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When Fun Is Allowed

Yesterday, I read an article, Solutions When Recess and Play Aren’t Allowed from The Cornerstone Blog.  It was about children going without recess and play time.  Interestingly enough, yesterday was the day for our class Halloween Parties. (Yes, we're still allowed to have them!) 

Since it was an exciting day, as well as the first snow here in New England, I knew the kids would be wild.

Of course, I've been teaching a long time, and I know just how to handle kids the day of a party:  you convince them they have to earn the party!

All day long, they'd talk about the party... how much longer?  Where will we have the party?  What will we do?

Every time I saw something non-educational, I'd remind them they had to EARN the party.  They pulled themselves together and gave me their very best!

Every single child completed their written math work on time for the first time this year.

I went out of my way to make sure the party was worth working for.  We had healthy food, games, music, and lots of laughter.  Lots of happy children!

I was thinking back to the article I read before school from The Cornerstone.  In the article, they managed to squeeze in recess time while increasing test scores.  Those who know brain research know that the brain needs oxygen to function.  Exercise helps that oxygen get to the brain.  And we also know that fun is a much greater motivator than test scores!

I was thinking, I wish we had a party every day!  It certainly has a lot of power!

Favorite Read Alouds

I just can't resist a good "linky party", and reading to my students is my very favorite thing to do as a teacher.  So when Swimming Into Second was sponsoring a  Favorite Read Aloud Linky Party, I couldn't resist.
The hard part was deciding on the Read Aloud.  I've read so many wonderful books to my students over the years, how could I possibly decide on just one.  Well, I hope no one minds, but I'm picking a few.

Jubal's Wish by Audrey Wood is a beautiful story about a frog named Jubal who goes looking for a picnic with friends on a beautiful day.  It has beautiful, vivid pictures by Don Wood, and a story line that will grab your heart and leave you feeling positive for the rest of the day.  It's one I could read over and over, and you can hear a pin drop when the children are listening to this one!

Who doesn't love a Patricia Polacco story?  For the Love of Autumn is about a lovable kitten named Autumn, and her owner, a young schoolteacher named Danielle, who loves her students almost as much as she loves her pet.  Clearly Patricia Polacco has had cats, her descriptions are perfect!  It's a charming story, and another one where the faces of the children listening are priceless.
I always read Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli around Valentine's Day, since the story is focused on Mr. Hatch accidentally getting a box of candy on Valentine's Day.  When he thinks someone loves him, timid Mr. Hatch comes out of his shell and becomes quite lovable. This heartwarming story has a nice lesson for children about earning friendships, and usually leaves me a little "sniffly" when I'm done reading.  Don't wait until Valentine's Day to read it!

Oh, I could go on forever, there are so many good ones. Be sure to head on over to Swimming Into Second's Linky Party to see some more great read alouds!

Who Was Christopher Columbus?

Who Was Christopher Columbus: Here's a little information and some suggestions for resources and video to teach the children why we have this day off!
We have a day off tomorrow, thanks to Christopher Columbus, but with everything we have to do at school, it's been tough to find the time to even tell the kids about him. 

I just can't go through October 12th without mentioning this explorer, so I made up a little booklet about him. Feel free to download this booklet on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I also show a video.  Here are a few I found on You tube:

They give a bit of kid-friendly information.  The cartoon is a little corny, and dated, but cute.

I also add a little of what I've learned about the how the brain remembers.  I have the children act out the Voyage of Columbus.  I put some children the Nina, the Pinta, ad the Santa Maria. Then we set sail, waving goodbye to our loved ones. Naturally, the seas will get a little rough.  Some of the sailors might even get seasick!  Kids do remember when they hear what the sailors had to eat for those 90 days, especially when they hear the sailors drank beer instead of water!  And boy, do they remember the sailors went that long without showers or flushing toilets!

With second graders, I typically teach the basics of Columbus' impact on history and exploration, but I don't go into much about the controversy of how he treated the natives. I think this book gives a nice introduction to this controversy, but not too much for the little ones. But it definitely gets them thinking! Click the image for a link to Amazon.

How are you celebrating Christopher Columbus and our day off?
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