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Teaching Students the True Meaning of the Holidays

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 09, 2019
Teaching Students the True Meaning of the Holidays

The holiday season is a time filled with happiness and cheer for most of us, but we often don’t realize that everyone out there isn’t always fortunate enough to be shopping for gifts. The world is a very hectic place, and we are all so busy with work and family life that we don’t always take the time to notice that the world is also a place where many people are suffering from illness, loneliness, poverty, or other circumstances. Take the time this holiday season to help students see what they can do to make a difference for those who may not feel so cheerful.

The holiday season has become so commercialized that buying presents is the central theme that we focus on rather than the celebration itself. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to purchase gifts for our children and loved ones but we sometimes get lost in the commercialization to the point where we even go into debt during the holidays. It is important to remember the true meaning of the holiday spirit and to carry that spirit with us all year long. Although you can’t change the world overnight, nor can you help everyone, there are ways that you and your class can spread holiday cheer to those less fortunate.

Give to those who are in need. If you don’t have much cash to spend but still want to help out, contribute to organizations that collect food, clothing or toys during the holiday season. Your school or class can also start a food, clothing or toy drive. If you know someone in your class or school that has lost a family member or a home due to fire, get the administration, other teachers, and your class together and plan a way to help the family out. You can donate cash, food, household goods and more. The sky is the limit.

Donating your time can be just as important as donating your money. Your class can donate time by helping dish out meals at a local soup kitchen. Your class could make festive cards and send them to other children in local hospitals that can use some cheering up this holiday. You can also contact nursing homes and see how your class can spread some holiday cheer.

Students can raise money through fundraising or donations to help others around the world. Some unique projects and organizations that children will enjoy helping out with fundraising efforts include:

  1. DonorsChoose.org is a site where teachers all over the U.S. need your help to bring their classroom dreams to life. For as little as $1 it’s easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you. You can find a class in your same area or one on the other side of the nation that needs help. Maybe you’ll even connect with them through letters or Skype.
  2. Heifer.org is an organization where donations go toward buying an animal such as a cow, goat, rabbits, geese, or alpaca for less fortunate people in other countries. Giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood. For as little as $10, children can learn about how their donations will help these families. What a fantastic learning opportunity for students!

There are many ways to help others during the holiday season, so be creative and most of all, get your class involved. You can touch the hearts of those less fortunate by extending a helping hand. Helping others will teach students about having empathy and compassion for others. We can make the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time.

6 Fascinating People to Learn About for Black History Month

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 03, 2019
6 Fascinating People to Learn About for Black History Month

Black History Month is a time to celebrate the amazing achievements of Black Americans. It's also a time to teach our students about the important roles African-Americans have played in the history of this great nation. By taking a closer look at the character traits of these influential leaders, we hope to inspire our students to be the best they can be. Let's take a look at some fun and meaningful ways to celebrate Black History Month.

Black History Month Activity Bundle for Kids

"Brave Bessie"

Bessie dreamed of one day becoming a pilot, but she couldn't find anyone that would teach a black woman to fly. This was not allowed at that time in the United States, but Bessie didn’t give up!  Instead, she worked hard, saved money, and taught herself how to speak French. In 1920,  she moved to France in hopes of learning how to fly.  In 1921, Bessie made history! Bessie Coleman became the first African-American female pilot. People would come from all over the nation to watch the airplanes do special tricks. In 1922, Bessie became the star of the show. It was the first air show ever to be performed by a black woman pilot. Bessie encouraged other African-Americans to pursue their dreams of becoming a pilot. Her goal was to one day set up a flight school for other African-Americans to learn how to fly. A few years later, the first African-American flight school called The Bessie Coleman Aero Club opened in Chicago in honor of her. Today, Bessie Coleman is remembered as one of the most inspirational African-Americans of all time. Bessie was one of the bravest and most beloved pilots in our nation's history.

Character Traits: Courageous, Ambitious, Determined

"Curious Benjamin"

Benjamin was curious and became fascinated about how things worked. He even built his own clock, from wood. It took him two years to build it. Amazingly, that clock kept the correct time for more than forty years. On April 14, 1789, he made history! He predicted the exact date that an eclipse was going to occur. Several white scientists disagreed with him, but Benjamin’s prediction was correct making him famous!

In 1791, President George Washington hired Benjamin to design our nation’s capitol. It was an incredible opportunity. Benjamin used his skills as a surveyor and began laying out the design of Washington D. C. He was the first Black American to receive a presidential appointment. But that was not all. In 1792, Benjamin used his talent as a writer to publish an almanac. An almanac is a book loaded with all sorts of information including predictions about the weather, dates for important events, and information about the community. Today, Benjamin Banneker is remembered as one of the most important African-Americans in this country. He is admired for his talents and successes in writing, science, and architecture. One of his lasting contributions is the design of our nation’s capitol.

Character Traits: Creative, Curious, Resourceful

"The Little Giant"

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in February 1818. At the age of 7, he was sent away to a nearby plantation to work for a new master. Frederick wanted to go to school to learn how to read and write, but as a slave that was not allowed. With the help of his master’s wife, he learned how to read in secret. In turn, he taught other slaves how to read. Over the next several years he tried to escape from slavery twice before he finally succeeded.  After that, he was determined to put an end to slavery! Frederick was an excellent public speaker, and put his talents to good use by giving many speeches against slavery. He told his life story and what life was like as a slave. Sometimes the crowds were cruel and chased him off the stage.

During the Civil War, Frederick Douglass worked closely with President Abraham Lincoln. Douglass encouraged Lincoln that it was right to free the slaves. All of his hard work paid off. In 1863, President Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves.

Character Traits: Committed, Confident, Diligent 

"The First Lady of Struggle"

Mary also went with her mother each day to deliver white people’s laundry. One day while Mary and her mother were dropping off laundry to a white family, Mary picked up one of the school books she found there. The white girls who lived there grabbed the book away from her. Then they teased Mary because she couldn't read. This event terribly upset Mary and inspired her to learn all she could. As soon as she was old enough, Mary started going to school. This meant a four-mile walk to school each day. Mary loved learning so much that each evening she taught the rest of her family what she had learned that day. It came as no surprise that Mary dreamed of becoming a teacher. Mary realized at a young age that the only difference between her and white people was education.

She rented an old house in Daytona Beach, Florida for $11 a month. She turned this run-down building into a school by building benches and desks out of old crates. Her first class was made up of her son, Arthur, and five girls. She taught her students reading, writing, mathematics, and home economics. News about this great school spread fast, and within two years she had more 200 students. Mary served as president of the school for ten years. She saw firsthand how education a could improve the lives of African Americans. Mary became a trusted friend and adviser to President Roosevelt. Mary McLeod Bethune was the first African-American woman to work with any president in the White House.

Character Traits: Dedicated, Compassionate, Helpful

"The Plant Doctor"

George Washington Carver was born in 1864 on a farm in Missouri. Plantation owners, Moses and Sue Carver, took George in and treated him as one of their children. George did many experiments with plants and soil. His family called him the “plant doctor” because he could grow anything. Carver went to college to study agriculture. Professor Carver had his class do some science experiments where they planted sweet potatoes instead of cotton. George believed that the land needed to rest, and he was right. George taught farmers that planting peanuts and then sweet potatoes would improve the earth and keep it from wearing out. His crop rotation methods proved to be incredibly valuable. So many farmers followed his advice that the market became flooded with peanuts. Carver set to work and invented more than 300 new peanut products. His nutty inventions included shampoo, gasoline, ice cream, and coffee all made from peanuts. It wasn’t long before he had created more than 160 new products made from sweet potatoes including flour, ink, and glue.

He gave inspirational speeches to African-American students encouraging them to follow their dreams. Even though George became wealthy and famous, he didn’t own much. In fact, he believed it was wrong to make money from his inventions. Instead, he freely gave them away so everyone could benefit from his work. George Washington Carver is considered one of the greatest scientists of all time!

Character Traits: Creative, Generous, Resourceful

"Mr. Civil Rights"

While growing up, Thurgood Marshall would go with his dad to court and listen to law cases. Watching these trials captured his attention, and soon enough he dreamed of becoming a lawyer. First, he attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Then he applied to the University of Maryland for law school. Sadly, the university rejected his application because of the color of his skin. Marshall didn’t let that stop him! Marshall's first big case was against the University of Maryland. Marshall had heard of another student who had been turned away because of his race, just like Marshall was. The case went to court, and Marshall won. Now they would have to let African-Americans attend the school.

Marshall quickly became well known for his skills as a lawyer and his dedication to civil rights. In 1954, he worked on a case which made him famous! In the Brown vs. Board of Education case, Marshall fought to end segregated schools. Segregation means to separate one thing and place apart from others. During that time there were separate schools for black children and white children. He argued that schools should not be segregated. He believed that all children regardless of race and skin color should go to the same schools. Marshall proved in court that segregation in the schools was “unconstitutional” meaning that it went against the U.S. Constitution. In 1967, Marshall became the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. He served for 24 years.

Character Traits: Honest, Dedicated, Confident

**Depending on the time allotted for this unit you could focus on a new person each week for 6 weeks or let the students choose which 3 or 4 influential Black Americans to learn about. Giving students a choice creates an enthusiasm for learning!**

Setting up Your Black History Learning Stations:

Station #1: Read All About It!

 Have students read the passages where they will meet each influential Black American and learn about his/her life story. The reading passages are written in 2 different formats depending on your level of your students and time you have allotted for this unit. *For younger students have them read the passages with the questions and scenes to color and connect to the information. Then have students answer the questions on the biography organizers to check for understanding and evaluate their reading.

Station #2: Create a Biography Mini-Booklet

Biography Mini-booklets are a fun activity where students write 3 facts, cut and sort important dates, color, and glue to assemble these booklets. After reading about these famous African-Americans, students write three facts about him or her on the inside of the booklet. Cut out the booklet. Next, cut and sort the 5 important dates and glue them in the correct order on the inside flap of the booklet. Color the front cover. Last, fold in half to create a mini-booklet. Mini-booklets fit perfectly inside student notebooks, too!

Station #3: Take a Closer Look at Character Traits

Studying character traits in others teaches students the values of caring about other people, honesty, responsibility, and other important traits that make for an upstanding citizen. Have students read the famous quote and determine its meaning. Using the articles and character traits vocabulary photo posters have the students write the definition and give an example of how that person was "dedicated, honest, curious, etc."

Station #4: Make a Black History Month Scrapbook

Have students put together a Black History Month Scrapbook with short passages and fill in the blanks. This is a great way to review the important facts about each person. The last page is the “Who Am I?” activity page so that it is 8 pages in all!

Keep it Short Please!

If you have limited time to spend on this unit, then I recommend reading the passages and then completing the Black History Scrapbook activity. This will introduce the 6 famous Black Americans and create a fun scrapbook in a short amount of time.

Learning about influential and inspirational Black Americans has never been more fun! This BUNDLE has a variety of activities to celebrate and learn about six influential African-Americans: Bessie Coleman, Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Thurgood Marshall.

 Black History Month Activities Bundle

6 Famous Women in History to Celebrate This Year

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 03, 2019
6 Famous Women in History to Celebrate This Year

Women's History Month is a time to learn and celebrate the contributions of women to events in history. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. In the United States, Women's History Month first started in 1911 as International Women's Day and was extended as a month-long annual celebration.

President Jimmy Carter said it best, "From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung, and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well. I urge libraries, schools, and community organizations to focus their observances on the leaders who struggled for equality: Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul. Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people."

In honor of all women around the world, our Women's History Bundle is a perfect classroom companion. Here are the women of character, courage, and commitment that it celebrates:

  • Harriet Tubman
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Malala Yousafzai
  • Clara Barton
  • Helen Keller
  • Sojourner Truth

Activities to Celebrate Women's History Month

1. Read the Passages & Complete the Organizers

Have students read the passages where they will meet six women of courage, character, and commitment and learn about her life story. The reading passages are written in two different formats depending on your level of your students and time you have allotted for this unit. For example, younger students would enjoy reading the passages with the questions and scenes to color. After reading about her, have students answer the questions on the 2-page biography organizers to check for understanding and evaluate their reading.

Celebrate Women's History Month Activities for Kids

Celebrate Women's History Month Activities for Kids

2. Build a Character Mini-booklet

Biography Mini-booklets are a fun activity where students write three facts, cut, color, and glue to assemble these booklets. After reading about these famous women in history, students write three facts about him or her on the inside of the booklet. Next, cut and sort the five important life events and glue them in the correct order on the inside flap of the booklet. Color the character on the front cover. Last, fold in half to create a mini-booklet. Mini-booklets fit neatly inside notebooks, too!

Make a Character Mini booklet to Celebrate Women's History Month Activities for Kids

3. Dig Deeper into Character Traits

One of the most important traits that all these women have in common is their strength of character. It was this inner strength that led each of them to accomplish impossible goals. For example, Harriet Tubman was incredibly brave when she risked her life time and time again to rescue more and more slaves and lead them to freedom. When Malala Yousafzai didn't give up on the right for all girls to receive an education despite almost dying, she showed great determination. Have students give examples from the readings to prove their character traits. Then have them take it a step further to compare those traits to themselves or someone they know well.

Celebrate Women's History Month Activities for Kids

4. Create a Women of Character Scrapbook

What better way to honor these incredible women than with a Women of Character Scrapbook? Use the reading passages to complete the fill-in the blanks, and Who Am I? and then color the cover. Students can build it page by page to put together their Women of Character Scrapbook.

Celebrate Women's History Month Make a Scrapbook Activity for Kids

5. Quiz & Short Response Questions

Each unit in the bundle includes a short quiz and short response questions to evaluate learning. The short response questions can be used as a writing exercise or an end of the unit review.

Famous Women in History Trading Cards

Make Trading Cards for Women's History Month

6. Now Updated with One of a Kind Trading Cards

This FUN activity that is sure to captivate your students. Students will read all about these famous women and answer the comprehension questions on the organizer. As a final project, they will create a trading card for each of them. 

Famous Women Trading Card Activity

I recommend buying LIBRARY CARD POCKETS if you plan to have students collect them or keep them for other units. For best results, print the cards on cardstock or premium brochure and flyer paper from Office Depot. The cards will last longer and be more sturdy. Remember to set the printer on the best quality setting. There are labels in this pack to glue on the front of the pockets or you can write the names using a sharpie, if desired. I hope your students love this project as much as mine do!

Suggestions for Using Trading Cards:

  • Make them at stations to introduce these influential people
  • Use this at the end of the unit as a review activity

Students will love creating and collecting trading cards for all my social studies units.

Keep it Short Please: 

If you have limited time to spend on this unit, then I recommend reading the passages and then completing the Women of Character Scrapbook Pages. This will introduce the six famous women and create a fun scrapbook in a quick period. Learning about influential and inspirational women of courage has never been more fun! This WOMEN'S HISTORY BUNDLE has a variety of activities to celebrate and learn about six women of courage, character, and commitment: Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Malala Yousafzai, Clara Barton, and Susan B. Anthony. This BUNDLE celebrates famous women in history and it the perfect companion for Women's History Month!

Women's History Month Activities bundle

5 Tips for Surviving the End of the School Year

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 03, 2019
5 Tips for Surviving the End of the School Year

The end of the year is almost here! As the end of the school year gets closer, to-do lists seem to get longer and longer with all the things we need to do. Over the years, I have discovered and learned—many the hard way---how to make the end of the year easier and less stressful. Below are 5 tips for surviving the end of the school year with ease.

Tip #1: Create a "Summer School Kit" with leftover copies and extra activity pages.

You probably have stacks of extra copies, unused worksheets, or remaining quizzes for a variety of subjects from throughout the year. Maybe they are scattered across the classroom in folders, bins, and crates. One way to recycle all the extra unused papers plus generate practice sheets for summer vacation is to create a “Summer School Kit” for each student.

During the last week of school have students bring in a large mailing envelope or small flat box and leave it on their desks at the end of the day. Pass out the extra copies, unused worksheets, activity pages, quizzes, and writing prompts to each desk. This is an excellent way to differentiate by adding specific skill sheets to meet the needs of each student in their summer school kits.

Inside their summer school kit include a few bonus surprises:

On the outside of the envelope or box place a summer-themed picture with a note that states, “Do not open until summer!” and tie with a big ribbon. Hand out to students on the last day of school. Students will love opening their Summer School Kits after they get home to see what’s inside of them.

Tip #2: Reflect on your current organization system and re-organize with next year in mind.

Now, is the time to think about your current method of organizing all your supplies, books, files, student records, and curriculum. Reflecting now while it’s all fresh in your mind will help you relax more over summer and put a plan in place for next year.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Did the current systems of organizing your classroom work well this year?
  • What didn’t work so well?
  • What’s one thing I can change to make my life easier for next school year?
  • What’s one thing that I need to change to keep me better organized?
  • Look around the classroom is there any furniture or equipment that would work better in a different spot? Or is hard to get to?
  • Could you paint the side of your desk or file cabinet with chalkboard paint to use it more effectively in the future?
  • Are there any labels, schedule cards, bins, posters, or books that need repairing or replacing?
  • Do you like the way your classroom is set up?
  • Name one area of the classroom that needs to be improved to work better for your needs?
  • How can you cut down time spent on designing bulletin boards?
  • Is there anything that could be organized differently (colored-coded, numbered, or with visuals) to make it easier for students to put things back in their correct spots?
  • What can I change so that students can help keep the classroom better organized?

By answering these questions, you can create a wish list to implement over the next few months before school starts back. Ask other teachers how they organize their classroom to get new ideas. Remember to start with small changes and be yourself, what works for one teacher might not work well for you.

Tip #3: Throw a Classroom Clean-Up Party during the last few days of school.

Have students help you “summer clean” the classroom. This is a great classroom community activity for students, and it helps out you too. Be sure to give students small tasks with specific directions, so their efforts are beneficial. Another option would be to ask for parent helpers or high school helpers to volunteer for an hour or two.

Even young students can do simple cleaning tasks including:

  • Dusting—inside cupboards, shelves,
  • Sorting of classroom supplies like pencils, paperclips, markers, etc.
  • Clean out cupboards, drawers, desks, and bookshelves
  • Organize books, bins, centers, and other supplies
  • Have students test markers, sharpies, glue, and toss the ones that have dried out
  • Clean erasers, dry erase boards, sink, countertops
  • Wipe down whiteboards, shelves, toys, and other small items
  • Pack up boxes (non-breakables)

Tip #4: Have students complete an End of the Year Reflection as a closure activity on the last day of school.

Students will love this fun way to reflect on this past year. Reflection questions help students wrap up the year in a positive way! There are two pages to copy back to back--perfect for morning work or centers during those last days of school! Best of all, you can download the

Best of all, you can download the End of Year Reflection FREEBIE Here!

Some of the questions included on the reflection are:

  • One thing I learned about myself this year is
  • One piece of advice I'd give to next year's students is
  • One accomplishment that I'm proud of is
  • One thing I'm looking forward to next year is
  • Draw a picture that shows your favorite Science and SS unit this year
  • One dream I have for the future is
  • One thing I'll never forget about this year is
  • When I grow up I want to be
  • Three words to describe me
  • My Favorite Subject, special, sport, game, and food

Tip #5: Keep the last few weeks simple with FUN activities that review important skills.

One way to make it easier during this time of year is to take advantage of the many creative hands-on activities available during those last weeks of school. If you search for "end of the year activities" on TeachersPayTeachers, you will find some great units and ideas. There are review games, art projects, lapbooks, and writing activities galore for you to choose from. One of my all time favorites is to have students create their own country. What a creative way to review geography and map skills! Students love creating their own country with this hands-on activity. Our unit has been newly updated with informational articles, vocabulary posters, and engaging student activities related to many of the themes of geography such as culture, flag facts, climates, housing, natural resources, agriculture, transportation, and more.


Another option is to have your students create an end of the year class memory book! Sure to be a special keepsake for years to come! This is a creative and fun end of the year project for students to work on during those last days of the school year. In our Best Year Ever Memory Book resource, students complete, color, and decorate 19 reflection pages about the best school year ever! It's perfect to use with multiple grade levels because there are cover pages for 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and even includes a star student cover! All pages are in black and white for students to complete, color, and make their own end of the year memory book! Before binding the book, add in some writing projects and a favorite class photography to give that extra special touch!


No doubt your students will enjoy these fun activities, projects, and super cleaning the classroom during the last weeks of school. And you will feel less stressed by putting a plan in place for next year as this year draws to a close.

5 Ways to Make Mother's Day Special

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 03, 2019
5 Ways to Make Mother's Day Special

Time to gather up the kids and make a special gift just for Mother’s Day! What mother wouldn’t appreciate a homemade gift from her child? The projects highlighted in this article are fun, creative, and don’t cost much. Besides, the best gifts for Mom are free!

A Little History

Mother’s Day dates back to ancient Greece when the people paid tribute to Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. Later in history, England paid tribute to mothers on “Mothering Sunday” or the fourth Sunday after Lent. There were several women who suggested the idea of Mother’s Day, but it wasn’t until Miss Anna M. Jarvis from Philadelphia campaigned to make Mother’s Day a national holiday that it came to be. In 1910, the first Mother’s Day was proclaimed and was celebrated by West Virginia and Oklahoma. By 1911 every state observed Mother’s Day. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued the proclamation making Mother’s Day an official national holiday. Miss Anna Jarvis’s mother’s favorite flower was the white carnation, so it was chosen to represent the sweetness, purity, and endurance of a mother’s love.

Some Ideas for Making Mom’s Day Special

Have student conduct an interview with their mom. The act of conversation is a wonderful gift. This is a great activity for students to do with their mothers or grandmothers to learn more about their past. Using the questions below, students interview their mother or grandmother and write down their responses or video record them using an I-pad or cell phone.

  • Ask questions about her childhood and her favorite memories as a young girl.
  • What were her favorite subjects in school?
  • What is her favorite color, number, and holiday?
  • What is her favorite movie, candy, and ice cream flavor?
  • Who was her best friend when she was growing up?
  • What is her favorite hobby?
  • What is her most embarrassing moment?
  • How did she meet your father/grandfather?
  • Ask her about the day you were born.
  • What is her favorite memorable moment with you?

Click HERE for our FREE Mother's Day Pack

Here are other ideas to give mom some special attention:

  • Make your mom breakfast in bed.
  • Do your chores without being asked.
  • Get along with your brothers and sisters—no fighting. Keep today a quiet and peaceful day.
  • Give mom the gift of time. Let her take a long, luxurious bubble bath.
  • Leave a love letter or card for mom under her pillow.
  • Make mom a gift from the heart using one of the ideas below.

Little Hands Make Fond Memories

It may sound a little cliché, but if you and your child put time and thought into making this thoughtful card, it will become a treasure. Use this idea for this year, but also consider starting a tradition. Make one every year as Mom will enjoy seeing her child’s growth and will cherish these cards forever.


  1. Take a sheet of construction paper and fold it in half.
  2. For the front handprint, brush poster paint on the underside of each student’s hand.
  3. Press the hand (with fingers spread apart) onto the paper.
  4. Let it dry.
  5. Decorate the inside of the card with hand-drawn pictures or the poem below.
  6. Write or type a poem like the one below and glue it inside.
  7. Have each student write his/her name and the date.

This is to remind you

When I have grown so tall,

That once I was quite little

And my hands were very small!

Author Unknown

A Gift of Chores

What mother could resist a little help around the house from their child? This is a gift that keeps on giving—Mom can redeem her chore coupons or flowers whenever she needs a helping hand. We've added 18 coupons in the Mother's Day Pack.

To personalize have students make chore flowers:

  1. Have students cut out the flowers from different colored construction paper.
  2. Take a craft (Popsicle) stick and help the child write a chore on the stick with a fine-tip marker—you will need 5-6 sticks.
  3. Glue the paper flower to the top of each craft stick.
  4. To make the flower pot, just grab a paper cup and place a wad of clay at the bottom.
  5. Place the stick flowers inside and insert them into the clay, so they stand upright.
  6. Write the little poem on a piece of paper and attach it to the cup with a ribbon.
  7. The best way is to punch a hole into the paper and a hole into the cup—thread the ribbon and tie a bow.

Examples of Chores:

  • I will put away all my toys
  • I will help you empty the trash
  • I will sing you a song
  • I will help clean the dishes
  • I will help make dinner

Dear Mom,

I’d like to show you in my own way,

How much I love you each and every day!

May kisses and smiles come your way,

With lots of love on Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day

A Hanging Flower Printable for Mom

What better way to celebrate MOM than with a free printable DIY of a few of our favorite flowers? This printable was created with elementary students in mind because it’s easy-breezy to create this work of art in no time.

Here’s what you’ll need for each student:

  • Colored pencils
  • Cardstock or a light-shaded paper
  • A paint brush
  • White paint or clear coat
  • Twine, ribbon, or yarn
  • Flower printable
  • Scissors
  • Glue or invisible tape
  • Two wooden dowels, rods, small sticks, or other items to frame the edges of the print

Just follow the steps below to create a Mother’s Day work of art:
Step 1: Download the flower printable HERE. Print it on thick paper.
Step 2: Have students color the print using colored pencils.
Step 3: Paint the dowel rods and set them aside to dry for 15 minutes.
Step 4: Next, place the dowel rods, sticks, or other rulers on the top and bottom edges of the print. Carefully turn over the print and tape or glue to secure the backside of the print to the rods.
Step 5: Repeat along the bottom edge of your print.
Step 6: Next, cut about 10-12 inches of twine, ribbon, or yarn and tape to the backside of the canvas.
Step 7: Presto! Have students sign their names on the back of print or create a special card to go along with the gift. Now for the fun part…students get to help pick out a place where display this pretty print.

Click HERE for our FREE Mother's Day Pack

No matter how kids honor their mothers, it’s sure to be appreciated for years to come! There is nothing more special than a gift made by a child – it’s priceless!

Happy Mothers Day

Weathering the Weather with These 6 Fun Learning Activities

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 03, 2019
Weathering the Weather with These 6 Fun Learning Activities

When it's yucky outside and the kids get grumpy because it means indoor recess for yet another day, it's a signal that now is the perfect time to set up our rain gauges as part of our fun weather unit. Weather is an important part of our everyday lives. Knowing what the weather is going to be like helps us decide whether to wear shorts, carry an umbrella, or wear a warm coat and mittens each day. But it also helps farmers know when it's best to plant their crops. Pilots and air traffic controllers use the forecast to predict if it's safe to fly today. When people plan a vacation, they probably look at the forecast to plan their trip.

Weather Instruments flip book for kids

Your students will love our creative and interactive pack with information on erosion, forecasting, types of clouds, weather instruments, and meteorology all in one pack!

Weather Activities for Kids

Students will act like meteorologists to gather information about the weather using many different tools and instruments. They then make a forecast or prediction about what the weather will be like that day.

Weather Activity Pack

In our weather activity pack students will learn all about:

  • Weather Instruments
  • Weathering & Erosion
  • Four Types of Clouds
  • Meteorologists & Forecasting
  • Weather Maps
  • Vocabulary Posters

Weather Activities for Kids

In this complete unit, students will work on many hands-on creative activities to make learning fun yet meaningful. These are ideal for using at science centers, extension activities, or homework. Many of the activities fit perfectly in their science interactive notebooks so students can use them to help with science projects, homework, or to review for unit tests.

This weather activity pack includes several reading passages designed for students in grades 2-5 with real photos about the weather, weathering, erosion, types of clouds, weather instruments, forecasting the weather, meteorologists, weather maps, and much more!

Weather Activities for Kids

There are four character studies where students will meet Benjamin & Marie who are young scientists in training, Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, and Anders Celsius.

Weather activities for kids

The vocabulary posters with real-life photographs make designing a bulletin board a snap! Students will love traveling around the room to find and write down the definitions in their interactive notebooks underneath the vocabulary flaps.

Weather bulletin board with vocabulary

To reinforce learning have students complete the weather graphic organizer, weather maps with critical thinking questions, types of clouds accordion booklet, and thermometer activity.  An assessment and unit reflection is included to evaluate learning.

Weather Instruments Activities for Kids

Weather Instruments Activity Pack

Inside this pack,  you will find only the information and activities related to five weather instruments. There are passages to read about each weather instrument. Using the articles like a guide, they complete, cut, color, and assemble the weather instruments flip book.

  • Barometer
  • Wind Vane
  • Rain Gauge
  • Anemometer
  • Thermometer

Many of the activities in these units work well for partner and group work. Other teachers who have used this resource have suggested to read the passages as a whole group activity and then let the students spread out around the room to work on one activity each day.

Check Out Our Complete Weather Bundle Here

We also offer the whole Kit and Kaboodle BUNDLE that includes 15 passages, weather maps, vocabulary posters, weather instruments, organizers, comprehension and connection activities, test, 2 character studies on Celsius and Fahrenheit, AND a 100 slide PowerPoint presentation, and so much more!

Weather vocabulary activities

So don't let the rainy weather get you down! Instead, use it as an avenue for students to learn about different weather instruments and do fun science experiments just like a real meteorologist.

What's the Deal with Differentiated Instruction?

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 02, 2019
What's the Deal with Differentiated Instruction?

As a teacher, you know that there are many different ways to teach your students. It’s important that you are flexible as a teacher to different strategies that can help make learning easier and more fun for your students. Because students learn in different ways, you need to remain in tune to what your students are feeling and what concepts exist to make it easier for you to teach to your students’ needs.

Differentiated instruction is one of the most important concepts for a teacher to embrace in their classroom. It gives students the best opportunity to learn the material they are being taught. It is based on the concept that not every student learns in the same way. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the importance and benefits of differentiated instruction.

Teaching According to Learning Style

Differentiated instruction is intended to ensure that every student learns in a way that is best suited to them. Students tend to learn differently. There are three learning styles:

  1. Auditory: Students learn through listening.
  2. Visual: Students learn based on the things they see, such as pictures and images.
  3. Kinesthetic: Students learn by being physically involved or through their sense of touch. 

A visual learner will typically have a difficult time learning when they are only given an auditory lesson, while an auditory learner will have a hard time learning through a project that allows them to use their sense of touch.

Differentiated instruction helps ensure that you teach in a way that best accommodates each student’s learning style. 

Teaching in Multiple Ways

When you choose to embrace differentiated instruction, it means delivering the same material in different ways. This not only will help ensure that every student in the room has the chance to learn in a way that best suits their own personal learning style, but students will also go over the same material over and over again. The repetitiveness may make the material easier for them to remember.

One of the most important parts of differentiated instruction is that it allows you to reach every student, no matter where they are in the learning process or what way they learn the best. It creates a more diverse learning experience for everyone involved.

That is why many of our social studies and science units include various activities to help you meet all your student's needs.

Kinesthetic with Outdoor Learning Centers

Take advantage of the pleasant weather and get the students up and moving outdoors. Our Major Landforms Unit for Interactive Notebooks is the perfect example of how this works.  Plan ahead of time of where you could set up your outdoor learning centers.  Remember to review the rules ahead of time. Let students know if they don't follow the rules then you'll have to bring them back inside. That is usually enough to stop any misbehaviors.

The following 12 major landforms are included in this unit:
*Swamps and Marshes

There are twelve Landform Foldable Booklets with questions and scenes about each landform for students to read, answer questions, cut, paste, and color. These foldable booklets fit perfectly inside their interactive notebooks and provide a tool for students to come back to review at any time.

In addition, there are also twelve Landform Posters with a brief info and a real-life photo so students can visualize and connect to the information. The landform posters can be placed in at centers, a learning station, or a creative bulletin board display.

Create an outdoor learning station about each of the landforms. Be sure to put the foldable booklets and landform photo poster at each station or center. Each passage gives a definition of the landform and an example of one so students can form a connection to the information. You could have the students work in pairs or group work.

The foldable booklets have four questions for students to answer. There is also a related landform scene for students to color. They can use the posters with real-life photos to help them visualize and connect to the information.

Providing different activities like taking the students outside is just one of many ways to differentiate learning in your classroom. These are just some of the benefits of differentiated instruction and why it’s so important to implement it in your classroom.

Take a Step Back in Time to the Colonial Times

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 02, 2019
Take a Step Back in Time to the Colonial Times

When the Pilgrims made the voyage to the New World in 1620, they wanted the right to follow their own religious beliefs. Many of them wanted to start a new life free from the King of England. Not too long after the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth Rock, a new group called the Puritans left England. They also wanted to practice their own religion. They settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the first colony known as New England. Little did they know that life would be challenging as they faced many obstacles in the New World. New diseases, harsh weather, and little food made life in the colonies difficult.

Take a step back in time...with interactive activities to learn about what life was like during Colonial Times.

Parts 1-3 Life in Colonial Times by Region

The unit is divided up into six comprehensive parts to investigate all the different facets of life in the Thirteen Colonies.

Part 1: Life in New England Colonies                            Part 4: Interactive Activities

Part 2: Life in the Mid-Atlantic Colonies                       Part 5: Colonial Jobs & Technology

Part 3: Life in the Southern Colonies                            Part 6: Vocabulary

Let's explore more...

Have students read the differentiated passages about each region in the 13 Colonies: New England,Mid-Atlantic, and Southern Colonies. The passages focus on each region related to people, natural resources, climate, daily life, crops, houses, schooling, and economy. There is a graphic organizer, brochure activity, and close passage for students to complete at that center or learning station that ties it all together.

13 Colonies activities for kids

Some of the activities in this pack include mystery flaps, flip book, tri-fold brochures for each region, map activities, and more!

Solve the Mystery Flaps

Mystery flaps are an excellent way to assess student's learning. Ask the students to follow to identify each object and tell how it's related to the 13 Colonies. See the pictures below for step-by-step directions. 

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Flipping for Flipbooks

We hear from teachers all the time that students flip for flip books! Who wouldn't? Flipbooks are a fun way to reinforce learning and review at the end of a unit. Plus they fit neatly inside their notebooks giving them the INB stamp of approval!


13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Using Differentiated Reading Passages

The passages come in THREE levels of difficulty so that you can meet each student’s reading level with the same content information. Each passage has the same key ideas and essential information.

In this unit, you will find different levels of difficulty that have the same look. The levels are identified by a key at the top of the page. Use the key below to determine which reading level is best for your students. Having three levels for each passage gives you a lot of flexibility in the ways you can use them.

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Here are a few examples:

  • Guided Reading Groups: Divide the class into groups by reading level. Hand out the passages and organizers for each reading level to that group, respectively. Starting with the lower level, rotate between the groups to provide support as needed.
  • Mixed Ability Groups: Divide the class into 4-6 mixed ability groups. Hand out the MIDDLE level reading passages and organizers. Have students take turns reading and answering the questions on the organizers.
  • Partner Work: Divide the class into groups of 2. Be sure to have one student at a higher reading level in each group. Hand out the MIDDLE or HIGHER level reading passages depending on the makeup of the group.
  • Whole Group: Pass out the HIGHER level reading passages. Read aloud with the students for the first read. Then have students read the passage a second time and use it to answer the questions on the organizer or brochure activity.
  • Individual Reading: Hand out passages and organizers to each student at their approximate reading level to complete on their own.
  • Other uses: learning stations, centers, interventions, homework, morning work, and review.

Set up Learning Stations

At each station, place copies of the reading passages and organizers in a manilla folder. After reading the passages, students can complete the graphic organizers or brochure activity for each region. Printing the organizers off on different colored papers can help keep the stations organized and easily identifiable.

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Reinforce with Hands-on Activities

There are many activities included in this complete unit. You may not use them all, but with such a great variety you will have enough for all your needs. Some activities you might do in class while others you might use for homework, morning work, fast finishers, or to review at the end of the unit.

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Here are some of the activities in this unit:

  • Tri-fold Activity for each Region
  • Who am I? Activity
  • Maps for each region
  • 3 Cloze Passages w/keys
  • Graphic Organizers
  • 13 Colonies Flip Book
  • Life in Colonial Times Fact Sort
  • Mystery Flaps Activity Pages
  • Writing Prompt
  • 13 Colonies in Order of Founding Chart
  • Venn Diagrams

13 Colonies Task Cards Freebie

Our 13 Colonies Task Cards are a fun and engaging way to reinforce learning and review at the end of a unit or to use at centers. They are so versatile with so many different ways to use them in the classroom! You can grab the Task Cards Freebie HERE!

Tri-folds are Terrific!

Students can use the information in the reading passages and vocabulary posters to answer the questions on the tri-folds for each region. Tri-folds are a graphic organizer that after you've completely finished it, it looks like a brochure. Tri-folds are designed slightly smaller than a regular brochure so after it is cut out and glued it inside their social studies notebooks, there's still some space around the edges of the notebook page to write additional notes or more information.

13 Colonies Activities for Kids

Colonial Jobs

Everyone had a job to do! Whether it was farming, weaving baskets, making candles, or melting iron down to shape into horseshoes, everyone had a major role in keeping the colony in working order. First, have students read about important trades in the colonies. There are character studies for Basket-makers, Blacksmiths, Printers, Shoemakers, Tailors, and Silversmiths. Technology changed a lot during this time especially with regards to shipbuilding and plows. Use the Venn diagrams, fact sort, and graphic organizers to compare and contrast life in all the different regions!

Vocabulary is the Name of the Game

Every unit has vocabulary words that help students understand the topic better. Introduce the vocabulary words with the real-life photo posters included. You could post these posters around the classroom and have students travel around to match up and define the words in their flip flaps or use as a center activity. They also make a fun scavenger hunt and a decorative bulletin board, too!

13 Colonies Activities for Kids


Our newest product line is our BIG-MATS! BIG-MATS are big activity mats with lots of unique activities to do with your class! Teachers love using BIG-MATS to reinforce learning in a unique way. They are an excellent activity to use at the end of the lesson, as a culminating group activity, or to review for an upcoming test. Celebrate Colonial Times with these creative activities, and organizers that are FUN in a BIG way!

13 colonies big mats for kids

There are SIX---11 x 17 BIG-MATS ---TWO for each region--New England, Mid-Atlantic, and the Southern Colonies as PDF. Answer keys are included in this pack. Print and copy this back-to-back in black and white to have the students complete for a one of a kind 13 Colonies activity. There are lots of fun activities, word searches, unscrambles, and questions for students to complete, answer, and color the scenes for each region. Students love them because they are creative and unique. Just copy back-to-back for an easy no-prep meaningful and fun activity.

Ideas for Using:

*You can fold them in half to fit in a folder or a binder.
*Great for a culminating project or group work.
*Excellent way to review at the end of the unit.
*A fun homework activity to reinforce the lesson from the day.
*Students can work independently to answer the questions on the back page.
*Sample pictures are included

BIG-MATS can be printed at Office Depot for about 50 cents—for one copy--back to back-- in black and white. Simply upload the file online and in less than 24 hours I picked them up. If you choose this option, be sure to pick “Landscape” as the orientation. I also checked ¼ inch margins to make sure that there was plenty of room on each side. Many schools have a copier that can print and copy on 11x17 paper. If you can print it at your school, then you can skip the step above and copy the amount you need for your class.

Check Out All Our Thirteen Colonies Resources:

Life in Colonial Times Unit

Life in the Colonies PowerPoint

13 Colonies Task Card Freebie

13 Colonies BIG-MATS

13 Colonies Bundle: The Whole Kit and Kaboodle to Explore Life in Colonial Times

Happy Teaching!

Teaching Students How to Write for the Real World with RAFT

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 02, 2019
Teaching Students How to Write for the Real World with RAFT

Teaching writing is one of the most important skills you will cover in the classroom. This is because students take writing lessons with them for the rest of their educational careers and even into adulthood and in their jobs. It’s very important that you lay a solid foundation for writing strategy and good writing technique so that your students can learn and take this with them for a long time to come.

R.A.F.T. is a writing strategy that you might consider implementing in your classroom. This method can help your students focus on purposeful, goal-oriented writing. Here, we will take a look at what each of the letters in R.A.F.T. acronym stands for and how to implement it.

R – Role of the Writer

The R in R.A.F.T. teaches students to consider what their role as a writer is. To help them learn to write through a different perspective, you might encourage them to write a letter through the eyes of a musician or a dentist.

A – Audience

It’s important for students to learn to write with an audience in mind. You might encourage them to write a letter to the president, the CEO of a company of their choice or a peer. This will help them understand how their voice and the content they write will change.

F – Format

Students should have the opportunity to explore different formats of writing. They will get the opportunity to see the differences between writing an article for a hypothetical magazine versus writing a letter or a diary entry.

T – Topic

Before students even begin writing, they should have a good feel for what it is that they’ll be writing about. The topic is essential to get started in writing.

So, how do you incorporate the R.A.F.T. strategy in your classroom? You can start by writing the acronym on the board and help your students come up with different perspectives of who the narrow could be, who the audience might be, what format they could use to convey their message, and what topic they might be writing about. You can also encourage them to do journal entries with the R.A.F.T. message and by having them complete writing assignments that allow them to use this writing strategy.

Are there any tips you’d add for other teachers trying to use R.A.F.T. in their own writing instruction and curriculum? What do you think are the main benefits of using this writing strategy with your students?

How to Use Learning Contracts as Learning Tools

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 02, 2019
How to Use Learning Contracts as Learning Tools

Classroom management is a very important part of a teacher’s daily work. You may already know that sometimes the focus will be on managing the entire classroom, and other times, it will be focused on managing just one student or a smaller group of students. There are some downsides to focusing your attention on just one student, and this is where learning contracts can come in handy.

If you’re looking for new classroom management techniques, you might have considered learning contracts. Learning contracts have some benefits to offer. Here, we will take a closer look at using learning contracts effectively in the classroom.

What Are Learning Contracts?

A learning contract is an agreement between the student and the teacher, which specifically states the work that needs to be done, what is expected from both teacher and student, and the time frame in which it will be completed. Some of the other things the contract may include:

  • The amount of work that needs to be done.
  • The type of work that needs to be done (e.g. essay, presentation).
  • The criteria that will be used for evaluation.
  • Any potential consequences for not meeting the terms of the assignment.

You can add to this as appropriate for your students and the situation at hand. You can start with a template but make your learning contracts your own.

Using Learning Contracts Effectively

Learning contracts can be a great way to hold your students accountable for the project that needs to be completed. They are more likely to have a better understanding of, as well as be more likely to follow through, with what needs to be done.

Although handing your student a contract to sign sounds great, it’s not always that simple. Your student may require special accommodations or concerns. This is why it’s a great idea to meet with your students individually to discuss any questions they may have. This can also help allow you to better tailor the project or assignment to their learning style and level of readiness. Another key element is consistency. It can be hard sometimes but following through every time is the key to making progress.

When done properly, learning contracts can be a great classroom management technique. The more you do it, the better you will get at learning how to work with contracts with your students.


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