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Hooray for the USA!

We have three patriotic holidays coming up! Yep, that's 3!  We have Memorial Day at the end of May.



We have Flag Day on June 14th. We have Independence Day on July 4th.


I know there are some teachers out there who will be out of school by Memorial Day. My district gets out just a short week before Independence Day. (We've never gone that late! These kids are done NOW!)


But it's a great opportunity to teach our kids something about our country!


I find literature, the arts, and music are a great way for children to learn any subject, especially social studies!  Here are some of the books I use. (Click any image for a link to Amazon!)


Coming to America by Betsy Maestro is a great book to show how most Americans came from other countries.  (I often read this one around St. Patrick's Day, as this holiday celebrates Irish-Americans, and gets conversations started about our ancestry.)
How Many Days to America by Eve Bunting tells the story of people escaping a harsh life and coming to America for freedom.  It's done with Even Bunting's child friendly language, but also touches their hearts, as many of Eve Bunting's stories do.  Although it's subtitled "A Thanksgiving Story,"  it's very appropriate for any day you want to show the children the risks people take to live in America.  It's a great conversation starter to remind children (and ourselves) of the freedoms we have in our country, that people don't have in others.
Speaking of Eve Bunting, The Wall is one of my very favorite books for children. Although I do have trouble getting through this story without tears, it's a nice book to read around Memorial Day or Veterans Day, when we are thinking about those who fight for our freedom, and those that don't come home. (I think this one really gets to me because of the time period... I was "coming of age" during the Vietnam War. Yes, I went to demonstrations and everything, I'm THAT old!)

Here are some informational books that are helpful:

















     
  I always want to remind my students about how beautiful our country is.  Picture books are great to help with that concept!  Here are a couple to help:
     

Here are a couple more books that have loads of fun activities to share and celebrate our country!
     
     
No USA celebration is complete without patriotic music!
This CD has a huge collection of historical USA songs and patriotic songs.  Plus, it has the split track for opportunities for the kids to sing with accompaniment!  
Hooray for the USA! This post has ideas, book suggestions, videos, and a freebie to help you celebrate patriotic holidays in the classroom!    
Here's another collection of classic patriotic songs!  This is nice to have if you want to play a patriotic song in the morning to follow the Pledge of Allegiance.  

Here's a nice You tube video to America the Beautiful.

Of course, after all that learning about America, the children will need to do some writing.  Check out this freebie! Click the image or click here: USA Themed Writing Paper.



Here's a reading activity that can be used for Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or any patriotic holiday: Freedom Isn't Free - About the USA for Active Learners!

Hooray for the USA! This post has ideas, book suggestions, videos, and a freebie to help you celebrate patriotic holidays in the classroom!

Still looking for ideas to celebrate the USA?  Check out this blog post from Memorial Day last year: Memorial Day: A Day to Remember! (There are some freebies in there!)

Hooray for the USA! This post has ideas, book suggestions, videos, and a freebie to help you celebrate patriotic holidays in the classroom!

Want a resource with plenty of ideas for patriotic holidays? Try this bundle with 8 different resources PLUS 8 different freebies: Learning About the USA!

Hooray for the USA! This post has ideas, book suggestions, videos, and a freebie to help you celebrate patriotic holidays in the classroom!



Team Building Activities

I use a whole lot of games in my classroom to practice skills. In order for game playing to be successful in the classroom, children need to be able to stay focused on an activity, take turns, and play fairly. In a second grade classroom, this isn't always the case.

Team Building Activities - This post has several ideas to help children (or adults) work together as a team.


I often start the year with some team building activities, then come back to team building activities at the end of the year. I'm thinking I really need to sprinkle these activities throughout the school year.


Maybe it's because my dad was a football coach, or maybe it's simply because it's important, but I'm often looking for excuses to build teamwork. (My classroom theme this year has been sports!)

I've been looking around the internet for ideas for team building activities, and came up with a few!

HERE is a long list of team building exercises from a place in the UK called Venture Team Building.  I've tried the "Human Knot" and "Minefield". It's fun to watch the "aha" look in the eyes of the kids when they realize the whole team has to go back if someone steps on a minefield. That's when they realize it's not just about them personally!

HERE is another link I found. From this link, there are several more links to specific team building activities such as "Easy Team Building Activities for Kids", "Team Building Activities for Kids That Are Selfish", and "Team Building Activities for Kids to Build Self Esteem".  This one is definitely worth a peek! Most of these are simple things that can be done in the classroom, and fun for the kids.

As with any lesson, it's important to spend time at the end of the lesson "debriefing" and discussing what was learned. 

Still looking for more Team Building? Try these: 60 Team Building Games and Activities for Classrooms.

Do you know any other Team Building activities?



Team Building Activities - This post has several ideas to help children (or adults) work together as a team.


Resources to Celebrate Mexico!

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day. 

Resources to celebrate Mexico: Whether you're celebrating cinco de mayo or just learning about Mexico, you'll find something here for your primary classroom including books, videos, and a freebie!

 (That is celebrated on September 16th.)  Cinco de Mayo does celebrate a Mexican battle.  It dates back to May 5, 1862, and I imagine if I were Mexican, I'd know more about it.  I've shown this video in the past. The content is a little above the heads of my second graders, but it gives the kids a taste Mexican history with a cute sombrero wearing chili character and a catchy tune.


Those of us who live in the USA think of Mexico as our "neighbors to the south." It's also a lovely place to visit when the winter is cold and bitter. (Winter sure gets nasty here in New Hampshire!)


Many of us like to think of Cinco de Mayo as a day to celebrate our Mexican neighbors.


Here's another Youtube video that gives the kids a taste of Mexico. It's filled with Mariachi music and pictures that are classically Mexican!




A couple more You Tube videos that give kids a "taste" of Mexico:






Or... it's not too late to order some of your own Mariachi music. Check out these CDs available on Amazon. 
 
    
Resources to celebrate Mexico: Whether you're celebrating cinco de mayo or just learning about Mexico, you'll find something here for your primary classroom including books, videos, and a freebie!      Resources to celebrate Mexico: Whether you're celebrating cinco de mayo or just learning about Mexico, you'll find something here for your primary classroom including books, videos, and a freebie!
I prefer to have loads of literature when I teach about anything, particularly another country. Here are some of my favorite informational books about Mexico!
 
 
 Resources to celebrate Mexico: Whether you're celebrating cinco de mayo or just learning about Mexico, you'll find something here for your primary classroom including books, videos, and a freebie!Resources to celebrate Mexico: Whether you're celebrating cinco de mayo or just learning about Mexico, you'll find something here for your primary classroom including books, videos, and a freebie! 
Resources to celebrate Mexico: Whether you're celebrating cinco de mayo or just learning about Mexico, you'll find something here for your primary classroom including books, videos, and a freebie! Resources to celebrate Mexico: Whether you're celebrating cinco de mayo or just learning about Mexico, you'll find something here for your primary classroom including books, videos, and a freebie! 
 
Of course, after learning about Mexico through books and videos, I'd have my kids write about the country. Here's some paper with a Mexico theme, and it's free! You can find it here: Mexico Themed Writing Paper Freebie
 
Explore this image to grab this freebie!
 
What good is a celebration of Mexico without a little Mexican food and a craft?  Tortilla chips with salsa are easy and popular, so I imagine they'll make an appearance. If you're daring, bring in some hot salsa!

Here are a couple more Mexico resources your students might enjoy:




Resources to celebrate Mexico: Whether you're celebrating cinco de mayo or just learning about Mexico, you'll find something here for your primary classroom including books, videos, and a freebie!

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