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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.

CHECKOUT THE CREATE A COUNTRY PROJECT HERE!

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!

CHECKOUT OUR BEST YEAR EVER MEMORY BOOK HERE!

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.

How to Make Mother's Day Special

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 03, 2019
How 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.

Directions:

  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 Mother' sDay

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 the 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:
*Island
*Lakes
*Valley
*Volcano
*Rivers
*Peninsula
*Glaciers
*Mountains
*Canyons
*Oceans
*Swamps and Marshes
*Delta

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 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 Flip books

We hear from teachers all the time that students flip for flip books! Who wouldn't? Flip books 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

BIG-MATS = BIG FUN

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 these 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 Students to Write with RAFTTeaching 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 to 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.

Creating Interest Centers for the Modern Classroom

By Julieann Samayoa
on January 02, 2019
Creating Interest Centers for the Modern Classroom

There are many important things that make up a modern classroom. In addition to having great curriculum, you need to have the tools and centers necessary for proper learning.

Interest centers, or learning centers, are spaces that are set aside in the classroom to provide your students with access to learning materials. If you’re thinking about adding learning centers to your classroom, you might not be sure where to start. Here are some ideas on how to create interest centers for the modern classroom.

Design an Inviting Space

Give your students a comfortable area where they can go to learn. A table and chairs, a beanbag chair, or a cozy nook with pillows will make your students want to visit the learning center.

Here are some common parts of a learning center:

  • A title to identify the center for what it is
  • Space for keeping things that you need to use in the center
  • Storage bins or boxes for keeping everything tidy
  • Materials needed for using in the center
  • Instructions on how to use things in that particular center
  • Learning alternatives in case some tasks in the center are too difficult for some students

Make the Space Visually Appealing

Students will be more likely to use the interest center you’ve created for them if it’s visually appealing. Consider how you will do this. For example, you might make your learning center autumn-themed with colorful leaves. If possible, you might even include some pop culture in your interest center. Keep in mind that bright colors are more likely to catch your students’ attention.

Create a Fun Learning Space

Your students aren’t going to want to visit the learning center you’ve created for them if they find it boring. Find ways to deliver the material you want them to learn in a fun, unique way. For example, you might consider creating a game for them to play.

There are many different types of learning centers you can create in your modern classroom. Let’s take a look at some examples of them:

Enrichment centers – Enrichment centers will give students a variety of learning activities to go along with the common unit of learning. This could be building something, designing an observation kit, exploring news articles on topics that affect our world today or painting a mural.

Skill centers – Skill centers, as the name implies, are used after the initial teaching concept is in place. Then, your students can practice the skills they have just used and apply them practically, helping to solidify what they have learned.

These are just some ideas on how to create interest centers for the modern classroom!

5 Halloween Books That Will Thrill and Delight Kids of all ages

By Julieann Samayoa
on November 07, 2018
5 Halloween Books That Will Thrill and Delight Kids of all ages

5 Halloween Books That Thrill and Delight Kids of all ages

If you are celebrating Halloween this year, scare up some excitement with these kid-friendly Halloween books that will thrill and delight kids of all ages. Take a trip to your school or community library to gather a few popular Halloween books. You'll find some not-too-scary picture books, tales about runaway pumpkins, big pumpkins, too many pumpkins, bats, scarecrows, and of all things, and a story about a friendly witch who shares her broom with others.

Here are 5 Thrilling Books to Read Aloud:

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman. With the rhythm and repetition that children love, this book tells a story about a witch who, through her encounter with a ghost, vampire, bat, and mummy, discovers both the value of cooperating and the joy of sharing.  The beautiful paintings make this story come alive for children of all ages.

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White. This is a cute story about Rebecca who has hated pumpkins ever since she was a girl when pumpkins were often the only food her family had. One day an enormous pumpkin falls off a truck and crashed in her yard. Rebecca shovels dirt over the pieces and then forgets about them. But those slimy pumpkin smithereens sprout up in autumn, and Rebecca Estelle finds a new patch of pumpkins in her garden.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson is an excellent book to share with children. This is a not so typical Halloween story is about a witch and a group of animals with good manners who help each other. It's fun to read aloud because of its rhythm and rhyme. Kids love the repetition and the eye-catching illustrations.

Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long is the story about where Otis the tractor lives. The farmer has introduced someone new on the farm---a scarecrow to shoo away the pesky crows. But when Otis and the animals greet the scarecrow with friendly smiles, the scarecrow’s frown never leaves his face. So everyone leaves him alone. A book that shows how the subtle acts of compassion and standing up for others makes everyone feel valued.

The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis is a story about two brothers and their little sister, who spy the biggest pumpkin they've ever seen. First, Buck and Billy 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 perfect story to read aloud in the classroom.

The Runaway Pumpkin is one of my favorite Halloween books to read to the class. During Halloween week, I read a new Halloween-themed book each day. For that week during centers, I set up fun literacy activities related to each book. What a fun way to celebrate and learn about Halloween while also focusing on language arts skills!

Let's take a closer look at the Runaway Pumpkin Unit that includes several activities related to the story.

The Runaway Pumpkin Activities for Kids
  • Character Traits (Granny, and Little Lil)
  • The Setting
  • The Plot
  • The Plot Thickens (sequencing activity)
  • The Problem, Solution, and Theme
  • Find all the Action Verbs
  • Pumpkin Adjectives
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Spotlight on Vocabulary
  • Runaway Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt
  • Pumpkin Poem (compare and contrast the story to the poem)
  • Write your own Personal Narrative Runaway Pumpkin Story
  • Writing Rubric
  • Life Cycle of a Pumpkin Activity
  • Quiz and Answer Key

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

For this activity, you will need several copies of the Runaway Pumpkin book. You could go to the local library or ask other teachers in your building to borrow their copy. Divide the class into groups of 2 to 3 students. Give each student a copy of the book and the "Runaway Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt" activity page. Instruct students to read through the book in order to answer the questions. Ater they have finished, bring the class back together as a whole group to check and correct their answers.

The Life Cycle of a Pumpkin

This unit includes several hands-on activities that students will love. This story leads well into the learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin.

The Life Cycle of a Pumpkin

Comprehension and Literacy Activities

Is your class learning about character traits, setting, author's purpose, or theme? This unit has many of them. Look through the unit and pick out the skills that you want to focus on with this captivating book.  Then prepare each activity or center as described below. Many of these activities work well for reading groups and  centers activities after reading the book.

Character Traits

There are two types of Character Traits: Inside and Outside. Outside traits are ones you can see. Inside traits are part of a person's or character's personality. On the front board, draw a picture of a bat. Underneath the bat, draw a T-Chart labeled Character Traits: Inside and Outside. On a piece of paper, have students create their own T-Chart.  Ask students to describe Lilly Lil. Add the traits the correct category and have the students do the same on their page. For additional or independent practice, have students do the same thing for Granny Baxter.

Character Traits Activities for The Runaway Pumpkin Book

Comparing Poetry to Fiction

Students will enjoy reading this rhyming poem about the life cycle of a pumpkin called From a Tiny Seed. This leads to an activity to compare the poem to the Runaway Pumpkin. Both forms of literature are about the same topic.

Shine a Spotlight on Vocabulary

Every story has some terms that are meant to expand a reader's vocabulary. In this story there are several new words that students might not be familiar with such as foresaw, disaster or cautious. This is a great opportunity to talk about being cautious when they are Trick-or-Treating on Halloween night.

Here are some questions to start the discussion:

  1. What does it mean to be "cautious"?
  2. Name a time when you should be cautious?
  3. Why should you be cautious about Halloween?
  4. When you hear the word "disaster" what comes to mind?

Extension Activities: Write a Personal Narrative

Learning writing is one of the most important skills for kids to learn. Writing personal narratives are a perfect way to encourage your students to write. "Personal" refers to a story from one's life or experiences. Creative writing allows kids to express their feelings and beliefs about a given topic. Giving students writing prompts can make the writing process a little bit easier for them. A rubric is included to make the grading process a breeze!

What a fun way to celebrate and learn about Halloween while also focusing on language arts skills!

Happy Halloween!

8 Stellaluna Activities That Kids Will Love

By Julieann Samayoa
on November 07, 2018
8 Stellaluna Activities That Kids Will Love

Is your class reading about a famous fruit bat named Stellaluna? Stellaluna is one of my favorite books to read to the class in October. For that week during centers, we do several literacy and batty activities that are related to the book. This post shares several activities and a bat fact flaps craft freebie to use in your classroom during bat week or after reading Stellaluna.

 

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