"Discussion Partners" are partners that work on an activity, reading assignment, project, or other assignment together and then discuss what they've learned or complete a written activity.
Why use Discussion Partners?
Research has shown that students not only need to read and write but also need to discuss (or talk) about a new concept or skill to really learn and fully understand it. According to the University of Washington, "A well-planned discussion can encourage and stimulate student learning and add variety to your class. While “good” discussions can be a powerful tool for encouraging student learning if done correctly."
In My Classroom:
At the start of each unit, I have students set up their "Discussion Partners" for the entire unit. It's a quick 15 minute activity that will make our transitions into partner work seamless for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Setting it up takes a little practice for the students but by the second unit they've got it down and look forward to it (as much as I do!)
What it Looks Like:
It consists of a map with 3-5 cities or countries listed below the map where the students will write the name of their Discussion Partner at each destination. However, it's not as simple as that! There are guidelines that students must follow in order to pick their Discussion Partners and this must be taught and practiced like every other classroom procedures. For example, look at the working partner example below for ancient Rome. Below the map, list 5 cities where students will meet with their chosen partners.
How it Works:
Give the students specific guidelines they must follow when setting up their "Discussion Partners." I write the 5 requirements on the board. For example, I might say, "For Rome you will need to find someone in this class who is born in a different month than you. In Florence, you must work with the opposite sex (boy-girl). In Venice, you must find someone who gets to school by a different mode of transportation than you. In Naples, you must work with someone who you've never worked with before in this class. In Milan, you may work with a friend. (I always let them have one friend partner for each unit.) Each unit it's a different set of guidelines, except for the friend and working with someone different. I tell them that by the end of the year, they will have worked with everyone in the class. I also tell them that you don't have to like everyone but you do have to work with them in a courteous and team-like manner just like in the real work world.
I let the students know that they will have 6-8 minutes to find all five discussion partners and then sit back down at their desk. I tell the students that, "When I call time, if you don't have a partner for one or two of the cities then I will choose your partners for you." This helps to encourage them to get it done themselves. Also, if you have an odd number of students in that class, then tell them that you have the last say in deciding who the group of 3 will be or if you want someone to work alone.
Lastly, practice it. Don't expect the first time to go perfectly. This is work in progress so to speak! It's probably new to them so give them feedback on how to make it go smoother. Then practice it again. I use it for all my units in social studies throughout the year. I have found it's well worth the extra time in the start of each unit because at any point during the unit, I can just say, "It's time to meet with your Naples Discussion Partner to read the article about the Roman Republic and answer the questions that follow. You have fifteen minutes to complete the reading and questions together...go!"
Next, model for them how to ask someone nicely to be their partner.
Earth Day is a day to celebrate planet Earth. The very first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated in events to support environmental protection. Cities and schools planned educational presentations, recycling events, and cleanups at their local parks, beaches, and other outdoor areas. Today, over 141 nations around the world celebrate Earth Day.
Here are 5 quick and creative ways to celebrate Earth Day in the classroom:
1. Go on an Earth Day Scavenger Hunt!
Enjoy Earth Day by going on an Earth Day Scavenger Hunt! Have students grab a clipboard and the Earth Day Scavenger Hunt that's part of my FREE Earth Day Activity Pack. Instruct them to be on the lookout for all that Planet Earth has to offer. Use their senses by asking the following questions:
What do they see? Do they see any creepy crawly insects, birds gliding overhead, new buds or leaves on trees, a clear blue sky, or gray rain clouds? Have students draw or sketch and color their findings in the boxes on their sheet.
What do they smell? Have students focus on smelling. Can they smell any sweet fragrant flowers, fresh cut grass, or someone grilling in the distance?
What do they feel? Have students close their eyes and touch the ground. Can they feel the soft grass, or the rough rock, bark on a twig, the warmth of the sun, or even a light breeze?
What do they hear? Listen closely. Do they hear a bird chirping, other children playing outside, zipping cars in the distance, a school bell, or plants swaying in the breeze?
What do they taste? This one will have to wait for a later Earth Day Snack!
The other purpose of this Scavenger Hunt is for students pick up any litter or trash they find on our mini field trip. Remember to bring a couple of trash bags.
2. Learn About Ways We Can Save the Earth!
In our Earth Day Activity Pack there are three high-interest kid-friendly informational articles and activities to teach about: *What is Earth Day? *Ways to Save Our Earth *The Natural Cycles of the Earth
Have students bring in one small new clean sponge from home. Purchase some flower seeds. Have students wet the sponge so that it's really damp. Next, they plant their seeds inside the sponge. Have them push the seeds down into the sponge just enough so the seeds won't’ fall off when the sponge is picked up. Place the sponges on a Styrofoam plate that has each student’s name written in permanent marker. Place the plates in a sunny window. Have students water their sponges each day. *Don’t let the sponge dry out completely. Place a clear plastic container over sponges at night to keep it moist.
4. Spring Clean the Classroom
Earth Day is also about cleaning up our Earth. So why not have the students do some spring cleaning? Buy some Green Wise disinfectant wipes or make your own solution with Baking Soda, Lemon Juice, and water in a pail. Dip in a paper towel and it’s ready to go. Have students clean bookshelves, cupboards, supply bins, sinks, counters, and door handles. It’s also a perfect time to clean their desks and cubbies inside and out.
5. Create an Earth Day Flip Book
Everything you need to learn more about Earth Day, ways to save and protect our Earth, and lots of engaging student activities are included in this Free Earth Day Activity Pack. This Earth Day Activity Pack includes kid-friendly articles and fun activities including: *Flip Book *Earth Day Mystery Flaps for Flip Book *Earth Day Poster *Acrostic Poem Template *Earth Day-Themed Papers *Two Earth Day Writing Prompts *Vocabulary Flip Flaps *Vocabulary Posters- perfect for bulletin boards
Self-esteem is the one of the most valuable tools for students to succeed in school. As teachers we are instrumental in making this happen. But how do we make it happen? Teachers have a lot of power! Do you remember your favorite teachers? The ones who made a difference in your life?
It’s the little things that make a BIG difference! Start small by starting an “Awesome” Book!
Set up your “Awesome” Book: First, find a large notebook that lies flat when I open it. I prefer to use a one subject spiral notebook with pocket folders, not composition, because then I can open it up and flip it around. Label the top of each page in the notebook with the name of each student.
Decorate the Notebook Over the Top! Cover it with the word “AWESOME” with either colorful permanent markers, stickers, or even fancy duct tape that you know the students will recognize. Be creative and have fun to make it look colorful and extraordinary.
Introduce the “AWESOME notebook” and ritual to students. Make a big deal out of it! Explain to them that you will be walking around the classroom at different times during the day and observing them. So if they see you carrying around this notebook or clipboard and taking notes, it’s because you are looking for “Awesome” things to write in your notebook.
Set Expectations & Give Examples: Explain that you know that they will be doing tons of awesome things like helping out a partner, highlighting details in an article, sharing a pencil with a student who needs one, taking detailed notes on their sticky note during reading time, being a good leader by handing in your homework every day, keeping a group on task, or whatever your specific classroom expectations are.
Model it: I might say to the students, “For instance, today I noticed that Meggen volunteered to read the poem to the class. And did you notice the way she read it? She read it expression and proper rhythm. She did an “Awesome” job of reading that poem. I was very proud of her. How many of you noticed that after she read it to us, I jotted down a note in my “Awesome” notebook? Here’s what I wrote down, “September 22. Meggen volunteered to read “title of poem” aloud to the class. She read it loudly and with lots of expression.”
Get the students Involved! Ask the class what do they think I will be doing with these notes of awesomeness? Call on students to hear what they think. You might even get some new awesome ideas.
Show them the power of the “Awesome” book & sell it to your students!I often tell the students, “I love all your ideas and I will keep them mind for the future. But for now, here’s what I plan to do with these notes. Inside this notebook is a page dedicated for each of you (show them a few pages with names). At the end of each day and week, I am going to look through my “Awesome” book and chose a few students to recognize. I might share my observations with the class and sometimes I might share it with your families at home. I might send home a positive (good) note home, it looks like this. Everyone say, “Oooh! Ahhh!” Do you know how much you’re your parents and grandparents are going to love to get these good notes home? They will absolutely love it! Or I might even send a note to the principal of our school, so she knows how awesome you’re doing in this class. Who knows I might even do all these things. The most important thing is that you continue doing awesome things all the time because you never know when or who I am watching. But know this. . . I am watching all the time.”
Practice it right then! Tell them you’re going to practice it. Begin on the next lesson of the day. Take some notes in your “awesome” notebook. Show the students the front of the notebook so they see that you’re taking down some notes. After the lesson is over, share a note or two with the students. It’s very important to continue practicing this everyday so it become a routine. Pick a time that works well with your classroom schedule. Maybe right after recess or at the end of the day. But always hold up the “awesome” notebook many times throughout the day so they see that you’re following through on your word and that you’re watching and taking notes. You will probably see or hear students whisper, “Look Ms. Smart has the “awesome” book out. Let’s do our best on this project. Maybe she’ll notice us.”
Weekly Recognition: At the end of each week, draw a line across the page under where the notes end for each student’s name. This makes it easier to figure out where to start the next week. It also helps you to notice who you haven’t taken notes on recently. Then pick out a few students that you want to recognize and write a positive (good) note home. Put a star next to those student notes. It’ll help you remember who you've recognized and how many times as the weeks fly by. Set a goal of how many students you want to recognize each day and/or week. I announce 1 or 2 students and good deeds at the end of each day. Weekly I send home 2-3 positive notes home at the end of the week. I set a goal of doing this on Friday afternoons and won’t let myself leave for the weekend until it’s finished.
What’s the Purpose? Now, what the students don’t know is that you’re using this notebook for several purposes. First, as a way to reinforce positive behavior and build self-esteem in each student. However, you can make any kind of note in this notebook that also helps you because the students will never get to read it.
The more ways you use it, the more valuable it becomes!
This notebook is a way to record anecdotal notes such as strengths or weaknesses of a student, what students need extra help on a specific concept or skill, or what you need to reteach or practice more.
In the back of the notebook where there’s some extra pages, I have a “Miscellaneous” Section where I can write down notes to myself.
It also becomes a classroom management tool. The more you use it the more the students will follow your class procedures and be better behaved.
For reflection notes not only about each student but also about the class as a whole. For example, I might note that Miguel was struggling with his multiplication facts so I need to send home some fact cards or extra practice sheets for him.
Another great way to use this strategy is you could jot down behavior or social issues that arise too. Maybe you notice that Sam and Sophia had a hard time working together during centers today. Then you can have a talk with both them and see how if it gets better. If not, maybe they shouldn't be in the same group for a bit.
It also serves as a record for Parent Teacher Conferences, important meetings, and report cards.
St. Patrick’s Day is such a fun holiday to share with students. They love “being green” for a day and learning about this unique holiday. There are many creative and inexpensive ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the classroom. Here’s a list of my top 6!
1. A Visit From A Leprechaun
In the spirit of the mischievous leprechauns everywhere, early in the morning before students arrive turn a few things upside down or sideways. The calendar or posters on bulletin boards are great things they will notice. I also flip my computer chair over, leave a few dry erase markers on the floor, tip over a box of rulers, and pull out a few books from the bookshelf left open with a bookmark to look like someone was reading!
2. Got Glitter?
I love haphazardly spilling a handful of lucky charms on all the desks. Adding a dash of gold or green glitter around the classroom (on countertops, in the sink, on bookshelves, or on an empty desk) gives it an extra element of surprise. I love seeing the student's eyes light up when they enter the classroom and see it.
3. Share a Great Book
Here are my favorites:
How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace is an awesome best-selling book that is sure to delight your students. The author sets up the scene by creating the perfect trap! Now all you need to do is wait. Is this the year you'll finally catch the leprechaun? Start a St. Patrick's Day tradition with this fun and lively children's book.
St. Patrick's Day By Gail Gibbons tells the history behind Saint Patrick. A perfect introduction to the customs surrounding the holiday-- parades, special meals, and of course wearing lots of green.
Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato By Tomie dePaola tells an old Irish story that dates back to 200 years ago. It's a fun story with some "good" luck that offers an opportunity to have discussions on a number of issues that make everyone think.
4. Enjoy a GREEN Snack
I usually buy a couple of gallons of milk and add green food coloring to make it green. Or you could buy some green fruit juice. When the students are gone to lunch, I hide some chocolate gold coins in their desks.
Other FUN ideas:
Fruits such as kiwi, green apples, and green grapes make a healthy snack.
Add some green veggies such as cucumber and zucchini sticks to the mix.
Lucky Charms Trail Mix--add some green M&M's, popcorn, and mini-marshmallow.
Make Shamrock Shakes--add some vanilla ice cream, milk, peppermint extract, and green food coloring in a blender. Mix well. Top with whip cream and green sprinkles.
Give your students a sweet and simple treat with our colorful bag tags and toppers. To assemble: I stapled these tags to the top of 4 x 6 clear plastic bags and filled it with a special treat such as Chex mix, gummy worms, chocolate gold coins, hugs, and kisses, or Lucky Charms cereal.
Looking for a fun hands-on activity with some built-in character education? Have students learn about the history of Saint Patrick and this special holiday. Our St. Patrick's Day Activity Packcomes with reading passages, hands-on activities, writing activities, and a flipbook.
Here's a short movie that you can show your kiddos about the history of St. Patrick's Day.
Post the posters around the classroom and have students travel around to find the answers to the questions on the scavenger hunt. Students will learn about the traditions of this fun holiday as they search for clues.
Yoga is a state of mind. It helps relax and still the body. In this relaxed and focused state, you can direct the mind toward a particular goal or outcome with little distractions. Setting the stage with an “I can do it!” attitude helps inspire and motivate your students to work toward a specific goal. Best of all, you don’t have to be a yogi master to bring some of these benefits to your students.
For hundreds of years, people have reaped the benefits of yoga. Research has proven that yoga can offer the following benefits:
Perfect for goal-setting (intentions)
Living and focusing on the present
Improved strength & flexibility
Three Brilliant Ways to Use Yoga in the Classroom
1. Just Breathe
Just like with any other new skill, start slow and build on from there. First, teach your students how to breathe. Sounds simple enough, but building awareness of breathing is an important skill. Since breathing and mind are connected, awareness of breathing will help students calm their thoughts and focus.
Practice this by having students sit criss-cross applesauce on the floor. Tell them to close their eyes with their palms together at heart center. Have them take a deep breath in through their nose and hold it for a count of three. Then slowly breathe out through their mouth. Exhales should sound like the waves of an ocean or Darth Vader’s breathing. Model for students how to use your breath to fog up a mirror. This is how they should practice breathing for these deep cleansing breaths. Practice 3-5 deep cleansing breaths with your students each day.
After the deep breaths, have students continue breathing in and out quietly through their noses at their regular breathing pace. Hint: I tell my students to count their breaths on the inhale, this helps them to focus on their breathing and not let their minds wander.
When is the best time to just breathe? Use breathing exercises when you want to help your students relax or focus on a difficult task. I have used this strategy with my students each morning to start the day and after recess to calm their minds and bodies. It works wonders by giving them a few minutes to relax and reset their minds so we can refocus on a new task.
2. Set A Goal (Intention)
After taking some deep breaths to quiet and still the mind, then I have students set their daily goals. This procedure works best in the early morning or right before a particular task like a writing activity, math lesson, or a test.
Seriously, this is one of the best teaching strategies I have ever discovered. I’ve used this with great success right before a specific task. It works wonders to calm down and reset their brains after recess, before starting a new task or activity, or before taking a test. After 5-10 minutes of breathing exercises, it’s time to set the stage.
While students are focusing on their breathing, guide them to think about the day ahead. You might say, “Everyday we get to start new. We can choose to make this day GREAT. We can choose to work hard to be the BEST we can be. We can choose not to give up when something gets hard for us. We CAN focus our minds on anything we want to accomplish. So I ask you, what is your goal for today? What do YOU want to do better? What will you FOCUS on improving today? Take three more breaths. After I release you, I want you to go back to your desk and write down your goal for today.”
Each day after our morning meeting, the students wrote down their daily goal on a “Weekly Goal Chart.” That sticky note sat on their desk all day. It served as a constant reminder. At the end of the day, I had the students put the sticky note in their journals. Underneath it, they had to write a mini-reflection about their day. They wrote 2-3 sentences about their day.
They must answer one of the following questions: 1. Did you meet your goal for today? If not, what could you do differently next time? If you did, explain how it made you feel. 2. Write down something new you learned today. 3. What was your favorite classroom activity or lesson today? Why? 4. Write down a new word you learned. Use it in a complete sentence. 5. Write down something new you learned about YOURSELF as a student today. 6. What was your favorite part of today? Why? 7. What was the best thing you read today? Why?
For intermediate students, it helps to have them write down their daily goals in a notebook or on a sticky note each day. That way it keeps the goal in the forefront of their minds and they can refer to it and see how they are progressing over time.
3. Focused Goal-Setting
Give students some examples of goals for a particular task. For example, I might say, “I want you to set a goal in your mind for our writing lesson today. Maybe your goal for today is to do your best even if writing is not your favorite subject. Maybe your goal is to write at least 200 words in your journal. Perhaps you will work on adding ten more descriptive words to your writing. Whatever your goal is for today it must include you being the best YOU! Believe in yourself and know that you can do anything you set your mind to. After you’ve set your goal for today, take five more breaths. Then quietly go back to your seats and take out your writer’s notebooks and begin.”
The key is setting a goal for today or for that particular lesson. We all have daily goals usually in the form of a list. But think of the potential of our students when we teach them and encourage them to set a daily goal or a target for a specific lesson or task. Not only are we giving them the power to succeed, but we are also building their self-esteem and teaching them the power of positive thinking. On average, it takes 20-30 days of practicing a skill before it becomes a habit. So, imagine if we do breathing exercises and goal-setting each day of the school year. Students will have done it about 180 times. In essence, these strategies and practices could become life-long habits for students. Now that’s powerful!
When is it best to use this focused goal-setting strategy? *First thing in the morning *After Morning Meeting *After Recess *Before Writer’s Workshop *Before a Test
3. Take a Yoga Break
We’ve all heard of brain breaks, but have you heard of a yoga break? I use brain breaks in my classroom as part of my reward system. If we have an excellent lesson, extra time, or if I can tell that the students are getting restless, I have the star student pull a card from the box. Since I’ve started doing yoga in the classroom, the students are completely into having a yoga break. Most of the time during our yoga time we don’t have time to just explore different poses so instead we doing it during a yoga break. For our yoga break, we might try one of the poses that they learned and practiced. I challenge the students to hold that pose. Then I give them a couple of minutes to explore. The Eagle Pose is perfect for this! The Eagle Pose is where students twist one leg around the other, so they are standing on only one leg. Then wrapped your arms around each other, so they are intertwined. While standing on one leg, start to sit down into chair position to see how far they can go. It’s amazing what they’ll come up with when yo tell them to explore this pose or have fun with it.
Just like any other classroom activity, make sure to set up and practice “Yoga Rules” and procedures before starting yoga in the classroom. Safety always comes first.
Why not take a chance and try out some of these yoga practices this school year. It’s a win-win for everyone. Even if you choose to practice only breathing exercises this year, I promise, you and your students will find it refreshing, beneficial, and fun!
It's time for cooler weather, field trips to the apple orchard, watching football, carving pumpkins, and enjoying the beauty of the changing landscapes. Autumn may bring the return of school and fun holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, but many other things make this season the best one of all!
I am excited to kick off the fall season with some creative and hands-on resources. After several requests to bundle our Autumn resources, we have released the Fall Activities Bundle! Students will love the many activities in this bundle as they learn about spiders, pumpkins, owls, and bats! This resource has 4 separate units rolled into one huge pack with more than 150 pages in all!! These activities are designed to be fun, interactive, and engaging!
These units are a super easy way to integrate science standards and literacy skills across the curriculum.
Give a Hoot for Owls
Owls are amazing birds! Did you know that owls are one of the oldest species in existence? Fossils of owls have been found dating back over 60 million years ago. People in countries from all over the world have always had a fascination with owls. Many cultures have made up stories or myths about owls for thousands of years. In this activity pack students will learn all about Barn Owls, Snowy Owls, Life Cycle of an Owl, Body Parts, and how owls help humans. Inside this unit you will find reading passages to learn all about owls and many hands-on activities to reinforce learning.
Posters Make an Attractive Bulletin Board in a Snap!
Introduce the eight 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.
Students can read the informational articles all about owls and the life cycle of an owl to give them a clear understanding. They will love the fun character studies where they will Meet Hoot, a barn owl and Meet Snowy, a snowy owl. The informational articles are written in the form of a mini-booklet with questions and scenes for students to connect, color, and assemble. Pages can be stapled at the top to make a full-sized booklet or be cut in half to create a half-page mini-book.
Lots of Hands-on Activities Allow for Differentiation
Students can complete the Barn Owl Mini-booklet and writing activities to complete their study on owls. These make excellent activities to do independently at centers. They can use the articles as a reference source to help them complete the pages of the Mini-booklet. Lastly, they cut, color, and assemble the Mini-booklet. Mini-booklets can be glued or stapled inside their interactive notebooks, file folder, or a 12 x 18 piece of construction paper folded like a book cover. Students could then decorate the cover of the booklet. Hoot! Hoot!
Plus students will love meeting two owl characters:
Meet Hoot (a barn owl)
Meet Snowy (a snowy owl)
✔Reading Passages (4) ✔Mini-booklet all about owls ✔Compare/Contrast Activity ✔Life cycle of a barn owl ✔A Life Cycle Chart ✔Color the Owls with True Facts ✔Create an Owl Mini-booklet ✔Owl Organizer ✔Vocabulary Posters (8) ✔Spotlight on Vocabulary ✔Owl Writing Project ✔Great for the Fall Season ✔Common Core Aligned
Bats are amazing little creatures that are very helpful to people! Bats are mammals just like us! But the one thing that makes bats unique from all other mammals is that they can fly! Students will love learning all about bats with these high-interest informational articles, creative character bats, and fictional bat story.
Informational and Fictional Passages to Compare and Contrast
Start off the unit with three fun and factual character bats: Buddy Boo (a megabat), Berry Boo (a fruit bat), and Bitty Boo (a microbat). Students will love learning about them.
Read a fictional story about a bat called “An Uninvited Guest” and answer the questions to pique their interest and build background knowledge. These are perfect for guided reading groups with two sets of skill-based questions. This is also a great discussion starter for real life situations.
Students will learn all about bats with informational articles on: ✔Diet ✔Body parts ✔Echolocation ✔Hibernation ✔Ways bats help people
Reading passages and activities are great for centers too. One of the activities to complete is a accordion book. This unit was updated in 2016 to include a flip booklet. They will color, cut, and build their batty books. Once completed these can be glued inside their interactive notebooks.
Your students will go batty for this creative hands-on resource! This non-fiction unit focuses on 1st and 2nd Grade Common Core ELA Standards with lots of fun activities that are perfect for interactive notebooks, too!
This unit has been newly updated and now includes the Life Cycle of a Bat and a Bat Flip Book!
Shine a Spotlight on Vocabulary
Introduce the 6 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. In addition, the vocabulary flip flaps are a great hands-on activity that works well in their interactive notebooks. Shine a spotlight on vocabulary!
Pumpkins come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes just perfect for students observation and exploration. In this unit students will predict, explore, and estimate all about their chosen pumpkin. In this unit, they will combine a variety of reading, math skills, and scientific observation skills to learn all about pumpkins. Just in time for Halloween!
Start the Unit by Reading the Kid-Friendly Passages
Have students read the passages and complete the different activities. You could have students work with a partner or in small groups. Putting one article and a related activity at each center or station works well with intermediate students.
Students will learn all about pumpkins including:
✔Life cycle of a Pumpkin
✔Parts of a Pumpkin
✔Fruit or Vegetable Activity
✔Homemade Pumpkin Treats
Pumpkin Activities are Perfect for Science Centers
There are lots of activities included in this pack including a 6-page flip book. Have students complete the flip booklet and build it page by page. I usually have them do one page at each center or station. They can use the articles as a reference source to help them complete the pages of the booklet. Lastly, cut, color, and assemble the booklet. Flip up books can be glued or stapled inside their interactive notebooks, file folder, or a 12x18 piece of construction paper folded like a book cover.
This unit includes many interactive activities including:
✔Meet Alexander - a young botanist
✔Summarize How to Grow a Gigantic Pumpkin
✔Create a Pumpkin Facts Mini-booklet
✔Math Task Cards
✔Fruit & Veggie Pocket Sort
✔All About Pumpkins---Fact and Opinion
✔Spotlight on Vocabulary
✔Vocabulary Flip Flaps
✔PLUS 6 page Flip Booklet
Vocabulary Posters with Real-Life Photos
Life cycle information and diagrams are included in all four of these units. At the end of the unit, students will be able to compare and contrast the life cycle of pumpkin to bats, owls, and spiders.
Learning about spiders can be fun! This unit includes informational articles, hands-on activities, and vocabulary posters for those creepy, crawly creatures. This unit focuses on Arachnids, Life Cycle of a Spider, Black Widow Spiders, Wolf Spiders, and Tarantulas. There are lots of hands-on activities and organizers for students to show what they know. This pack can be set up as five fun activities for centers for a week long investigation.
High Interest Informational Articles Highlight 3 Types of Spiders
✔Black Widows ✔ Wolf Spiders ✔Tarantulas
Use the Fact Sort to Compare and Contrast
Compare these three types of spiders with a fun cut-n-sort activity with hidden words. Students can use the articles and their newly acquired knowledge to sort the facts and put them under the correct spider. After sorting all the facts, students can move them around to spell out a hidden word. This a fun comparison alternative to the usual Venn diagram.
What’s inside At a Glance:
✔Informational Articles About Awesome Arachnids, Black Widows, Wolf Spiders, Tarantulas and Life Cycle of a Spider ✔Black Widows Close Up ✔Spotlight on Wolf Spiders ✔Tarantulas Uncovered ✔Compare & Contrast All Three Spiders--Cut-n-Sort Activity with Hidden Words ✔Black Widows Fact Wheel ✔Wolf Spider Fact Wheel ✔Tarantulas Fact Wheel ✔Labels the Parts of a Spider ✔All about Spiders Fact or Opinion ✔Life Cycle of a Spider Diagram ✔Spiders Flip Booklet (5-pages) ✔Vocabulary Flip Flaps ✔Spotlight on Vocabulary ✔Spider Vocabulary Posters
Ask and answer questions to demonstrate the understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.
Summarize the life cycle of animals including birth and developing into an adult.
Describe how the structures of plants and animals complement the environment of the plant or animal.
Describe different animal adaptations including camouflage, defense mechanisms, movement, hibernation, and migration.
How to Use Flip Books as a Learning Tool
Have students complete the flip book and build it page by page. I usually have them do one page at each center or learning station. They can use the articles as a reference source to help them complete the pages of the booklet. Lastly, they cut, color, and assemble the booklet. Flip books can be glued or stapled inside their interactive notebooks, file folder, or a 12 x 18 piece of construction paper folded like a book cover. They could also decorate the outside of the folder with a colorful design of their own.
Kids young and old adore Halloween. It’s a fun chance to dress up as someone else, enjoy the fall weather, and have a scary good time. Hosting a frightfully fun kids’ party in the classroom can be simple and enjoyable with these creative ideas for homemade games, snacks, and decorations.
Three Bone-Rattling Games
No kids’ party would be complete without a few games to keep things active. Depending on the ages of the students, there are lots of Halloween-themed activities that can be played right in the classroom. Ask your room mother or other parent volunteers to come in and help with these fun activities. Gather all the supplies for the games and divide the students up into groups. Then organize the classroom into stations where students have space to play different games.
Instead of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, try the fun and festive pin-the-face-on-the-pumpkin. First, purchase an extra-large pumpkin, and place it on a stool or bench. Cut eyes, noses, and mouths out of black construction paper and affix masking tape or double-sided tape to the backside. To play the game, blindfold the kids and have them take turns trying to put on the jack-o-lantern’s facial features.
For monster bowling, make ghostly pins by putting beans or sand in empty plastic bottles and draping them with white fabric. Secure the fabric on the empty bottles with rubber bands and draw on faces with permanent markers. Add stick-on eyes, mouth, and teeth to make your bowling ball look like a monster’s head. Another quieter version of this game uses rolls of toilet paper as the pins. If you chose this option, you might want to wrap the toilet paper with a piece of fabric and tuck in the ends to keep it from falling apart too quickly. You can use a small round pumpkin or a tennis ball in place of the bowling ball.
Mummy Wrapping Contest
This fun game only requires a few rolls of toilet paper. Divide the class into 4-6 stations. Instruct the students to pick one person to be the "mummy." The designated mummy is to hold very still while the other students carefully wrap him or her in toilet paper. The object of the game is to see which team is the fastest at wrapping their mummy. This is a team-oriented game where the students work together to pass the roll of toilet paper to each other. On your command, the game begins. The team to use all their toilet paper and wrap their mummy the best wins!
Three Spellbinding Snacks
Ghastly Ghostly Punch
Regular snacks and beverages can take on a frightful theme with a little creativity. To turn your favorite punch or juice into witches’ brew, place a metal bowl inside a large cauldron-like pot. Make ghostly ice by filling a plastic mask and rubber gloves with water. Be sure to tape over the eye, nose, and mouth holes with duck tape before filling it with water. Then place them in the freezer overnight. The next morning, just remove the ice from the mask and gloves, and you’ve got a frozen face and hands for punch with a surprising punch.
For a quick and easy snack try some mummy mini pizzas. This is a fun snack that students can prepare on their own. Have parents donate the ingredients for this healthy filling treat and you are set to go. Students top English muffins with pizza sauce shredded mozzarella and black olives for eyes. Then devour!
Creepy Crawling Cupcakes
Cupcakes are always a bit hit with youngsters. Decorate cooled cupcakes with orange frosting and cobweb design. Wash and add a few plastic black spiders from the dollar store. If you prefer, decorate the cupcakes with facial features cut from black licorice to make festive-looking jack-o-lanterns.
Read a Spooktacular Story
Take a trip to your school or community library to gather a few spooktacular Halloween books to read to your class. You'll find lots to choose from but here are a few favorite books that can be used as an activity during the party.
Here are few of my favorites tales:
Halloween Hustleby Charlotte Gunnufson. In the dark with a funky beat. Something white with bony feet. Skeleton dancing up the street and doing the Halloween Hustle. Your students will love this catchy rhyming story about Skeleton is dancing his way to a Halloween party.As he grooves across town, he keeps stumbling, tumbling, and falling apart! Can Skeleton stay in one piece long enough to make it to the party?
The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis is a story about two brothers and their little sister, who see the biggest pumpkin they've ever seen in their lives. They try to roll the pumpkin down the hill to show everyone, but it's too big! Before long, it's bumping and thumping and rolling down the hillside out of control. This is a catchy and repetitive story to read aloud in the classroom.
Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbel. The first pumpkin Tim ever carved was fierce and funny, and he named it Jack. When Halloween was over and the pumpkin was beginning to rot, Tim set it out in the garden and throughout the weeks he watched it change.
Dreadful Classroom Decorations
Turn your classroom into a haunted scene with fake cobwebs and floating jack-o-lanterns. Draw faces on a few orange helium-inflated balloons with a permanent marker for floating jack-o-lanterns.
For your reading chair, use a white pillowcase to turn it into ghostly chair cover. Simply cut out eye and mouth shapes from black felt and attach with fabric glue.
Be sure to set the mood with spooky sounds. Make a playlist with hits like Flying Purple People Eater, Monster Mash, and don’t forget Thriller.
There is something about Halloween which really catches the imaginations of children maybe it’s all the sweets, games, tales, and dressing up! This year throw a spooktacular party for some downright thrilling fun! Happy Halloween!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 allour people."
In honor of all women around the world, our Women's History Bundleis a perfect classroom companion. Here are the women of character, courage, and commitment that it celebrates:
Susan B. Anthony
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. This will introduce the six famous women and create a fun scrapbook in a short period.
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