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Hanukkah Game Board Freebie

Looking for a little something to help your kids celebrate Hanukkah. This game can be used in many ways in the classroom!

Hanukkah Game Board Freebie: Want to bring a bit of Hanukkah into your classroom? Download this freebie, which can be used to practice any skill!

Brain research tells us that frequent repetition helps bring information from the short term memory to the long term memory. (Rather than "Practice Makes Perfect", I prefer "Practice Makes Permanent"!)  

Hanukkah Game Board Freebie: Want to bring a bit of Hanukkah into your classroom? Download this freebie, which can be used to practice any skill!

I use board games like this to practice sight words, math facts, sentence fluency, task cards, or any skill that needs practicing! The children just roll one die, but before they can move their place marker that many spaces, they have to perform a task. I sometimes have a selection of cards the children can choose from, and sometimes I have a specific skill for them to practice.  

Just click this link to download your Hanukkah Game Board Freebie!

Hanukkah Game Board Freebie: Want to bring a bit of Hanukkah into your classroom? Download this freebie, which can be used to practice any skill!

Illustrating to Build Reading Skills

Illustrating to Build Reading Skills: Visualization is an important skill for reading and illustrating is one of the best ways I know to encourage visualization. This post has several suggestions for connecting reading skills with illustrating.

Illustrating is a great way to build reading skills!



I often have my students do some illustrating when I want to make sure they really "get" a concept.  

It forces them to visualize what they're learning.  
Brain research tells us that visualizing helps the memory and deepens understanding. 
Brain research also tells us that adding an element of fun helps them remember as well... and don't kids love to draw? 

Add some classical music in the background, and the brain is more activated! 
Want to add a little more assurance that the kids are learning?  
Let them talk about what they're drawing and why!


I have several resources I use with my students that get the kiddos illustrating.

Figurative Language can be very tricky for little ones to learn! It takes a lot of conversation before they are ready to illustrate, but it's important that they "get" these confusing phrases. Once the instruction happens, the illustration really helps them to GET it!



There's this Mini-book about Healthy Habits.  
This resource is the result of much research on health and children. It has 10 pages written in child friendly language.

My own students have been working on this one this week, and have come up with some incredible ideas!


I also have a set of homophones for the children to illustrate.  These can be tricky for most kids, but in order to draw the different meanings, they have to deeply understand the different meanings.  

That involves a lot of conversation as well as thinking, but once they've got it, they've GOT it!  

As children are "social animals", they tend to remember not only their own pair of homophones, but the homophones their friends did as well!

I've got another set of word pairs for illustrating as well... these are homographs!  Just like the homophones, these are tricky, but once they've got them, they've GOT them!

Another advantage to these individual sheets that the children illustrate... they make great visual displays for bulletin boards!  I've had many compliments on the work of my students on these!

They also make awesome class books!


Another advantage?  These are great for the sub tub!  Just run off the set and leave it in the emergency sub folder!  Plus, they work for a variety of ages and levels.  (Fifth graders are NOT too old to draw, they love it!)


Of course, any illustrating is enhanced by music. May I suggest this one?  (Click image for a link to Amazon!)


Acts of Kindness Holiday Countdown

Ever notice that wonderful feeling that comes from doing something for others?  I suspect you know it well, since that's what teaching is all about!

Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!


I decided, instead of just a "Countdown to Christmas", I wanted to do a more special countdown.


I made this Acts of Kindness Holiday Countdown Set, which is a paper chain countdown with a twist - each link of the chain is an act of kindness to be done by the child, each day between now and Christmas!


Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!
First, the children will choose a "topper".  There's a star, a tree, and a Christmas Bear.  The topper is mounted on a piece of construction paper or tagboard, and a slit is cut near the bottom to hold the first link.  Personally, I think this guy is going to need some glitter, and a big red bow at the top to tie him to a special countdown spot!

Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!
The "How Many Days" poem goes on the back.  I think this needs glitter, too!


Next, the children can put the individual strips into a chain, putting just the right amount so that one can be removed per day until Christmas.




Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!
I have to admit, I'm excited about my new product, and can't wait to put them together with the kids!


Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!

Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!





My Favorite Holiday Activity

My Favorite Holiday Activity: Ever have one of those activities that are a "win-win"? It's fun, it's easy, and it's also educational? This is my favorite freebie
Ever have one of those activities that's a win-win?  It's something that works so well, you keep bringing it back year after year.



That's how I feel about this Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.  I've done this activity with second
graders for about 15 years now.




I've always loved the music from The Nutcracker.  When my daughter was 5, I figured she was old enough to go into Boston to see the Boston Ballet perform the classic.  We read a few versions of the story so she'd know what to expect, put on our very best holiday dresses, and drove into the city.



Since I knew the story so well, I brought the CD into school, and shared the story with my students.  I wrote this summary of the classic story, and played the music while the children visualized what it must look like, then illustrated the different parts of the story.



Every year, the children loved the activity, and it practiced some valuable skills:  visualizing, summarizing, and sequencing.  Plus, it gives them some exposure to classic holiday literature and classical music. Of course, you can't miss when the setting is called, The Kingdom of Sweets!



A couple of years after seeing the production in Boston, my daughter had the opportunity to audition for a production of The Nutcracker. She was in the youngest group, and the little ones had a very small part, but it was priceless.  She went on to perform in the Nutcracker 3 years in a row before life just got too busy with other performances.  However, the story of The Nutcracker will always be near and dear to my heart.



Enjoy this freebie: The Nutcracker story for Visualizing, Summarizing, and Illustration!  It's one of my favorites!




Exemplar Texts for the Common Core - Informational Text


Today I'm getting to my favorite category of Exemplar Texts:  The Informational Texts!

The Exemplar Texts are books that are recommended for this level because of the complexity and quality of the texts.  Children in these grades should be reading many books of this complexity and quality, these are just examples.


Here are links to the 12 Informational Texts recommended for grades 2 and 3.
                                
             

I've always found that every class has a core of children who just love information books.  These kids  absolutely love learning stuff, and just can't get enough!

I love all books by Gail Gibbons (and have quite a collection of her stuff!)  She has a great way of explaining information to children in this age group, in a way they can understand.  From Seed to Plant is one of my favorites of her books!

Several of these books are new to me.  I am dying to read Where Do Polar Bears Live and Throw Your Tooth on the Roof:  Tooth Traditions Around the World.  I also think it's interesting that 2 of the 12 books are about Bats.

For more information about the Exemplar Texts for the Common Core at all levels see the Common Core for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/ Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects Appendix B HERE.

Which of these books do you find interesting?  What other books do you know of for grades 2 and 3 that fit this level of complexity and quality?


Don't Be a Turkey!

Don't be a turkey! My students LOVE this turkey themed game for practicing the +9 trick! There's a freebie so you can try it out!
Don't be a turkey! My students LOVE this turkey themed game for practicing the +9 trick! There's a freebie so you can try it out!One of the Common Core Standards for second grade math is:

CCSS.Math.2.OA.2 Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.


I find, once the kids catch onto the tens trick, the nines trick is easy!  I first use a number grid like THIS ONE to show them how easy it is to do "ten more".  From there, it's pretty easy to figure out "nine more".

Don't be a turkey! My students LOVE this turkey themed game for practicing the +9 trick! There's a freebie so you can try it out!

Once they have a good understanding of the 9 more trick, they're ready to play Turkey Nines!  It works like "Old Maid", so they pair off all the addends and sums with nines, and one of your little turkeys will end up being the "Thanksgiving Turkey".
Don't be a turkey! My students LOVE this turkey themed game for practicing the +9 trick! There's a freebie so you can try it out!


This is one of those games that "even the losers are winners" because there's something about cooking a turkey that makes the little ones giggle.  Plus, they're getting better at that mental math!


When they've mastered the plus nines up through 20, there's a more challenging version of the game to work this standard:

CCSS.Math.Content.2.NBT.B.8 Mentally add 10 or 100 to a given number 100–900, and mentally subtract 10 or 100 from a given number 100–900.
Have fun practicing mental math, and don't be a turkey!  (At least, don't be a cooked turkey!)

Here's a little movie about how the game works:







A Couple of Freebies for Veterans Day

Somehow Halloween is over, we have Veterans Day in less than a week!  

I've rounded up a couple of freebies to share with you!

Here's a collection of paper for writing thank you letters to veterans!  After a lesson or two on what veterans are and how they help us, I find letter writing to be a nice way to culminate the activities.



I've noticed my little second graders often confuse the different patriotic holidays, so I made this freebie to help them keep track of President's Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Constitution Day, and Veterans Day. It's really helped them keep track of which holiday is which!



Hope your students end up with a good understanding of Veterans Day!



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