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Lesson Ideas

More Free and Editable AMI—Electricity

So, before the rest of the year became virtual, my students wanted to learn about electricity. I was rather disappointed that we wouldn’t get to learn about electricity, so I decided to give them my best effort at a week with AMI electricity learning. Below are my plans. You are welcome to copy, paste and adapt them for your students.

Learn About Electricity


1.Unsafe electric conditions.
Watch this.
Now, look around your house. Do you see any unsafe electricalconditions in your house? Tell your parents

2. How does electricity get to your house? Watch this.

3. Again with your parent’s permission turn on all the lights andmany items that use electricity. Go back and read the meter. Writedown the number. How did it change, and what did you notice?

4. Ask your parents if they can let you see all of the electric bills. Make a bar graph or line graph to show the cost of electricity foreach month for the last year. Which month was most expensive forelectricity? Why do you think so? Discuss this with your parents.

5. Build a lemon battery. This is a rather involved project, but youcan get all the materials at Wal-Mart. You can find alligator clipsand small light bulbs in the automotive section.

6. Read your electric meter outside. Write down the number, Beforeyou do this, turn off as many lights and appliances as possible. Askyour parents’ permission before you go outside, if you’re not surewhat your electric meter looks like or how to read it watch this.

7. Take a picture and post it to Dojo. Did you get the lemon battery to work? Do you think other fruits or vegetables would work? Which ones?


I know number 7 is a little steep to ask of parents, but some students might accomplish this and what a much better idea than playing video games all day!

Free and Editable AMI Enrichment with Fibonacci Sequences!

I recently set up chat groups for my students, so that I could talk to them during these AMI days that we are wading through. One of the comments from a student was “are you ‘board’ to death?” Other kids chimed in that they were indeed bored, too! I had already been thinking on what I could do to make my 5th graders’ lives more interesting.

As a result, I made these “Optional but Fun Activities”. Students predominately explore Fibonacci sequences, find examples of them, draw a golden rectangle, and draw artwork using Fibonacci Spirals. One of the activities allows them to go outside, which I think is so important with them being tied to a screen all day! I hope you can use this and your kids can get some enjoyment out of it too! The below videos will give you an idea about Fibonacci sequences if you don’t already know about them.

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Subtraction Flash Cards Like You Have Never Used Them…

I remember teaching subtraction before I learned the strategies to teach with. I used to tell kids to “learn all your 1’s, then learn all your 2’s, and then your 3’s etc., but it really seemed that many of the kids stayed on the same subtraction facts for a long time and never learned them. As a result, I made this packet of flashcards but with strategies attached so that children could have a pattern to which to attach their learning. If our minds can find a pattern then it is much easier to learn something and remember it. These also have printable backs to make your life easier!

There are suggestions for how to use them and place them so that patterns are easier to learn. For example, see below…

Here is the tried and true think addition strategy that everyone knows…

How about subtracting 9…what a doozy for many kids! This strategy helps you think of using 10 as a helper in subtraction to get the answers for subtracting 9.

I have included a chart with 16 different ways to group subtraction facts for teaching patterns. All of your students may not need all 16 ways and many of the strategies repeat facts so that students have multiple ways to think of getting the answer if they need them.

Take a moment to stop by TPT and view the preview.


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Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Enrichment Lesson for K and 1st

First, get a small box. I have a small glittery box I bought for a dollar at the Dollar Tree. With the mystery box students have to guess what is inside. They have to ask me 10 questions that have yes or no answers before I will let them guess what is inside the box.

At one school I work at the students are quicker to guess items and so I gave them no hints. At the other school, the students required hints. You will need to do the mystery box activity with them several times before they get the hang of how to ask good questions. Anyways, so I put a feather in the box.

Next, I tell them to imagine they have a pet turkey but that he got very sick and lost all of his feathers. As a result he will be very cold this winter so what will we do to keep him warm?

Then I give students a picture with a turkey that has no feathers. I honestly found some black and white turkey clip art and then printed it. I would share it with ya’ll but I literally cut it with scissors and pasted it on a white sheet of paper and ran copies. I told students to draw a picture of what they would do for their turkey and they did. I also told students I was looking for original ideas about how to keep the turkey warm. I got plenty of non original ideas like feathers, a blanket, a cover etc. The original responses were such things as give him medicine for his feathers to grow, build a fire, put him in the oven, build him a house, and a HOT TUB (which was my favorite).

After this I show them the story of this bird who lost all her feathers. This bird gained lots of fans and people mailed her sweaters from all over the world. Now, I have tried this lesson showing the video before I have the kids come up with their ways to keep their turkey warm and I like showing the video last because it doesn’t influence the students’ originality.

In closing have the students with original ideas show their work.


Ahhhh! Spiders!

Now, I must say, I had some absolute fun teaching spiders during the month of October. I did about four 30 minute enrichment lessons and I pulled resources form everywhere. I am going to tell you about what I did because it may give you some ideas to teach your own students.

Lesson 1: I had students write and draw a spider with the body parts they knew to get a general idea of what they already knew. Then I showed students a spider video which tells about whether spiders are poisonous or not and some other spider information.

Lesson 2: I then taught them a spider song which I got from Deanna Jump’s spider resource here. I sang the spider body parts song to the tune of “Are You Sleeping” instead of to the tune of Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. I didn’t really use a lot of her content since I am not a classroom teacher, BUT what I did use I LOVED! During this lesson, I had students point to the spider body parts as if they were a spider. I also pulled a spider diagram from the internet to explain where the spider body parts were.

With our remainder of time, we went outside and the students became “spider hunters”. They were super excited about this. I gave each child one of those cheap plastic magnifying glasses from oriental trading for searching. Prior to searching for spiders, I give a talk about being very careful not to touch, pick up, or damage spiders. Kids will try to smoosh them sometimes if you don’t tell them this. Another important thing to tell students is that they are very big and if they want to see spiders, they need to be slow and quiet. Remind them that is someone 100 times their size was looking at them it would be scary and they would want to run, too.

Lesson 3: We built spiders similar to what Deanna Jump did, but I used black construction paper and modeled how to draw a large oval. Students cut out the black oval and I cut out black circle on the die cut at school. I also cut out strips of black for the legs. Students glued their parts together and labeled the parts with label parts I made. I made labels so that the young students didn’t have to spell the complicated body part words. Depending on the group this took up to two 30 minute slots. Here are some of our finished spiders. We decided not to do Google eyes for time’s sake.

The bows…I totally got from the Deanna Jump resource. In order to get a bow for your spider, you had to have your parts labeled correctly. Not everyone got a bow for their spider 🙂 and they definitely wanted one.

Lesson 4: I read Hey Little Ant which is a story giving students perspective about the size of an ant and of them. At the end of the book, it asks if the ant should be smooshed or stepped on. I used this as a writing prompt for children to write and draw what they would do except I ask them to think about what they would do to a spider. (I did have some children reporting someone smooshed a spider on our spider hunt :(. ) Time overdue for a lesson on empathy.

I hope you can take some of what I have done and use it in your own lessons :). Happy Teaching!

Wish I Had Known About the Brain!

A couple of years in a row now my partners at other schools have begun the year teaching about the brain and mindsets. I was like, “Yeah, that sounds great.” BUT, I had already planned something else in my mind. They shared their lessons with me and they all revolved around this book…Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by  Deak Ph.D., JoAnn and Sarah Ackerley.

Here is a brief sketch of what I did with my students in 1st and 2nd grades this year. These were three 30 minute enrichment lessons. Most of this I cannot take credit for since I didn’t write the lessons, but I adapted them for my own use.

Day 1: I read the first few pages of the book and we learned the parts of the brain here as we touched the parts of the brain on our heads, we talked about each part’s function. We did a coloring sheet in which students colored parts of the brain like are on this page of the book (sorry, but I am not at liberty to share the coloring page).

We also sang with this Story Bots You Tube song.


Day 2: We read the next few pages of the book and reviewed the parts of the brain. We acted out different scenarios which were pre-prepared (I didn’t come up with them on the spot in other words). Students had to guess which parts of the brain they thought were being used to perform the actions that the children were doing.

Day 3: We read the last few pages of the book, and made neurons with our arms, palms, and fingers. We talked about how electrical impulses travel down the neurons to tell the body what to do. Then I talked to students about how mistakes are the biggest teacher (reiterating what the book says). I brought up the idea of a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. I held a balloon and blew it up. I said this is like a growth mindset. I also held up a flat balloon and said this is a fixed mindset. Then I asked students what they could do to make it easier to blow up the balloon. I wanted them to tell me to stretch it (like their brain). From this point, I found a random fixed mindset/growth mindset poster on the internet and read it while holding the balloon. I had students check phrases they had said before on both the fixed and growth mindset side. This website has a good chart about characteristics of fixed and growth mindset patterns.

What I love when teaching about the brain and fixed/growth mindset is that in essence you are teaching children the power of choices to let their mind expand or stay stagnant. With my older students, I also discussed how when you let your mind go a certain direction over and over it makes a deeper pathway similar to when you walk on the grass a whole lot. I ask the students what helps the grass to stop being dead in the same spot. Students invariably are able to say that you stop walking on it and when the rain comes it grows back up. So it is with anyone’s brain. They stop thinking the worst and the grass grows back up. Their brain stops having that pathway.

I hope you get a chance to teach about the brain and mindsets in your classroom. You won’t regret it!

Wonderful Way to Start Your School Year!

I had seen this idea on another teacher’s wall at a different school many years ago. I thought I would look up the book and create the same thing, but we did this our own way! First, I read The Best Part of Me to the students. This book has lots of black and white pictures of students body parts with a writing piece done by each student about their body part.

Next, I had students brainstorm about their body parts. I had them list a body part they loved, one they found especially useful, and one they wanted to improve their confidence in. They had to write three details about each body part and then choose one to write about. The brainstorming took about one day.

Thirdly, I had the students begin working on the rough draft of their writing pieces. During the next couple of days and lessons, I read Owl Moon to give them the idea of using figurative language. I also read Ted Arnold’s book Parts to the students because it uses exaggeration and rhyme. For students who were wanting to write poetry, this gave them some ideas for their writing. I allowed students to choose whether to write in paragraph or poetry format.

We spent several days perfecting our rough drafts and turning them into final drafts. I had students use the iPads to take pictures of themselves or of one another’s body parts. Then they sent the pictures to my Google Drive and I was able to send them to the copier. We framed them nicely on construction paper. Parents and teachers oohed and aahed over the children’s work!

You can see some of our finished products below.

Another wonderful place to get lesson ideas for this book is on Scholastic here.

I hope you get to do this project sometime. I think you will be so pleased with the results!

How Do You Engage Everyone in a Lesson

  1. Allow children to use their imagination especially through role play.
  2. Add challenge.
  3. Add secrecy.
  4. Include some mysterious searching.

These are some things I did recently with my students at the end of the school year. I gave them some background on World War II, told them they were secret spies, and that their spy skills were going to save millions of lives.

I further explained about the enigma machine in which Nazis used to send secret messages which we call cryptograms or ciphers. This set the stage for them to stay actively engaged enough to finish a cryptogram. Even students who normally struggle to figure out normal assignments had a renewed interest in solving a puzzle! For the second lesson, the solving of their second puzzle led them to find a location for their next clue. I have never had a more engaged group of students!

Even the teachers of these classrooms I taught were engaged with figuring out the cryptogram. I included the school secretary as one of the clue givers, and students enjoyed leaving the classroom for a moment to find the next clue. When proud students returned from the secretary with their “Secret Agent” badge, this encouraged others to keep working to figure out the puzzle.

These lessons were some of the highlights of my year, and I hope you enjoy them, too. Here is a link to this critical thinking resource on TPT.

Fun Hands-On Geometry Lesson for Kinder and First

At this time of year attention spans are short so it is always good to bring in a fun hands on activity. Why not use shapes to make new figures? I used this for an enrichment unit to see which of my students could demonstrate different perspectives in an enrichment class, but you could easily use it to meet these common core standards for kinder and first graders.

Kinder: CC KB6: Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes.

1st: CC standard 1GA2: Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, … to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.1

This will take a little preparation because you will need four right triangles cut out of card stock. Each triangle needs to be of a different color. I used the Ellison die cutter at school and cut out squares. Then with a sharp pair of scissors, I cut down the middle of the square to make 2 triangles. Of course remind students to take care of the triangles so you can use them over and over. I chose not to laminate because I felt the plastic edges would probably make the shapes not fit together very well.

Next, you pose several different figures for the students to make. Students have to use all four triangles for each figure.

  1. build a square.
  2. build a triangle.
  3. build a rectangle.
  4. build mountains.
  5. build a diamond (really just the same as a square but turned differently. See if your students know to do this.
  6. build a house
  7. build a pinwheel (if you attempt this one be prepared to show students a picture of a pinwheel. This one proved to be most difficult for students because even after they had built it, they had the triangles turned the wrong direction and thought they were correct.)

Solutions are below.

I had my students sit on a circle around the carpet and build their figures. Some of them looked at others work to help them. If you really want to know who knows what, then this configuration wouldn’t work well, but at times, I think it was helpful for students to see their peers work. I liked sitting in a circle around the carpet because I wanted to see the students closely during this time.

Alternately, you could tell the students to build as many different figures as possible with four right triangles and record them as they find each solution. This could be done on a separate day. Heres a link that shows the ways and other activities to do with right triangles.

The four triangles

What Do You Do in Your Math Intervention Group?

So, I have a math intervention group.  I have done intervention lots of ways…and the thing is, there are always core things that kids struggle with.  Those things without a double are always addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts.  Next, they struggle with the standard regrouping algorithm.  And, why do they struggle? BECAUSE, of course, no one sits with them at home to help them learn these things if the concepts don’t sink in during school time.

Enter me.  I have been working with some students the past few weeks on subtraction regrouping…with success!  Here is what I have done, and what I have discovered.  First of all, several of the intervention students were able to regroup UNTIL they had to regroup across zeros.  They weren’t sure what to do when they had to borrow two places over.  How did I figure this out you ask?  Well, with my group of four students, I gave them a worksheet. (gasp!  a worksheet??!!) Yes, I gave them a worksheet and had them work a few and checked to see which ones they were getting correct and which ones they were missing.  I would have them work one problem and hand me the sheet to check.  This way they were getting immediate feedback.  During this time, I realized that they weren’t getting the answers right unless they borrowed across zeros or had to borrow two places over.  I used and am so thankful for Super Teacher Worksheets subtraction worksheet generator!  This conveniently allowed me to print a new worksheet (complete with answer key) when I felt they needed practice.


Now when I realized they needed help with regrouping across zeros, I realized there was a regrouping misunderstanding.  So, I used the Singapore math number discs method to show them what was happening when they were regrouping.  After showing them and having them do one with me, the next day they performed a lot better on their subtraction regrouping problems.  I have a SMART board lesson and worksheets if you would like some for students to practice with.  The grid is already made for the students…these however do not have seven digits like the worksheet above.

A few other things I did to help the students think about the regrouping process were.

  1.  Say this little rhyme…”More on the floor, go next door, and get 10 more”.  This way they would always know they were bringing ten over…not 9, not 8.
  2. Sometimes when students want to skip over a place value column, I would describe it as driving in traffic.  Your car doesn’t just fly over the other column, it has to change lanes one at a time…it can’t be a helicopter.
  3. Another idea I mention is place value columns in relation to the drawers in a cash register.  If you cash in your $100 bill for others, you trade it in for 10 $10, then you trade in the $10 for 10 $1 bills.

Try these things and soon you will be on your way to having expert subtraction regroupers!




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