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Seven Ways to Brain Fitness for Kids!

Seven Ways to Brain Fitness for Kids! Keeping the brain in good shape is essential, and here are seven ways to do just that!

The Brain is the most important organ in the body, isn't it?
I've been fascinated by the brain. 
I read all I can about how the brain learns, and how to take care of your brain. 

Of course I share information about the brain with my students!

Here are some ways I teach the kids to keep their brains fit:

1. Exercise!  Get the oxygen to the brain!  We often do exercises and brain breaks in the classroom. (I'm sure you've heard of Go Noodle! If not, go straight to this link for FREE brain breaks that the kiddos LOVE!)

 2. Eat Brain Food!  I bring in some healthy snacks for the kids. My school encourages healthy snacks, but once in a while I'll bring in my own! (Usually not fish or spinach, but often some carrots and berries!)

3. Ease stress!  These kids certainly understand what stress it!  We sometimes do some Yoga moves and breathing exercises, and sometimes they just have quiet time where they think about nothing! Research proves we need to give them time to clear the brain in order for the brain to take in new information.

4. Listen to Music!  I've got a wide variety of music to play in the classroom, from "party" music, to mellow music for concentration. It doesn't have to be classical music! 

5. Laugh! I recently posted Laughter is Truly the Best Medicine, and  listed some of the benefits of humor in the classroom.  I have a whole box of joke books that I often bring out on April Fool's day, although they are good any time of year. 

6. Drink water!  Water is essential for brain function!

7. Keep challenging your brain!  I'll have a variety of puzzles and riddles for the children to choose from.  I'm a big fan of Sudoku, so I often have a few of those for the kids.  I also found a couple of cool websites: ABCya Tangram Puzzles has  tangrams that can be done at the computer.  Puzzle Choice has tons of puzzles for kids and adults- go to Kid's Choice for lots of possibilities for printing as well as puzzles for the computer.  

Opinion Writing Organizational Freebie

 Kids have opinions, and they're actually pretty good at sharing these opinions, giving reasons for their opinions, and sometimes even getting their way! 

They need help getting these opinions written down in an organized manner. I have this freebie to help them out with this!

I made up THIS graphic organizer, along with a couple of samples.  There are a million topics they can use to share their opinions, such as "favorite color, brothers: good or bad, favorite after school activity, to name a few.

I always believe that children need to talk before they write, so I'd share my samples, and enhance each time to make the story more interesting.

Election Day - Child Style

I have mixed feelings about teaching Election Day with my students.  Of course, Election Day is an important day in our country.  We are choosing our leaders.  My little second graders certainly won't "get" the Electoral College process, but they do need to understand how an election works.

However, I'm sure you'll agree, this year's election is out of control.  The ads on TV are nasty and misleading.  People are very passionate about this election, and most feel quite strongly for their own candidate and against the other candidate.  There is a lot of anger.  I just don't want to go there with the children. (I don't want to see a fight break out in my classroom!  Kids tend to be as passionate as their parents about presidential candidates!)

My plan is to do some election day activities without getting into detail about any of the specific candidates. I've made the above freebie to practice common and proper nouns.  It has an election day theme, but never mentions the candidates.

Another idea is to have the children vote for something on a child level on November 6th.  I thought I might have the children vote for their favorite subject in school, or maybe their favorite lunch.  It's a good excuse to do some Opinion Writing (CCSS.2.W.1: Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g. because, and also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.)  This standard is close to the same for all grades... it just goes into more depth as the children get older.

Here in New Hampshire, we have another way for the children to understand the election process... and it's at their level, and doesn't upset anyone!  All students in grades K - 3 in New Hampshire vote for their favorite book of 10 books nominated for the New Hampshire Picture Book Ladybug Award.  The books have already been nominated, and will be voted on in the month of November by New Hampshire school children.

The nominating process, as described by the Ladybug Award website:  The Ladybug Picture Book Award is designed to promote early literacy and honor the best in recent children's picture books. A committee of children's librarians from around the state selects 10 picture book titles early in the year. Then, during November, New Hampshire children from preschoolers to those in third grade choose the award winner. The winning picture book is announced at the end of the year. The author and illustrator of the winning book will receive a crystal award created by Pepi Herrmann Crystal.
To be considered for nomination, a picture book must meet the following criteria:
  • be published within the last three years
  • be in print
  • have an author and illustrator from the U.S.
  • possess strong child appeal
  • have artistic quality with text that supports the illustrations
  • not be a title previously nominated
They even have a facebook page!  I've been through this process for several years now, and it gives the children a fabulous taste of what it's like to make an informed choice.  They listen to all the stories, keep track their ideas, and make a decision on their own.  Plus, the books are always quality literature!
Freebie Fridays

It sounds like another good excuse for opinion writing!

Exemplar Texts for the Common Core - Stories

Did you realize there are several Appendixes to the Common Core State Standards?  The English-Language Arts areas have 3 Appendixes! Appendix A contains Research and a Glossary. Appendix B contains Exemplar Texts and Sample Performance Tasks. Appendix C contains samples of student writing. The one Math Appendix contains information about high school math courses.

I've been focused on Appendix B and the Exemplar texts.

A few weeks ago I did a post about Exemplar Read Aloud Texts for the Common Core.

I thought I'd do a post about the other Exemplar texts... the ones that are recommended for the children to read on their own.

The Common Core breaks Literature into Three Categories:  Stories, Poems, and Informational Texts. Here are the recommended Exemplar Texts for grades 2 and 3. Click on the image to read more about each book at Amazon.

If you're familiar with these texts, you'll notice there's quite a variety of reading levels as well as content, but they all have one thing in common:  they're great stories. My favorite story as a child is here (My Father's Dragon) and one of my favorite stories that has been published more recently is also here (Tops and Bottoms).

For lists of Exemplar texts for other levels and other categories, click HERE.

I guess that's why they got the title "Exemplar Texts"!  What other stories for this age group would you recommend?
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