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I get the cutest handwriting fonts at Fonts for Peas! kevinandamanda.com/fonts
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Use Snow to Your Advantage: Snow Day Learning!

There’s no day like a snow day…in the South that is! We have had a great time for about a week and a half with a large amount of snow where I live, yet we were teaching virtually. I knew this was a losing battle. I mean if I was a child, I definitely wouldn’t be doing schoolwork when record snowfall is happening outside. I gave the kids these options, and do you know what?! I actually had some children participate!!

Here is what I assigned them:

Snow Experiments and Creativity

Do this OR pick two of the following:

Build a snow creation that no one else will think of (especially not a snowman or woman). Add extra details to make it more interesting. Give it an interesting name.   You must use at least 2 snow tools to build your sculpture.  I showed them 2 snow sculpture videos in which they used tools.

What tools did you use? 

How did you use the tools? What did you build? Send me a picture. 

1.Measure the snow in it’s deepest part with a ruler. Use inches. Where did you measure it? How deep was it?

2.  Put a some snow in a jar or measuring cup. Mark a line to show how deep it was in the jar. Bring it inside and let it melt. Mark the new line. How did it change? Why do you think this happened?

3. Throw some crackers or breadcrumbs outside. Watch the birds. Feed them. How are they eating since the snow is so deep? What kind of birds do you see? What do you notice?

5. Do you have a thermometer? Take the temperature from your hands outside. Now put on mittens. Put the thermometer inside the mittens.  How did the mittens affect the temperature of your hands?

6. Get some containers with a small spout like water bottles and fill them with very cold water. Add food coloring. Make a beautiful picture in the snow by pouring your colored water out on the snow. Send me a picture.

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The actual results of my activitiesI had some students measure the snow in a jar and melt the snow in the microwave. Over a zoom we figured out the fractional amount of water that was created after the snow had melted. We discovered that one-fourth of the water remained from the melted snow.

I had students who took their technology device outside to build their snow sculpture so that the other kids could be involved in what they were doing. The sculpture changed several times as it didn’t work out like the child had planned. I also had one child build a snow fort as she turned a tunnel into a structure where her father buried her.

Another student excitedly exclaimed that he had a book about birds for the bird watching activity! (I reminded children they could go inside to do this one and get warm if they got cold in the snow.) This same child seemed to delight in waking his mother up from a nap to ask for food coloring of which they had none.

Lastly, I had a measurement competition going in which children found the depth of snow at their house. Now, I couldn’t tell you if they were being honest, but at least they were pulling out a ruler and thinking about measurement.

I hope you get a chance to experience some of these activities with your students virtually, too!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Two Fun Valentine’s Day Activities

I always love doing this in February with my students. Students measure their kiss.

And, what Valentine Party is complete without Valentine Bingo? This is always a great time filler to any class party! Play with candy conversation hearts or red hots for extra fun! Snag this one at Superteacherworksheets.com

Passion Projects Part 2

As my students floundered to decide on a topic, I revisited the website I mentioned in then previous post–keepemthinking.com. I went back to use the book she suggested Junkyard Wonders. Whether this helped students pick a “passion” or not doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the book had a very powerful message about pursuing what matters to you and how it can pave the way for a successful future. I had planned to show it over two class periods because it is a long story, but the students really wanted to hear the second part, so I acquiesced.

The students made the connection from the book to the project without me saying much except for “why do you think I showed you this?” I used her idea for a project proposal. Finally the project started to take shape. Those students who wouldn’t commit to a topic before were now committing. The fact that I make them have everything laid out, that they have to create a “burning question”, and that we both sign off on it leads to their committal. Then when they think about changing ideas, they aren’t allowed to because we signed and committed.

I love the Wonderopolis website she suggests, too! What a wealth of curiosities to help students settle on a question. Make sure you check out this website!

I am sure that the author of this blog has a quality passion project unit. I probably would have bought it if I hadn’t already bought two other people’s resources. What I did like about the other resources, however, is that they had plenty of space for brainstorming. I also like that they had a place for students to check in with one another. Instead of all my students checking in with me, they are telling each other the progress they made. No one wants to tell someone else they accomplished nothing so this becomes affective. I love it!

Passion Projects

A couple of teacher friends of mine had talked about Passion Projects and I was intrigued. Does it not sound SO great to allow students to study their own passions and turn it into some type of presentation? I started where one of my friends said to start. That was on Teachers Pay Teachers. I stopped there and bought a couple of units. Feeling armed, I made a packet out of the two products I bought. It was a nice start, but I soon discovered I hadn’t given enough background information for a successful start. I had students who didn’t know what “passion” they wanted to pursue. I had other students who wanted to study sports or video games. At the time I asked them to let me think about it and that they better have a great way to learn something from these. A while later I went ahead and told them that sports and video games were off limits.

Then one of these teacher friends told me about this website and things started to take a turn for the better! Check out this post on using passion projects in elementary school at Keepemthinking.com. I really love the books this blogger suggests you start with– especially Junkyard Wonders. My students had such a great response to this book! I will update you in a several weeks to let you know how their projects are going.

Giveaway Time! $100 TPT Giveaway

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Happy New Year!

Thank you to Littlenerdyteachers.com and P4 Kids Trioriginals for the beautiful clipart.

Quick and Easy Christmas Lesson!

Like any good teacher, I got some ideas from multiple places to adapt and make a quick and easy Christmas lesson. I used a worksheet from superteacherworksheets.com that had students brainstorm different ideas about Christmas. Superteacherworksheets.com is totally worth their subscription–such a great value! I didn’t use this sheet in its entirety, but I did use the brainstorm different Christmas movies list. Students enjoyed the opportunity to interact in our “much virtual” world. I had students brainstorm at least 15 different Christmas movies that weren’t sequels (like Part 1, Part 2 etc.) Then I also had students think of the characters in each of the movies. Students’ job was to think of the most creative characters in their list. This required them to think and to have constructive conversation–WIN WIN! Next I had them list their eight most creative characters from the Christmas movie list. Thanks to Ian Byrd over at byrdseed.com for his idea to create tournaments. (The byrdseed.tv subscription is totally worth it, too.)

Then students make a tournament like you would make for sports teams with their eight creative characters until they have a winner. Ian has a printable tournament page which is great for many ideas. (I do believe it is only available if you have the subscription, however.) With my students Kevin McCallister from Home Alone won two of the tournaments for most creative character from a Christmas movie. He is definitely one I had in mind!

Next time you get ready to teach a Christmas lesson, I hope this gives you a quick and easy lesson idea.

Merry Christmas!

So Fun Thanksgiving Lesson!

This is probably one of the best lessons I have ever done for Thanksgiving, and it worked so well for including virtual students! I changed the idea a bit from Ian Byrd of birdseed.com where he talks about switching poems around from one holiday to another. Instead of doing this, I decided to have students switch around a Christmas carol to a Thanksgiving carol.

First I asked students to think of a carol for Thanksgiving. Of course I knew they wouldn’t be able to think of one because as far as I know, there are none. I let the students think it was their idea to make Thanksgiving carols. Then I gave students about five well known carols to choose from. I told them to consider syllables and rhyming words. Then I told them to change the words to a Thanksgiving song. I got some really great songs. My favorite part was having them preform their songs on Zoom. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” became “Robert the Blue Beaked Turkey” and I heard “five roast beefs” sung where “five gold rings” would have otherwise been proudly belted out. Then I uploaded the recordings to Class Dojo. I received great comments from parents and teachers!

I hope this gives you a way to add fun and creativity to your next Thanksgiving season!

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