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I get the cutest handwriting fonts at Fonts for Peas! kevinandamanda.com/fonts

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Co-hosts:   An Apple for the TeacherTheBeezyTeacherLockwood’s Little LearnersStar Kids by NaomiLittle Learning Corner,  The Froggy FactoryMs. KJackie Crews180 Days of ReadingMrs. Wennings ClasroomMickey’s PlaceAngelica’s ResourcesSimoneA Teacher and her Cat, and The Homeschool Style-Katie Ring.

Prize: $100 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: 

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)

Co-hosts:   An Apple for the TeacherTheBeezyTeacherLockwood’s Little LearnersStar Kids by NaomiLittle Learning Corner,  The Froggy FactoryMs. KJackie Crews180 Days of ReadingMrs. Wennings ClasroomMickey’s PlaceAngelica’s ResourcesSimoneA Teacher and her Cat, and The Homeschool Style-Katie Ring.

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Happy Independence Day1

Entertain Your Children Outside with a Mystery!

I’ve posted before here about The Golden Angle, the mysterious 137.5 degree angle that appears in nature and, and my students’ explorations with finding it outside here and here. Recently, I was showing someone about the Golden Angle and how amazing it was in nature. This prompted me to see if I could find it in other places besides an oak tree leaf and grass. Well guess what?! I did. Taking time for a tiny nature walk collection in my yard yielded some more amazement!

With most leaves, I found that lining one side of my angletron tool up to the stem allowed the other side to hit the first vein in the leaf.

Fig tree leaf immediately below:

Shrub leaves below:

Notice how the branches separate at the 137.5 degree angle below.

Nut grass, as my mom calls it, is below. I’ve notices the regular lawn grass grows this way, too when it goes to seed.

I love intriguing math mysteries, and I hope you enjoy them, too.

Not long after I started plucking leaves out of my yard, I noticed a mathy friend of mine posted something on social media about the number 137. Strangley enough, this number is a really big deal to physicists and called the fine-structure constant! Who knew?!

I Want to Be Kind

I rarely leave kindergarten without a story to tell about the events that happened while I was there. The story I am about to relate is probably my favorite one from the whole year.

I taught my normal lesson, and at some point during the time, I needed children to pull out a glue stick. It rarely fails that at least one child is without a glue stick when I ask them to pull one out. When one child let me know he didn’t have a glue stick another child readily volunteered his. I spoke to the one who lent the glue stick and said, “Thank you Johnny for being kind.” Immediately after this tears erupted from close by. Why the tears, you ask? The tears were accompanied by these words. ” I wanted to be kind…I wanted to be kind.”

I love the rawness of kindergarten–raw emotion. There is no holding back as with adults or grown up children. In fact, I think most adult behaviors could be explained with a trip to kindergarten.

In all honesty, don’t we all want to be recognized for being kind? In many cases, we as adults aren’t kind because it helps someone or because it is the right thing to do. We do it because in our pride we selfishly want accolades for our kindness.

Make Kids Cheer About Trash!

This was probably one of the best projects we did this year. My students made amazing U.S. landmarks from recycled items. Part of the challenge was to include a circuit that lit up. Students accomplished this with Christmas lights. Even if they didn’t bring their project to completion, all students gained more understanding of the landmark they studied and where it was located on a map. In the current educational world where social studies time is lacking, I am grateful for their learning. See some of their work below.


What’s a State Blitz and Should You Be Having One?

This little adventure began with me asking students if they could name the capitol of their state when I by happenstance was watching a classroom for a few minutes while the teacher stepped out. Do you know I called on seven….SEVEN…children before one could identify the capitol of their own state. The children I asked were of the age that they should have known this. Further, I work in a good school! They all lived in the capitol to make matters worse. Before you develop an inflated view of the school you teach in, I challenge you to pose the same question to your students to see what they say.

After asking children this question, I was prompted to do a Geography Bee. Too, this supported the teachers who are teaching an exhaustive reading curriculum with very little time to teach science or social studies. Round one was to name all of the states. Only one student out of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade was able to accomplish this. Less than 10 students named 40 or more states. Now for the whopper–more than 30% of students weren’t able to identify their own state on a U.S. map!! Could this be happening where you live, too?!

As a result, I borrowed some older children the last few days of school to do a blitz of our state all over the building. I had 40 state cut out-outs, and about 20 maps. Then I had children color them on a U.S. map. My helpers were so cunning that they even plastered a few outside the school building! See some examples below so that you can maybe make your very own state blitz.

Side note: I also love this video which shows the 50 states while they are highlighted during the song.

Fun Lesson-X Marks the Spot

Feast your eyes on this fun lesson I did with K, 1st, and 2nd grade students. Since the motivation was high, all surprisingly were able to accomplish the task. This started out with a discussion about compass directions. I brought a compass and we all became little human compasses standing up with one arm as our compass needle. We pointed out which direction was north, south, east, and west. One student in the class always points out the acronym–Never East Soggy Waffles so that they can remember the directions.

I tell students treasure is hidden in their classroom and we are going to create a treasure map so that they can find the treasure. The treasure they find out laster is pieces of candy. For this I only hide three pieces. Not all of the children will get one and they understand this from the beginning. It creates a little needed competition.

Students are introduced to a compass rose and we add that to the map first. Everything else is added in relation to compass directions. I ask the children to imagine they are a little bird flying over the room. Their job is to think of large pieces of furniture that they might fly over as a landmark. I have the children copy my map as we make it together. I periodically stop to ask what other landmarks we should add. At the end I mark X’s where the three treasures are hidden.

If the children have been following along with their map and made a good effort, I allow them to search for treasure. However, if they have been fooling around and not copying the map and labels, I have them sit until they have done it correctly while the others hunt. Having the children use their own treasure maps to hunt reinforces two things–working hard and following a map with directions.

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Does Your School Have a Social Studies Crisis?

Does your school have a social studies crisis? Or your district? I really don’t think it is just my school. I believe it is a mindset in education. Teach children to read for the whole day, and squeeze in an hour of math. If you have time maybe you can throw in science and social studies once a week for 30 minutes.

This is typical and explains why when I walked into a room, no one could tell me the capitol of their state. Disheartened, I left the room. After some thought, I decided to do a geography bee with all the intermediate grades. Round 1 was to name every state. VERY few could do this. This showed me that many of our students don’t even. know the very state they should call home. Do your students know their states? If not, Super Teacher Worksheets is a great place to stop for these resources! I used their numbered map below for my round 1 and gave students other maps to study for preparation….but hey…maybe your students know ALL of their states.

Take Advantage of Downtime! Try this!

Well, as I was sitting in a meeting–you know the ones that aren’t productive–most school meetings– I thought, hmm I am going to work on helping students. While I listened to teachers talk about the problems they have with students not learning their math facts (3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers) I made some visual aids to help while kids are wasting time waiting. Honestly, I am at the point of anger with the way we are teaching math. I am glad we are learning to reason about math facts, but after a half of a page of watching a child try to compute an easy math problem there must be a more efficient way!

Now, here are few samples of what I made. I posted them wherever I thought children would be standing for long periods of time. I expected nothing from this other than the hopes that children would learn.

The kids said, “Did you put those signs up?”

I replied, “What makes you think that?” :).

Of course I told them that yes it was me. AND, do you know what??!! They said, “Thank you!”

I was floored and not expecting that!

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