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Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Joys of the Holiday Season

Black Friday, long lines, packed stores, sold-out products....Family memories of the holiday season can get pushed aside by commercialism. Think back to when you were a child and celebrated Christmas holidays. What family memories stand out in your mind? Baking cookies, decorating Christmas trees, and wrapping handmade gifts might come to mind. 

Christmas is a wonderful time to share with students the meaning of giving. However, it's the homemade gifts that mean the most. At my home, our Christmas tree is decorated with ornaments that are either homemade by family members or given by friends. Each conjures a unique memory of its giver. That's what makes Christmas special!

Here are some products students can make and give for Christmas:

Santa's Holiday Headlines  

Christmas Tales to Write and Publish   

Top Ten Christmas Movies (Inferencing and Symbolization)    FREE and FUN!

Santa's North Pole Bingo for Early Learners    (With Symbols Sheets)
Santa Letters: 15 Fill-in-the-Blanks/Cut & Paste Letters (Pre-K-2) 

Silly Santa Saying: Fun Figurative Language Activities

Rudolph's Red Nose: The Facts 

Wacky Wayne's Holiday I-Spy

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Thanksgiving "Thank You"

The rush of the holiday season is upon us! For many teachers, there are not enough
hours in the day to finish what needs to be completed before winter break. It's easy for the holiday spirit to get lost amidst numerous to-do lists. 

Currently, due to economic hardships, financial disputes and natural disasters, many students and their families need assistance. What can be done to help? Donations to relief funds, food drives, and recycling centers can make differences in students' lives. Even the smallest of donations are appreciated. 

Many teachers in the path of Hurricane Sandy lost their teaching materials. Let's help those in need by gathering and sending supplies to local charities, such as the Salvation Army and Red Cross. If readers have specific places to send items, please post addresses in the comments sections. 

A huge "Thank You!" to those of you who have made my blog and TpT year a success!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Need some Thanksgiving ideas and products?

Thanksgiving Writing Prompts
I'm Thankful For...Thanksgiving Mobiles
Thanksgiving Thank You Cards in English and Spanish
Talkin' Turkey Times A Thanksgiving Newspaper Writing Activity
My Thanksgiving Tale Activities to Write and Publish
Thanksgiving Coloring Sheets
Wacky Wayne's Fall I-Spy


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Happy Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner! Are your lesson plans full of tricks and treats? Whether celebrating the holiday with discretion or fanfare, here are some fun activities to engage students:

Eerie Writing Prompts
Let's Write A Scary Story: A Group Writing Activity
Halloween Coloring Sheets
Wacky Wayne's Holiday I-Spy for Grades Pre-k-1

Don't forget--it's National Handicap Month! Here's some great activities...National Handicap Month Coloring Activities

Know a person who has overcome disabilities to meet their goals? Share your memorable stories with your students.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Fall!

There's briskness in the air, squirrels are hiding nuts, and sweaters are making appearances. There's so much to do during the fall months! There's Autumn carnivals, fall break, football games, homecoming, marching band practices, and not to mention the "big" holidays, like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas (I'll leave those for monthly topics)...Whew! The long list leaves teachers little time to prepare lesson plans, as well as few spare minutes for rest and relaxation. 

There are lots of educational activities that incorporate fall holidays. Below are some products that are easy to implement, very engaging, hands-on/interactive, and educational. Try a pre-made, fall lesson that engages students in learning:

Top Ten Kids Movies  
         Uncover the answers through pictures and puzzles--great fun for all ages!

    Good Deed Award  

         Reward students for their positive actions.

    Sidewalk Characters: A Novel Study of Characters
        Go outdoors for this fun, novel activity that builds characters from   textual proof (Common Core).

     Helpful Tips for Standardized Essay Testing
         Need help explaining how the test is set up and scored? Then this writing review is for you!

     Homecoming Activities Packet for Pre-k-6th Grades
          Lots of coloring and writing activities to get students excited about homecoming.

     Chain Stories: 15 Non-Fictional and Fictional Collaborative Writing Stories
          Students will enjoy doing write-arounds by adding sentences to stories.

Take advantage of the many hands-on, free lessons that engage students in fall activities, and have some fun!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back to School

The first day of school can cause jitters in
 parents, students, and teachers, so here are some tips to help ease back-to-school anxieties:

 For Parents: 
 1. Set the alarm clock twenty minutes early to anticipate first day problems.
 2. Make a checklist several days before so school items are not forgotten. 
 3. Plan a special breakfast for the special day. 
 4. Dress nicely--it affects children's attitudes and boosts confidences. 
 5. Know your role--elementary students may need parental help but middle school and high school students prefer the assistance of peers. 

For Students:
1. Pack supply items two days beforehand then review your mental checklist. 
2. Choose and lay clothing out the night before the big day. 
3. Pick up and review your class schedule before school begins. 
4. Make plans ahead of time for afterschool transportation. 
5. Keep a "Contact List" in case of emergencies. 

For Teachers: 
1. Establish firm classroom rules with students' inputs. 
2. Make note of pre-established student cliques and friendships. 
3. Give a brief overview of what skills will be mastered during the year. 
4. Establish a routine for students to follow, and stick to it. 
5. Smile! Even on a bad day, a smile can make everyone, including you, feel better. 

Remember, the first day of school is stressful for all involved, so be prepared, and enjoy your first day of school!

Back to School Items:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jumpin' July

The dog days of summer have hit, and children are bored at home. How can you keep kids busy while reinforcing learning at the same time? There are many free activities to be enjoyed within every city or town. Here are a few favorites: 

1. Try your local library for free story times. Also, most libraries host movie days and offer DVD collections that can be rented. 

2. Check with the area's Chamber of Commerce or visitors' center for free tours  or historical walks. Ask for compiled lists of local children's activities to save time. 

3. Local colleges and schools often need students for clinical labs. Soon-to-be teachers are required to work with students as part of their coursework loads, so they practice lesson writings in math concepts, readings skills, etc... It's a great way for students to get free tutoring in specific subjects. Check with the Education Department at universities or the public relations office of schools to find places that participate in such programs.  

4. Most museums and zoos offer "FREE" days, but expect large crowds! To save more money, bring picnic lunches, snacks, and water in plastic bottles, which can be refilled free of charge. Want to miss the crowds? Look for savings coupons on companies' related websites or check with credit unions, Chamber of Commerce sites, and visitors' centers. Many amusement and water parks offer reduced tickets after specific times in the evenings. 

5. Most local radio stations give away prize packages, so keep older kids busy by having them call in to win! Throw some math in the mix and have them uncover their odds of winning.  

6. National and state parks give free educational seminars and offer free books. Many have summer camps which are low-cost or very affordable. If the fees are out of range, ask if scholarships or sponsorships are available. 

Summer doesn't have to be dull, and fun doesn't have to expensive! 

Other fun summer activities:

The Movie of...A Narrative Writing Using the Five Elements of Story   

The Fourth of July: 24 Fun, Interactive Activities

Visual Writing Activity for Lower Elementary Grades

Playing with Palindromes

Friday, June 1, 2012

Free Sizzlin' Summer Fun

Summer fun doesn't have to cost a penny! With internet access, virtual trips are easy and educational. Click here or here for cummulative sites that take the guess work out of finding virtual field trips. How about a science related field trip from Nasa? With an election year in full swing, visit the White House through a virtual tour. Whether looking for virtual field trips of museums or national parks, there are so many wonderful places to visit through the world wide web. 

Two sites that encourage summer learning, as well as fun, are Storyline Online and Starfall. Storyline Online uses actors and acresses from the Screen Guild to read childrens' stories, and illustrations look just as wonderful on-screen! The site also has correlating activities. Starfall is a favorite of many children, parents, and teachers because it uses games to reinforce reading and writing skills. Both are excellent sites for ESL/ELL, also. 

Keep students minds busy and travel the world with some free sizzlin' summer fun websites!

Need Father's Day Activities? Click Here for coloring, writing, and more personalized keepsakes for grades pre-k and up...

How about an end-of-year game with palindromes? Playing with Palindromes with visual and interactivie for grades 3 and up...

Monday, April 30, 2012

May Brings Thoughts of College

The countdown for the end of school is on! "How many more Mondays?" can be heard in the hallways. As graduation looms for some older students, they are thinking about their futures. If you have students who are preparing for college entrance exams, choosing majors (Free PowerPoint with Activities), or looking for the perfect college, then try the below activites:


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Springing into Spring

Spring: Time for renewal and rejuvenation! Flowers are blooming, and students' daydream about outdoor fun and afterschool activities. Long days and warm sunshine entices students to put down their books and enjoy spring days. 

Here are some educational and fun lesson plans to take learning outdoors:    

Sidewalk Character Sketches:
Head outdoors so students can create chalk outlines of novel characters. Fill shapes with supporting quotes from texts then see if classmates can figure out characters' identities.

Pick a nice day and try an outdoor descriptive writing assignment:

How about a prepositional walk around your school's campus?

Get ready for Easter with these products:

Easter Fun Coloring Sheets
Easter Story Starters 
My Bunny Story

Friday, March 30, 2012

Antsy April

As a kid, remember being in classrooms in April? It was almost May, and school was almost out. My mind was on summer break and having fun. Yet, as a student then later as a teacher, testing loomed overhead like a black storm cloud. As birds chirped outside school windows, my mind floated to warm days where I sat anywhere but in the classroom. 

Finding interesting projects that engage learners can be difficult. It's the time of year to take students outdoors for activities. Try Sidewalk Characters if reading novels:

1. To make these, have students (individually or in groups) choose one favorite character from a novel.
2. Make a list of the novels being used on a sheet of paper (you can Xerox this ahead of time).
3. Give each individual or group a number.
4. . Find ten quotes from the novel that define the character's physical features and traits.
5. Go outdoors where plenty of sidewalk space exists.
6. Have one student lay on the sidewalk while others trace a body outline. Bring full aprons to put on students if desired.
7. Fill in the body outline with physical features. ie. How do you think the character looks based on evidence from the novel?
8. Write quotes from the book inside and outside of the traced body outlines. 
9. When finished, place your given number above the body. 
10. Hand individuals or groups a sheet of paper with numbers listed.
11. Find the right title for as many novels as possible on the numbers sheet.

For more fun and engaging, interactive, outdoor ideas, see:
Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March Madness

With the spring winds come March Madness! Students and teachers are getting ready for standardized testing, but it's Spring Break that is on the minds of many. How can you keep students engaged in learning when their minds are elsewhere? Active learning strategies!

Want an activity to keep kids focused? Try comic book writing. Although this lesson plan was often left for the last project of the year, it works well at any time. The PowerPoint comes with full reproducible handouts, guide, technology links, examples, and so much more! It's a sure fire hit with students and teachers!  Comic Book Writing gives students opportunities to showcase talents, and it gives teachers time to focus on paperwork or one-on-one tutorials. 

How about having students write narrative movies of their lives? Have you ever wondered who might star in the leading role if a movie was made of your life? Who would design fashions? Create music? Run the lights? What's the plot line? Give kids the handouts of The Movie of...Narrative Writing Using the Five Elements of Story and let them plan the movies of their lives. 

Another great way to keep students active and learning is with word puzzles. Try themed puzzles, such as St. Patrick's Day Word Puzzles that include thematic vocabulary for a crossword, word search, and more...

March Madness brings renewal and thoughts of spring, so get students engaged in learning with varieties of active learning lesson plans!

Happy Spring!

Monday, January 9, 2012

    Getting Ready for Assessment

Are you ready to get in gear for assessment time? How can you help ease the stress of standardized testing? These tips will help you and your students uncover unique ways to foster learning while having fun:

Try new motivating activities with How to Engage and Entertain Students .  Insert some active-learning, ready-to-go motivators into your lesson plans.

 Have some fun! Let students create their own comic books with Comic Book Writing! Easy-to-follow and use lesson with handouts, etc... All you need to produce great comics! Excellent for any subject...

Get relaxed with song writing and Let's All Sing the Blues: Writing SCAT . This inter-active presentation incorporates writing with music and gets students up and moving! They won't even know they are learning...  

Insert some Martin Luther King, Jr. activities into your lesson plans to help students learn key words and phrases from the civil rights leader at M.L, King Jr. Word Puzzles

Learning comes in all shapes and forms, but it should be done in relaxed, positive atmospheres to produce the best results. Let students kick off their shoes, find comfortable spots on rugs, and enjoy the discoveries of learning!