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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.

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?

Turning an Earthquake into Learning

We had an earthquake here in New Hampshire tonight!  I know we've had plenty of tremors in this part of the world, but this was a 4.5!  We don't typically experience this stuff!


I have a funny feeling the kids are going to want to talk about the earthquake tomorrow! I'm thinking perhaps I should try to find a way to make it work for me!

I think it might be a good opportunity to share some Informational Texts!  I might be able to round up a few of the books I've found on Amazon.  (I really like the looks of the the Let's Read and Find Out Science book above!)  I also know I have the Magic Tree House book (Earthquake in the Early Morning) and luckily, I don't have a chapter book going right now!

I also think this is a great opportunity to work on writing narratives, specifically, this Common Core Standard: W.2.3.  Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, including details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order and provide a sense of closure.


I've always find that in order for children to write a narrative, they need to be able to tell a narrative.  Telling the story first helps the child get his/ her thought organized in order to sit down and write the story. I've also found that graphic organizers help the children get their thoughts ready for telling the story.

Here's my plan:
  1. After talking about their experiences, I will model using the graphic organizer to record the main events of my own experience.
  2. Then I will model how to use the graphic organizer to guide the retelling of my experience in an organized fashion.  As I tell my story, I will make it clear how I was feeling during the experience, as I know the brain connects to feelings.
  3. I will have the children fill in a word or two (or a picture) for the graphic organizer, indicating the order of events for their experience.  
  4. Children will share, using the organizer as a guide, with 2 or 3 different partners.
  5. After retelling their stories a few times, the children are now ready to sit down and write their recount of the earthquake.
I'll be sure to mention my cat, Mia.  As most children, they love animals, and always enjoy hearing about my fuzzy cat, Mia.  She stayed in hiding for a couple of hours after the earthquake!  I think I'll make that my closure... that will leave an impression on them!

Exciting News!

Tips for Top Teachers: A Smorgasboard of Teaching ResourcesThere's a brand new collaborative blog in our teacher blog world!  It's called Tips for Top Teachers.  There are 100 fantastic contributors, and I'm one of them!  We will be posting teacher hints, resources, freebies, and products.  I'm thrilled about this, since it's such an honor to be in the company of so many high quality bloggers.  Be sure to stop by, follow, link up to the follower pages, and enjoy reading a wealth of teacher information!

Golfing for Tens

Thursday I had 3 doctor's appointments.  Not 1, not 2, but 3. (I'm fine, just happened to schedule them on the same day!)  I also went to the dentist on Tuesday and had my flu shot on Wednesday, so I should be all set for a while!

Since 2 of the 3 doctors are a half hour away, I was looking to fill time between appointments, so I went into the local dollar store.

I'm always looking for cute ideas for school in the dollar store.  I'm either looking for organizational ideas or game ideas.  As I was browsing through the toy section, I saw the perfect game for my sports themed classroom:  golf sets!
I was planning the math game I was going to make while standing in line to make my purchase.  (Do all teachers do this sort of thing when they take a day for doctors appointments?)

We've been working with addition of single digit numbers in our new math pilot program:  enVisions.  The math part was so easy, I wanted to bump it up to adding tens.  I figured they could work in teams, working on adding tens.  I set up 3 lines, each a foot apart, and decided they could and take a few shots from different level.

As you might have guessed, the kids loved it!  They were even good about working quietly while the other groups did their "sitting down" work, which is not easy for adults, never mind second graders!  However, they knew they'd lose the privilege, so they worked hard to golf quietly!

The only problem?  Those plastic golf balls were so light, the kids had trouble aiming them.  Therefore, hardly any balls went into the cup, so they didn't get much practicing adding up points.  I'm going to bring in real golf balls tomorrow, and I'm sure the extra weight will help them have more real "adding tens" practice.  In the meantime, it was a great lesson in adding zeroes, and the kids really enjoyed it!

Click the picture for your "golfing for tens" freebie.  I'm sure they have the golf sets in the toy section of most dollar stores!  (Did I mention that this game supports CCSS 2.NBT.5?)
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