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May 31, 2023

Stay Ahead of the Game: Early Preparation is Key for Teachers Preparing for a New School Year

The end of the school year can be hectic and exhausting, but next year will be here before you know it! Preparing early is the key to starting the year off on the right foot. Catch your breath and then consider these practical strategies to help you stay ahead of the game:

1. Reflect on the Current School Year.

What lessons were successful? What didn't go as planned? Did you have any behavior management challenges? Reflecting on the current year can help you make necessary adjustments for next year. Perhaps you noticed that your students struggled with a particular concept or skill. Or maybe you want to focus on building stronger relationships with your students and their families. By taking the time to reflect on the current year, you can set meaningful goals that will improve your teaching, your relationships, and your students' learning. 

2. Set Goals for Next Year.

Reflecting on the previous year can help you set goals for the upcoming school year. You could choose a few new strategies to try based on your reflections. By setting goals, you can find new and innovative ways to teach and improve learning. 

3. Plan Your Curriculum and Lessons in Advance.

Start by outlining your curriculum objectives and breaking them down into smaller, manageable units. This will allow you to focus on a few specific goals at a time and ensure that each lesson builds upon the previous one. When planning your lessons, consider the needs and interests of your students. Think about different learning styles and try to incorporate a variety of activities to keep students engaged and motivated. By planning ahead, you'll have more time to gather the necessary materials and resources for your lessons. 

4. Get Organized and Stock Up on Supplies.

Start by creating a list of the materials you need for your units. This could include books, workbooks, worksheets, manipulatives, and any other supplies you'll need for activities and projects. Consider creating a storage system that will make it easy for you to keep your materials organized throughout the year. Take some time to label your supplies and arrange them in a logical order. You could use color-coded bins or folders to identify the materials for each subject and unit. Finally, stock up on any additional supplies you may need throughout the year.  By taking advantage of the summer months, you can organize your classroom and label your supplies to save time and minimize stress once school begins. 

5. Attend Professional Development Opportunities.

Attending professional development opportunities is important to ensure that you are up-to-date on the latest teaching strategies and approaches. Professional development opportunities may include conferences, workshops, and online courses. These opportunities can provide you with new ideas, resources, and techniques to enhance your teaching skills. By attending professional development opportunities, you can network with other educators to share ideas and experiences. This can not only help to improve your teaching but also provide a sense of community. In addition, attending professional development opportunities can help you develop leadership skills. You could learn how to effectively lead teams and mentor other teachers, making you an invaluable asset to your school community.

6. Take Care of Yourself.

Teaching is an incredibly demanding job so it is important to take care of yourself. Make it a habit to prioritize your own physical and emotional well-being in order to avoid exhaustion and stay energized throughout the school year. One way to take care of yourself is to ensure you are getting enough sleep each night. Adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining focus and concentration, as well as for regulating moods and emotions. In addition to getting enough rest, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Eating a nutritious diet can help you feel more alert and energized. Regular exercise can boost energy levels and reduce stress, allowing you to feel more balanced and focused. Lastly, make time for activities that bring you joy and help you relax. Engaging in hobbies, spending time with family and friends, or practicing mindfulness can all help promote overall well-being. By prioritizing self-care, you can ensure that you are able to bring your best self to the classroom each day.

In conclusion, early preparation is key for preparing for a new school year. Reflecting on the current year, setting goals, planning curriculum and lessons in advance, getting organized, attending professional development opportunities, and taking care of yourself are all practical strategies that can help you stay ahead of the game. Remember, don't wait until the last minute - start preparing now and feel confident and ready for the new year! 

May 18, 2023

Help Kids Understand the True Meaning of Memorial Day - #HonorTheBrave

Memorial Day is more than a picnic and 3 day weekend! This federal holiday is a time to reflect on the sacrifice of the people who have served our country. Explaining the true meaning of Memorial Day to children is a significant and important way to honor those who've served and continue the tradition of remembering. 

1. Read The Wall by Eve Bunting

Check out Storytime With Tristan. There's an age-appropriate introduction and a lovely reading of the story.  Storytime Channel for Kids: Memorial Day Read Aloud - The Wall by Eve Bunting

2. Decorate a Bulletin Board or Make a Hallway Display

Find easy-to-make crafts and a quick writing prompt to create a display. Short on time? Check out this Memorial Day resource with writing prompts and crafts...

3. Learn About the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Consider these resources, but preview them first to determine appropriateness for your students...

Arlington National Cemetary Education Program - You'll find lesson plans, power points, links, and printables for elementary school and up.

Welcome to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetary

Depending on the maturity of your students, consider watching a changing of the guard ceremony as a conclusion to your lessons.

Get ready to make Memorial Day a meaningful and enriching experience for your students!

With faith and friendship,

May 5, 2023

100% Fun, 100% Educational: 3 End of School Year Math Games for Kids

Kids need a break from traditional math lessons as the end of the school year winds down. These math games are the perfect way to spice up the last few weeks of school by reviewing math concepts and having fun.

1. Math Bingo

Start by having students complete this FREE multiplication chart: 

Students then fold a blank piece of paper 4 times, unfold it, and trace over the fold lines. Using the multiplication chart, students fill in the 16 boxes with different products. Each product can only be used one time unless it appears on the chart more than once such as 24. Distribute bingo chips and begin play by calling out any multiplication problem on the chart. Students cover the product if they have it. The teacher can keep track of the facts called by crossing out the products as they are used. The first student to get 4 in a row wins! 

2. Math Scavenger Hunt

Write math problems on index cards and hide the cards around the classroom or outside. Pair students up and give them clues as to where to find each math problem. Students must solve each problem before trying to find the next one. The group that finishes first with correct answers wins!

3. Math Relay Race

Divide the class into 4 teams and have students form 4 lines outside. Divide a set of multiplication fact flashcards into sets of 4 and place them ahead so that students will run and pick one up. At your signal, the first student on each team runs, grabs a flash card, and brings it back to the next student in line to answer. When the correct answer is given, that student runs to the stack of flashcards, grabs one, and runs back to their team line. The teacher should supervise the lines to make sure the problems are being answered correctly. When an entire team finishes, that group sits down silently. The team that finishes and sits first wins!

Students will gain a better understanding of math concepts and be better prepared for next year. Get ready for some math-filled fun!

Check out some more math games that your class will love to play!

Whole Group Math Games

Multiplication Facts Review Activity

April 26, 2023

4 Spring Prompts For Writing Success

Spring is here and it's the perfect time to inspire your students to get creative with their writing. Students can respond to prompts in a spiral notebook. Try having them write from the top of the page to the second hole. The bottom half of the page can be used to draw a picture to match their writing.

Here are some fun and engaging spring writing prompts that will get your students excited to write:

1. Imagine you are a seed.

Describe your journey from being planted in the ground to growing into a beautiful flower.

2. Write a story about a group of animals preparing for a spring picnic.

What food do they bring and what games do they play?

3. Write about a new beginning.

Tell about a time when you had to start something new and how you overcame any challenges.

4. Describe your perfect spring day.

What activities would you do and who would you spend it with?

Journal writing can be used during your writing block, as morning work, or as an early finisher activity. Even reluctant writers may enjoy this form of expression!

Need something with a bit more structure? Try one of these spring craftivites:

Students will have some fun writing and you will have a great display! 

April 15, 2023

5 Activities To Do After Standardized Testing

After standardized testing, students deserve some fun and engaging activities to unwind and celebrate their hard work!

Here are five fun activities that can be used to help students relax and recharge after testing:

1. Game Day

Have a day dedicated to games and fun activities such as board games and puzzles. This is a great way to provide a break from academics and promote teamwork and social skills.

2. Art Day

Let students explore their creative side by providing a variety of materials such as paint, markers, and clay. 

3. STEM Challenge Day

Engage your students in STEM challenges that will promote problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Activities such as building structures with toothpicks and marshmallows can be both fun and educational.

4. Outside Games Day

Students will love playing some old-fashioned outdoor games. Try reintroducing them to Duck, Duck, Goose, Hopscotch, and Baby In The Air. Add a variety of relay games and delight in watching your students step back in time.

5. Movie Day

Choose a movie that aligns with your curriculum and have a movie day. This can be a great way to reinforce concepts learned during the school year while also providing a fun and relaxing activity. Movie days are great for the very last day of testing. I can already smell the popcorn! 

After all the hard work of standardized testing, these fun and engaging activities can help your students relax and recharge while also promoting teamwork, creativity, and critical thinking skills.

March 22, 2023

5 Ways to Teach Area and Perimeter

 Teaching area and perimeter can be both challenging and fun.

1. Start with real-world examples.

Students will see that it's practical to learn how to calculate area and perimeter if you use examples that are meaningful such as a soccer field, garden, or the classroom.

2. Get out the geoboards.

Have students make a rectangle and trade their board with a partner. Each student figures out the area and perimeter of their partner's board. Extend this activity by playing Quiz Quiz Trade with the boards.

3. Practice.

Provide students with worksheets for morning work and task cards during math stations. Use shapes made out of colorful wrapping paper or leftover scrapbook paper.

4. Use cheese crackers.

Students love this activity:

5. Design figures of a particular area and perimeter.

If you have 12 inch tile floors, students can work in pairs to make figures using some painter's tape. For example, have students create a figure that has a perimeter of 8 feet. Then have them find the area. On a smaller scale, use graph paper.

You may also like ideas about: 

Teaching Multiplication Facts

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March 13, 2023

How To Teach the Holy Trinity

Teaching the Holy Trinity can be a little tricky. Like many concepts, starting with a concrete lesson and proceeding to the abstract may help children begin to understand the Holy Trinity.

1. Use analogies.

Explain the Holy Trinity using simple analogies that children can understand. For example, just like water can exist in three forms (solid, liquid, and gas) but is still one substance, God exists in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) but is still one God. 

2. Use Bible Stories.

Use stories from the Bible to teach children about the Holy Trinity. For example, you can use the story of Jesus' baptism in the river Jordan, where the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and the voice of God the Father was heard from heaven, to explain how the three persons of the Holy Trinity are distinct but one.

3. Use Visual Aids.

Use visual aids such as pictures, diagrams, or videos to help children understand the concept of the Holy Trinity. You can use images of a three-leaf clover, triangle, or three interlocking circles to visually represent the three persons of the Holy Trinity.

This is a popular craft that can be used to teach the Holy Trinity:

Holy Trinity Craftivity

Even at an early age, children can begin to understand that God exists as one God in 3 Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

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February 27, 2023

Read Across America Day Ideas For Big Kids

4th Graders may be big kids, but most still like to be part of the Read Across America Day celebration.

Here are a few ideas that are fairly easy to implement:

1. Pair up with a buddy class for story time. 📘

If you are in a school with younger grades, try pairing up with Kindergarten or First Grade. The fourth graders can bring in picture books they liked when they were little to read to a younger buddy. Alternatively, the school librarian could help with book selection. Students can finish up with a snack and juice or even make it a reading picnic!

2. Play a Dr. Seuss book trivia game. 🤔

Create a trivia game using sentences from Dr. Seuss's books. Read each sentence and have students guess which Dr. Seuss book the sentence came from.

3. Schedule D.E.A.R. time. 📖

Drop Everything And Read! Do this with your class or get the whole school involved. Decide on a time and for 15 minutes everyone in the school drops everything and reads. 

4. Organize a book collection. 📚

Ask students to gather up books they have outgrown and donate them to an organization in need.

5. Start a book club. 📕

Students may want to be part of a small group reading the same book. Assist students in getting started by looking for multiple copies of the book. You can ask the librarian, check local thrift stores, or borrow from a colleague. 

Even big kids can enjoy Read Across America Day!☆

Additional posts about READING:

5 Ways to Teach Reading Comprehension

Benefits of Read Alouds in the Classroom

10 Ways to Promote Reading at Home

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February 13, 2023

The Benefits of Buddy Classes in School

Buddy classes in school are when two classes from different grade levels, usually a higher and lower grade, are paired together. The purpose of buddy classes is to foster relationship building, provide mentorship, and extend the school community.

Benefits of buddy classes in school include:

  1. Positive relationships are developed between the younger and older students, which can help to create a more positive school environment.
  2. The older students can act as mentors for the younger students, helping to explain concepts and provide guidance.
  3. The younger students can practice their social skills with the older students.
  4. Younger students receive individual help with tasks.
  5. The buddy system provides all students with a sense of belonging to the school community.

Buddy classes can meet monthly, quarterly, or as the need arises. You could start by scheduling a few days throughout the year, and add more days if desired.

Here are some buddy class ideas you can start out with:

Math Games
Reading Games
Review Games
Planting Seeds
Monthly Themed Crafts
Reading Picture Books
Making Cards for Veterans or Seniors
Special Day Activities (100 Day, Read Across America Day, etc.)
Holiday Projects
Making Posters
Studying for a Quiz or Test
Flash Cards
Scavenger Hunts
Readers' Theater 
Poem Reading and Writing

The possibilities for buddy classes are endless!

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February 6, 2023

4 Lent Activities for Families

Children can develop a closer relationship with God during Lent. Lent activities revolve around prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. 

Here are a few Lenten activities you may want to try:

1. Make a prayer jar. 

Have children write a prayer each day, and place it in the jar. 

You can add a prayer choice board...

Or a use a  prayer box instead of a jar...

An alternative could be to set up a prayer writing center...

2. Make Lenten crosses.

Gather small sticks and tie them together with string. You can even use the crosses to make a Lenten garden!

3. Participate in a Lenten fast.

Brainstorm a list of items that children could possibly give up during Lent (electronics, cookies, candy, etc.) Have students choose one to give up.

4. Give to others.

This may be a good time to sort out clothes and toys that are outgrown to donate to charity. Children may be able to help with a service project during lent. They could also help clean out the pantry or go shopping to choose items to donate to a food pantry. 

Choose an activity to complete during Lent, and watch the children grow closer to God!

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January 26, 2023

Formative Assessment Types That Students Will Love!

 Formative assessment can be fun and creative!

1. Break students into groups and challenge them to put on a skit. 

Skits work with almost any content area! They can be used to show understanding of a particular reading passage, a timeline of events in social studies, problem-solving in math, or a process in science. 

2. Have students create a quiz.

Students could create a short quiz on a topic and exchange it with a partner. The partner groups could then have a discussion about the questions and answers.

Another option would be for students to submit questions and you could select a few to create a quiz. 

3. Use self-evaluation charts in your classroom.

From time to time, ask students to rate their learning. Students are quite aware of how well they are grasping the material you are teaching, so simply ask them! These charts have been super helpful in getting quick feedback from students. Students rate their understanding on a scale of 1 - 5. There is no 0 because being ready to learn counts! You're sure to smile when students rate themselves an off-the-charts 10!

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January 6, 2023

5 Ways to Celebrate the 100th Day of School for Big Kids

 Big kids can celebrate the 100th Day of School too! 

1. Create a 100th-Day of School time capsule.

Have the students write letters to themselves about what they've learned in school so far and what they hope to learn. Put the letters in a time capsule to be opened up on the 150th or 175th day of school. No need to spend any money...roll up the letters and stick them in an empty paper towel roll.

2. Have a 100th-Day of School scavenger hunt.

Create a list of 100 items for the students to find around the school, in their classrooms, and on the playground. Students may enjoy working with a partner for this activity. Play for fun or for small prizes.

3. Partner up with a younger buddy class.

The big kids will love to work with the little ones on 100th-Day activities, and the teachers will appreciate the help. Have the big kids help the little ones make 100th-Day crowns or complete one of the many activities here:

100th Day of School Activities

4. Celebrate with a 100th-Day party!

Have 100th-Day snacks such as a Twinkie and 2 mini donuts to make the number 100 or have students make trail mix with 100 pieces of snacks. Play music from 100 years ago!

5. Have a 100th-Day photo shoot.

Take pictures of your 100th-Day activities and party. The photos will look extra special if students dress as if they're 100 years old!

Make sure to join in on the fun!

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With faith and friendship,