Craftivity

2. Theme Days

  • If you are celebrating your hometown Opening Day, consider having a sports theme jersey day. Students could wear their own team jerseys from any sport or wear a shirt that shows their favorite team.
  • Baseball cap day could be another fun theme!

3. Snacks and Treats

  • You could cook hotdogs in a crockpot to serve the kids. Prepare a few extra because you'll have fellow staff members stopping by as the smell of the ballpark whiffs down the hall! 
  • Another fun treat would be bubble gum!

4. Fun Worksheets and Printables

  • Check out these free downloads from the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Baseball Hall of Fame Free Downloads

  • Students love the variety of these sports theme exit tickets:

Sports Theme Exit Tickets

5. Class Rewards

  • Consider a class prize of extra recess during baseball season...to play whiffle ball, obviously!
  • Finally, if time allows, watch a baseball movie. Although my all-time favorite is The Sandlot, a lesser-known film called Everyone's Hero is well-liked by students and it's rated G!

Students are sure to enjoy learning about Jackie Robinson and a bit about baseball this spring...

Play ball! 

March 18, 2021

Math Game Time

Math games can help students practice basic facts and other skills throughout the school year. Math game time can be a time set aside on a Friday or during learning stations. 

One easy game to set up during math stations or on math game day is a bump game. Bump games are easy to make, easy to set up, and easy to play!

Here is an example of an Easter theme bump game:

Materials for Bump Games:

A printable game board for each pair of students

10 - 15 chips or math cubes for each student (Partners will need different colors.)

Pair of dice

Directions for 2 Players:

Players take turns rolling the 2 dice and multiplying the numbers.

If the product is not occupied, the player places a chip on the product.

If the product is already occupied by the player's own chip, the player stacks a chip. 

If the product is occupied by the opponent's chip, the player bumps it off and replaces it with their own.

If the player rolls a product that is occupied by the opponent's stacked chips, the player loses their turn as stacked chips may not be bumped.

The player that plays all chips first is the winner!

Making a Bump Game:

Bump game boards are easy to make!

Start with a background or some graphics of the desired theme such as a holiday, space, carnival, etc. 

Create 18 spots for these numbers: 2, 4, 6, 8, 9 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 24, 25, 28, 30, 32, 36

Print and play!

For a more challenging game, use 10 or 12 sided dice and adjust the products on the game board accordingly.

Pressed for time? Here is the link to the Easter Multiplication Bump Game pictured above:

Easter Multiplication Bump Game

Once students learn how to play, challenge them to create their own game board either by hand or on a computer. Give students time to partner up and try out their games! 

March 4, 2021

6 Formative Assessments You Can Use Today

Formative assessments give students a chance to show where they are in their learning. Teachers can use the information provided on formative assessments to plan instruction, form groups, or initiate remediation. Formative assessments don't have to be fancy or take a lot of time to plan, and there are many options.

 Here are a few examples of formative assessments that are easy to implement and adapt to different grade levels and subject areas:

1. 60 Second Summary

After instruction, give students 60 seconds to write as much as they can about the topic. This can be on a large index card, sheet of paper, or digitally if you prefer. Read through students' responses to check for understanding. Make note of any area of instruction that may need clarifying or reteaching.

2. Draw A Picture

Students of all ages will enjoy drawing a picture to show what they have learned. The picture can be drawn on an unlined index card or a blank sheet of paper. Encourage students to label their pictures and use descriptions as needed. Check for understanding and perhaps invite a few students to share their pictures.

3. Exit Tickets

Exit tickets come in many varieties and can be general or specific to a particular lesson. A simple exit ticket would be to have students respond to a question during or at the end of a lesson using a sticky note. Students write their responses and stick the note on the board or on a prepared chart. Printable exit tickets provide variety. They can be used at the end of a lesson and collected or used as a ticket out the door. Students love these sports theme exit tickets that can be used with just about any subject area!


Or perhaps your kids prefer to be rock stars!

4. Make A Connection

Research shows that we learn new information by connecting it to what we already know. Ask students to respond to "This reminds me of...." They can be encouraged to relate the lesson to an experience that they have had, a book or article they have read, a person that they know, or something that has occurred in the world. 

5. Hand Signals

Students raise up fingers to indicate understanding. This is perhaps the quickest way to assess students' understanding. Simply ask the class how they feel they are doing with a topic and let them respond. These charts go from 1 to 5. Gotta love it when the students hold up 10 fingers to let you know they feel so confident that they are off the charts!

6. 3 - 2 - 1 Exit Slips

These exit slips are a bit more specific. You can make the numbers represent whatever you wish, but here are some common ones for students to list:

3 things you learned, or 3 new concepts

2 questions you still have, or 2 connections you have made, or 2 new words or phrases you have learned

1 opinion you have, or a picture that shows your understanding

Formative assessments are quick, easy, and useful!