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What Should You Do the First Days of School?

If you are like me you find it a challenge to plan lessons for the beginning of the school year and the end of the school year. For some reason these times of the year are the most difficult for me to plan lessons for and to think through. There is the obvious teaching rules and procedures, but what do you do after that? You can do this. Hit the easy button.

Did you know Super Teacher Worksheets has so many resources you can use for any time of year…even the beginning. Here is a sampling of some of their beginning of year activities…

If you don’t have a subscription, the low price is so worth the cost and a great value. I use my subscription many times a year! At $24.95 this works out to only 47 cents per week if you count all 52 weeks a year. What a steal!

How You Can Decorate Your Classroom

I have been thinking over how I would like to add new decor to my classroom this summer. Last year the “electricity police” came by and told me I have to take down my Christmas lights! I had about four clear light strands hanging from the ceiling from corner to corner. WAAAAAA! This made me sad for weeks. The lights made me happy immediately when I switched them on in the room. The children loved them…and truth be told…maybe I loved them even more. The lights worked so nicely when we watched something on the SMART board since it added an ambient light. They told me that maybe if they were LED it would have been different. I’m not sure if they were trying to save energy or looking out for hazards. I decided to use my creativity to think of something else. I shopped on Amazon and got these beautiful silver circles which I hope provide some of the same effect…I will let you know how it turns out!

I Didn’t Take Home the Class Pet, but I Did Take These!

You would think I must have thrown out the old science experiment which we begin in the fall. If you have followed my blog before, you would have seen our LOVE and HATE jars science experiment. I never threw them out but let them sit the rest of the year. I honestly thought it would make the experiment go awry. Very few kids talked to them if at all since January. I kept telling the kids we would smell them and open them on the last day of school. Very few kids came on that day, but we opened them. The smell was even more pronounced than the original 30 days of experiment. The jars had basically sat in the room for 5ish months. Again this experiment blows my mind every time! What an amazing weapon our mouth is for good or evil towards others! If you do choose to do this experiment, I recommend doing the strawberries because the smell is much easier on the nose. However, the rice shows. a more dramatic visual effect.

So, how could I throw out such an amazing quantum physics experiment! I took it home for the summer. It sits in the kitchen on the floor by a window. Sometimes I talk to the jars–strawberries of 2023!

An Excuse to Go Outside! Teach Weather!

In the warm months children love to go outside while at school. I like an opportunity to take them! Teaching lessons like these will be sure to give you some outdoor time. Warning here…I front loaded content before we got a whole lot of outdoor time. I bought a couple of units on TPT to give me some lesson advice, but after the students got the content, I moved forward from there. After having a silly group of kids the year before, I adjusted the way I let children interact. I will give you a brief overview here to guide your steps.

Teach content. I kept the content I taught simple but left a lot of the content learning up to the children’s research. Using ideas from the units I bought along with my own ideas, I taught the following…

1–temperature and how to read a thermometer (a thermometer journal is a good idea!)

2–what are high and low pressure. We built a simple barometer and checked the pressure

3–wind speed. We observed and recorded an anemometer outside on a still and on a windy day. I had a store bought one, but you can make one with plastic or paper cups.

4–The terminology of the weather symbols and fronts. What do the symbols mean on the maps?

5–Learn what precipitation is. How is it calculated? Build a rain gauge if you like. I assigned this as a homework assignment one year. (start saving your water bottles now)

6–I had children watch meteorologists and how they presented the weather. They had to watch at least 10 forecasts from different news channels. One child said this was her least favorite, but I think it was very beneficial. Discuss the forecasters intonation, hand motions, and public speaking.

7–Next, children made a weather map on state maps I ordered. Most state highway departments will mail you free ones if you ask. (Order them now. It can take a while.)

8–Then I followed some of the resources I bought more closely because I had them write a five day forecast. (students had to have 2 weather backgrounds. One had to be the weak forecast and the other was their weather map.)

9–I had them write a script for their forecast.

10–Last step for the children was to have them film their forecast with an iPad mini. If you can trust your students the iPad videos turned out really nicely. If you can’t trust your group with a little independence (I did this with 3rd grade), you may want to have them do their forecast in person.

We showcased these to parents and they enjoyed them!

What is the Pile of Possibilities?

Since I currently teach GT, I usually have a collection of junk lying around. I especially have extra junk and recyclables when we are working on a project. This would work well for an art teacher or anyone who is making a project with recyclable items. I decided to name my junk container to spark more imagination in the room. It is now called the “Pile of Possibilities” after reading the book the Fantastic Bureau of Imagination.

I recently was introduced to a book called the Federal Bureau of Imagination. This book is so fun! You must read it to your child audience! There is another book coming soon after that called Failabrations! I can’t wait to read it!

I hope these books start the imagination in your classroom also!

Do Your Pencils Need a Trip to the Gym?

Since my classroom has “marker heaven” and “marker jail“, we thought it could use a pencil gym. This is a place where pencils go to get into shape. This would also be knows as the pencil sharpener. I hope you can incorporate some of this fun into your classroom!

Happy Easter!

Students love the mystery when you hide any kind of items that take them away from the traditional pencil and paper work of the classroom. Take advantage of this when Easter comes around and hide things inside eggs and place them around your classroom or nearby outside. Questions could be stuffed inside eggs. Clues could be stuffed inside eggs. Use the fun of the spring season to boost mystery in your lessons! (Also, snatch up some plastic eggs on clearance when Easter is over at a fraction of the cost!)

Do Your Students Not Follow Directions? Try this!

To increase efficiency, when I am teaching very young children such as in kindergarten, I do this. After my lesson, I say, “okay, step one think.” I elaborate on what I want them to think about. I hold my finger up to my temple and tap it like I am thinking. I see the children imitating this when they go back to their seats from sitting at the carpet.

Then I say, “Step two glue.” (or whatever I want step two to be.) I hold my hand out in front of me and lightly slap the back of my hand like I am gluing something down. The children do this with me.

Then I say, “Step 3. add details.” I hold up both of my index fingers like I am making little dots everywhere with my fingers. After I have explained everything I want the students to do, I have the students repeat the whole process with me. It sounds something like this…

“Okay, what is step one?” The students tell me with hand motions.

“What is step two? The students tell me with hand motions.

“What is step three? Again the students tell me with hand motions.

Then I send them to their seats and they sometimes get the directions out of order, but it is easy to refer to the step one, step two, or step three because they remember when they are listed succinctly like that. I have had a lot of success with students following directions in this step one, step two, and step three fashion. Most children can hold three things in their minds to work towards. I hope this helps improve your classroom management!

Can You Find Lucky the Leprechaun?

Part 1

Sometimes you just have to do things that are fun to make your own self enjoy your job. The stress of multiple meetings, testy parents, and paperwork can wear on you. To help myself enjoy work, I do something just for FUN that the kids will love because it makes me happy!

So this week I bought two leprechauns at Hobby Lobby, a fun hat, and some shamrock stickers. I cut out a bunch of shamrocks die cuts and a sign that says, “Where is Lucky the Leprechaun?”–all of which I stuck to the wall. I hid the little leprechaun statue outside in a small bush near my door. The students have been looking all over for it. They needed a little mystery and fun before spring break! Truth be told. So do I. After two days no one has found the leprechaun. We will see what tomorrow holds.

Part 2

Okay so I normally go overboard! This week is no exception. I brainstormed one morning while fixated on my leprechaun scavenger hunt idea. I made some clues for my classroom so the students could eventually be led to the leprechaun and his pot of gold. Here are my clues. Maybe you can use these and adapt them to your room to make your own classroom hunt. I taped each clue in succession onto different items to help students find the leprechaun.

  1. Dear Children, Is the leprechaun too old or is he just hiding his gold? Take some TIME to follow the clues he left behind. (hide near clock)
  2. Don’t give him an inch! He might be under the bench. (hide under bench)
  3. Where does a leprechaun live? Under a rainbow or does he share a house with a mouse? (side under a computer mouse)
  4. Sneaky little guy! Could he have left some of his stash near the trash? (hide near trash can)
  5. Is he able to hide under the table? (hide under table)
  6. Beware he might even be under a chair! (hide under chair)
  7. At night he likes to lie on a pillow and sometimes he can be found looking out the window. (hide near window))
  8. Oh no! Danger! He likes to climb on a cord that’s near the board. (hide near board)
  9. Ah! You caught him!!Leprechauns want you to show you care by taking time to share. (Share all of the gold with your class.)

I had two leprechaun searches going. One outside in a bush for anyone who walked by (with no written clues) and another in my room for my students. The clues in my room I taped to their respective spots. I used Rolos chocolate candies in a small plastic cup for the leprechauns pot of gold. In essence your really could do any search hunt with these clues. Have fun and enjoy!

Part 3–after the hunts…

The outdoor hunt, which was for anyone who walked by, needed some extra information for students to find the actual leprechaun. I hid him in too difficult a place. I didn’t think it would be that hard. I came outside the last hour of the day and gave the students oral clues to help them find him. I gave the other students looking at the same time some shamrock stickers–not quite a pot of gold but still fun for all. I did give the winner some “gold”. If the students actually searching outside had been my students, I would have put more thought into making up written clues.

The classroom hunt took about 10 minutes and we still had time to do my main lesson. I would do the indoor one again for which I posted the clues above.

Morse Code Mania

Tell students they will learn a secret language, and you have their attention! We recently studied the life story of Thomas Edison followed by the study of electricity. Edison was a telegraph operator in his younger years. So as a result of our study we learned Morse code. Students solved puzzles, created their own puzzles, and then solved each others. I told students if they made a puzzle for the class to solve that I would duplicate it on the copier.

One day I took a Morse code puzzle a student had created and placed it on our exit door. His puzzle said, “Hello, how are you?” in Morse code. Without thinking much, I told children to read the message. Some wanted to answer the other students, so I attached it with tape to the door and gave them sticky notes to answer the child. When they finished their work, they were eager to read the other messages and create responses to attach to the door. As you can see, this turned out to be a hit.

I have found a couple of free Morse code puzzles on the internet, but most of their practice came from writing and solving each others. I word of caution if you have children create their own puzzles. Make sure to have the children leave plenty of space between the words because it can get confusing if they don’t when words (dots and dashes) run into each other.

Bonus! Hobby Lobby is the best! Look at this great Morse Code decoration I found there, which also lent itself to discussion about the way military people communicate for clarification with ALPHA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, etc.




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