Friday, February 5, 2016

Shh... We Had Fun!

Having fun in school

I have a confession to make. 
I strayed. 
On purpose.
Two days in a row!

Yes, folks, rather than sticking to my assigned programs, I strayed and did activities that I knew the children would enjoy.

Did they still learn? Yes! Honestly, there was more learning going on than the typical textbook learning.

Tuesday was Groundhog Day. I had to change my schedule because of another teacher being absent, so I ran with it!

First, I pulled out these Groundhog information stories and questions from my Science and Social Studies for February set.

reading comprehension

I always try to have some comprehension question that can be answered directly from the text, at least one "word work" question, and one or two "beyond the text" questions. (These are my favorite!)
Since this reading was challenging for some, we first read as a group. After a discussion, I broke the children into pairs, and they re-read, then answered the questions. I love to have them work in pairs, since they have valuable conversations, especially on the "beyond the text" questions!

I told them I'd pay particular attention to question #4. (How would you keep a groundhog from eating things in your garden?) This reflects a problem I had as a gardener: 
The hungry groundhog actually learned to climb the fence I put up!

Their answers were delightful! Although they weren't all realistic, they showed an understanding of the problem, and creativity in their solution! (Plus, almost all kids solved the problem in a non-violent way!)

Once they learned about groundhogs, I had them make groundhog puppets and settings, and they created their own skits for Groundhog Day.
Groundhog Day
This guy put a couple of things to frighten the groundhog: the shadow AND a fox! 

Groundhog Day
The kiddos were so clever when creating their burrows! Some even designed the inside of the burrow on the other side! (In their reading, they learned a lot about the design of the burrows!)

Groundhog Day
As they performed their skits, they showed creativity, a sense of humor, AND knowledge of groundhogs! You can't get this on a computer test!

The next day was Day 100. 

I've had a little tradition going on that I started about 20 years ago. We go from classroom to classroom singing Day 100 songs!

We have 4 songs we sing. Here's one of them:

Day 100
Sorry, the other 3 aren't mine to give you! 
 They kept them in their book boxes and practiced them during reading time. (It was hard to keep them SILENT during independent reading!)

Day 100
It was loads of fun going from class to class. They rarely get to go into the other classrooms, and they got to go into almost ALL the classrooms! They saw younger siblings, older siblings, former teachers, neighborhood friends, and loads of other people they know. The teachers, students, and staff were amazing audiences! They welcomed us into their classrooms, listened to the lyrics, and applauded for the children. 
Day 100

My favorite part is seeing the smiles on the faces of my former students as they remember Day 100 caroling in past years!

Later that day, we played a couple of games and activities, including Mental Math 100. Up until now the children had only worked with 2 digit numbers, but I had them adding and subtracting 3 digit numbers, and with this game, they were even dealing with 4 digit numbers! And, of course, they were successful!

Day 100

It was a huge boost on their mathematics self esteem, and a whole lot of fun!

It's not actually what the manual told me to do, but it was truly a great learning day. 

Hopefully, I can sneak in a few more of these!

Monday, February 1, 2016

February Currently

It's February!

It's time for "Currently"!

Here's what this month is about:
Listening: Big Bang Theory is a favorite of mine, and it's always on, every night! I watch it all the time, since it's somewhat mindless. (I've seen every episode numerous times!) By the end of the day, mindless is what I need!
Loving: We have a week off the last week of February! Boy, do I need that time!
Thinking: I have so many little project I've got in my head, but no time or energy to get going with them! (Vacation!)
Wanting: It's that time of year where everyone is low energy, and no motivation. Plus, I'd really like to pay my bills. (This is a recurring theme on Currently!)
Needing: Yep, the rug totally needs it. If I only had the energy and the motivation!
Swooning: Something that gets me swooning is really good kissing. I'm swooning just thinking about it! 

Looking for more Currentlys? See Farley's blog HERE!
Oh Boy It's Farley

Looking for something to do with your kiddos in February? 
Check it out HERE!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

February Books, Resources, and

Can you believe February is upon us? 
I've got a bunch of ideas to help you get ready!

To start you off, here's a calendar freebie with lots of ideas for fun!
February calendar

Groundhog Day is Tuesday. Will that groundhog see his shadow?
Well, here's a groundhog that can predict the weather! (Click the image for a link to Amazon!)

Here's a Groundhog Day Freebie to practice the Consonant-l-e ending in words! Just click the image!


Here's some more groundhog fun... to practice prefixes and suffixes. Just click the image!
Don't let the groundhog see his shadow

And some Groundhog math fun, with a little "Super Football" math fun as well. Click the image!

February math

Here's another freebie to help you out for this year's Super Bowl!
Carolina vs Denver

Have you had Day 100? Ours will be this Wednesday. Here's a great Day 100 book! (Click image for link to Amazon!)


This is a game that challenges my second graders, and they love it!
Day 100

Here's another Day 100 game for "older" kiddos to practice Compliments of 100!
Day 100

And a Day 100 Freebie for active kids...just click the image!

Guess what else is coming next week... Mardi Gras!No Prep Printables

Valentine's Day is the same week! Here's my VERY favorite book to read for Valentine's Day! This one will warm your heart, and the kids' hearts as well! (Click for a link to Amazon!)

And a Valentine's Day Freebie!

Valentine facts and fun

Here are a few fun books for Presidents Day!

Here's a game to help your kids remember which American holiday is which!
American holidays

Here are plenty of activities for the kids with an American President theme!

Still looking for February Activities? Just click the image below!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ten Ways to Stay Healthy

Fighting Germs

Teaching has many challenges! One of the big challenges is staying healthy! Winter is the worst, since the kids (and teachers) are all cooped up inside breathing the same air and touching the same germs. 

Here are ten things you can do to help fight those germs and help your immune system do what it needs to do!

1. Wash your hands! We all know this is the #1 way to fight germs!

2. Eat healthy! What you put into your body really does make a difference! Of course we can't totally deny ourselves of the "fun" foods, but most of the food you eat should be healthy. In particular, avoid processed foods, they're mostly chemicals and very little nutrition that your body needs to fight germs.

3. Exercise! Exercising helps your body in many ways. Many studies have proved that the same hormones produced while exercising help strengthen the immune system. (Plus, they make you feel happy: bonus!)

4. Get fresh air daily! Yes, more studies have been done on the impact of fresh air on health, and it really does make a difference! Keeping all those kiddos (and teachers) cooped up all day breathing the same air just doesn't seem too healthy, does it?

5. Get enough sleep! One night with insufficient sleep weakens the immune system. We need to keep that immune system strong, since there are germs all around us!

6. Avoid too much screen time! The main reason we need to avoid too much screen time is because it keeps us from doing the things that help us stay healthy! (See the rest of this list!)

7. Cope with stress! Laughter is a great way to cope with stress and help strengthen the immune system. (See THIS post.) Listening to "happy music" will also help melt that stress away! (See THIS post.)

8. Visit the doctor regularly! Keep up with your vaccinations and check ups! (That includes the dentist and gyno for women!)

9. Drink plenty of water! I think we all know the importance of drinking plenty of water! Unfortunately, for teachers, we need to be careful about WHEN we drink the water. I tend to increase my intake when I'm about an hour from a bathroom break. 

10. Strive to be happy! Being happy actually creates chemicals that help build the immune system
Check out THIS blog post for ways to be happy!

If for some reason you are unable to fight those germs, HERE are some tips to help you with Sub Plans!
Sub Plans

Sunday, January 3, 2016

15 Ways to Be Happy

I've done all the typical resolutions. I've done the "lose weight" resolution pretty much every year. I've done the "eat well", "exercise", "get organized", "manage your time better", "stress less", and "be the best you can be" resolutions for each new year. Enough!

These aren't bad resolutions, but I'm planning something a bit different.

My plan? 
I want to be happy. 
Not only me, but I want to bring others along with me!

Honestly, it's quite a challenge for teachers (as well as students) to be happy these days. Our days seem to evolve around test scores, and never about the true needs of the children, which can be heart breaking to those of us who have always wanted the best for children. But I believe it can be done. (Did I mention that I also believe it will get better? I'll never stop believing that!)

As many of you know, I do a lot of reading about the brain and how children learn. Have I mentioned I also have read a lot about what makes people happy?  There's a lot of research out there!

Here are some scientifically researched ways to be happy:

Show Kindness - Evidence shows we can feel happier simply by showing a kindness to others. Try giving a compliment to someone and see how that makes you feel!

Practice Gratitude - I've read a great deal of research on the benefits of gratitude. Take time to think about your blessings.

Cooperate, Don't Compete - How can you help someone else have success? We are NOT in competition with each other!

Happiness is Contagious - If you are happy, it helps those around you to be happy!

Be Positive - Keep a positive mindset. Believe you can be happy!

Know Your Strengths -  Everyone is good at some things. What are your strengths?

Get Enough Sleep - This seems pretty obvious, but if you don't get enough sleep, you'll be miserable in many ways. Although it's not always in our control, do your best to get enough sleep. If necessary, find time for a nap!

Listen to Music - There have been many studies connecting music with our moods. I'm sure you can name a few songs that put you in a good mood immediately when you hear them. 

Have Something to Look Forward To - I've always noticed that I'm in a better mood if I have something I'm looking forward to. It might be a trip, a get together, or even a TV show! Now there's scientific research to back this up!

Laugh - There are plenty of benefits to laughter (See THIS post!) Be sure to take plenty of opportunities to laugh each day!

Meditate -  This can mean many things to many people. Whether it means praying, quiet time, time to reflect, or just "down time", it is needed. With our very busy lives, it's more needed than ever!

Exercise - I'm sure you know all about how exercise produces endorphins. These are the "happy chemicals" that make you feel good. Seriously, don't you feel better after a workout? 

Reduce Stress - Many of the ideas listed in this post will help you reduce stress. We can't make it go away, but we can do our best to control the stress we have. Here are several ways: deep breathing, soft music, meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, laughter, exercise, chewing gum, take a nap, hugging. kissing, or taking part in an outlet like painting, dancing, or writing.

Be With Good People - The companionship of true friends or family can't be replaced. Spend time daily enjoying the company of good people.

Spend Time with An Animal - No one can argue about the joy of a loving animal! Puppies are even used in hospitals for therapy!

These are just a few ways to help yourself (or others) be happy. 

Here's what I made to help my students be happy: 
"Be Happy" Bracelets!  

These bracelets will be free only until January 11, 2016, so grab them while you can!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Currently, 2016

I'm still planning to do a post about plans for 2016, but it's January 1st, which means it's time for Currently with Farley from "Oh Boy Fourth Grade!"
Listening: yes, the Rose Bowl parade is on! Once, about 25 years ago, I vacationed in California and stayed in Pasadena. My friend and I did our morning walk on the same street where this parade takes place. It was a great trip. (Am I giving away my age by telling I exercised on that street 25 years ago?)

Loving: I have been having an amazing vacation. I don't remember feeling this relaxed in a VERY long time. I'm looking at the calendar and starting to get bummed out about having to go back.

Thinking: I need to do laundry, get my nails done, and exercise. I just want to sit here. But I won't.

Wanting: As mentioned above, I don't want this vacation to ever end. I love feeling relaxed and non-stressed.

Needing: I had family for dinner on Christmas day, and haven't even done the laundry from that yet. (We used cloth napkins, and a cloth table cloth that got gravy all over it!) I'm due! 

One Word: Happy! I've done all the "lose weight", "be healthy" and "get organized" resolutions. This year, I choose to be happy. I've always worked to maintain my health and my teaching skills. Now it's about me, really doing the best for me!

Be sure to stop by and see more Currently posts! 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflect on 2015

Happy New Year

It's that time of year! 

It's time to reflect back on 2015, and be proud of the accomplishments. 

It's also time to plan ahead for 2016 and set new goals.

As a blogger, I'll reflect with my top ten blog posts of the year. 

Last February, when the New England winter started to get to the kiddos, I posted THIS  post.
Winter Blues
Add caption
I was thinking a lot about my dad back in March. I posted THIS on what would have been my dad's 97th birthday.
In April, I attended a Memorial Service for one of the best teachers I've ever had. I reflected with THIS post.


Later in April, I celebrated the start of the baseball season with THIS post.
Learning and Baseball

Later in the spring, I featured one of my most popular freebies, and gave some ideas on how to use it in THIS post.
writing ideas
At the end of May, I celebrated an anniversary of something that changed my life with THIS post.

In July, I reflected on how demanding the school day is, and shared some ideas on getting in those subjects that the kids enjoy the most with THIS post.
Science and Social Studies

In August, I started learning a lot  more about S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.A.M. and did THIS post about The Science and Engineering Practices.

S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.A.M.

At Back to School time, I shared THIS post about my Back to School promise.
back to school

In October, I came out with my most popular blog post of 2015, THIS one:

Those are my top ten favorite blog posts of 2015. HERE's one bonus: the links to all of my "Bright Ideas" blog posts for 2015. Enjoy these ideas to help your teaching!
bright ideas round up
My  next blog post will be ideas for 2016!

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