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Relax and Read!

For most of us, one of our goals as teachers is to instill a love of reading. I find much of that is in the way it's presented! I never tell my students they "have to" read. I never, ever let it sound like a chore. I tell them it's time to...
 
Relax and Read: Here's a simple suggestion that could help your students learn to love reading. It's all in the approach!

Independent Reading time in my classroom is pretty special. I have a collection of pillows that I ONLY allow to be used during independent reading time.
Relax and Read: Here's a simple suggestion that could help your students learn to love reading. It's all in the approach!

Plus, I make sure there are plenty of good books available for the kiddos. They typically go to the school library once a week, and I have loads of great books in the classroom as well.

Although I typically insist on their reading "Just Right Books", I make an exception on Fridays... they can read an "Easy Sneezy" book. Who doesn't love revisiting an old friend? This is the "summer beach read" for the kids.
Relax and Read: Here's a simple suggestion that could help your students learn to love reading. It's all in the approach!

One more thing I do to instill a love of reading: model a love of reading!

Much of this comes from my read alouds, which is my favorite part of the day! Read alouds are a great time to model many reading skills, but modeling that love of reading is at the top of the list.

I choose books for my read alouds that are worthy of loving... books I've loved in the past, books I know children enjoy, topics I know the children enjoy, and authors we love. 

I've actually been known to pick up a book and caress the cover.  Ok, maybe it's a little bit of overacting, but it really isn't. 

I really do love these books!


And I make sure the kids know it!


Hope you find some time to Relax and Read!

Relax and Read: Here's a simple suggestion that could help your students learn to love reading. It's all in the approach!

Lessons From A Bus Driver

A long time ago, long before I started working where I am now, I substituted.
 
 
Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!
 
One day when I was subbing in a third grade classroom, I had a very interesting conversation with one of the children.

The classroom was situated right near the driveway, so the children could see the buses drive up at the end of the day.

Here was the conversation:

Boy: Yes!!! The good bus driver is back!
Me: That's great! What makes him such a good bus driver?
Boy: Well one day after I'd been out sick for a few days, when I came back, he asked me if I was feeling better.


I've thought about that conversation many times. 


Clearly, the boy liked that bus driver because the bus driver paid special attention to the boy. The bus driver showed an interest.

That's all it takes!




Since that day, I've made an extra effort to let the children know I am interested in what they do. I find ways to let them know I'm glad they came to school that day. I think it makes a difference to say things like: 

Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!

Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!

After an absence:
Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!

One of my favorites:
Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!

The more you make your students feel welcome, the more they will want to perform! 

No matter how I say it, I make sure I am there for my students, making sure they know they are an important member of my class, and give them each a special greeting as they enter my classroom each day!

What are your favorite greetings?



Lessons From a Bus Driver: Here's a little lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my teaching career that helped me understand something that was really important about teaching!


Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues

The Winter Blues
A medical diagnosis might be Seasonal Affective Disorder.
 
Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!
 
I am not a medical professional, but I have seen these symptoms in many of my students:

  • change of moods
  • increased crying
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • lack of motivation
  • feeling sluggish or agitated
  • problems getting along with others
  • changes in appetite

Honestly, with the incredible amount of snow here in the northeast, we've been stuck inside way too much, and it's not just the kids struggling with these symptoms!

As I'm sure you know, teaching can be tough under normal conditions. 

 

It's even tougher when the kids just want to nap at their desks!

But what can we do about it? 


Here are a few things I've tried:

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!
1. Exercise!  Get those kids out of their seats and moving! They may not feel like getting up at all, but that's a sign they really need to!  It's important to do some exercises that will get their blood pumping, like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or Go Noodle! (If you haven't discovered Go Noodle, it's time to check it out! It's free, and the kids love these Brain Breaks!)
GoNoodle Inspiration Blog


Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

2. Rest and Relaxation! They need some quiet time, too! There are yoga moves that are perfect for kids, and simplified forms of meditation. (Many studies show the need for meditation!) In my classroom we have "silent seconds". That's when the kids sit with their hands on their knees, trying to clear their minds of all the clutter. They love it, and seriously need to clear their minds. (We all do!) Another form of relaxation? Bring out the water colorpaints! They are suddenly VERY quiet when those come out!

Here are some book ideas if you want to find out more about yoga with kids!


        

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

3. Happy Music! There is much research that proves music affects our moods. When the children are acting tired and dragging themselves around, it's time to put on some happy music! It's OK to let them dance! HERE is a post I did years ago that has several suggestions for Happy Music for the classroom. HERE is another link to a post that gives suggestions for a variety of kinds of music, and when to use it in the classroom. 

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

4. Get Outside! I realize sometimes this isn't possible, but it's important for those kids to breathe fresh air and get away from the stale air in the classroom. Plus, they need that Vitamin D from the sun! (Did you realize many symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency are similar to those of seasonal affective disorder?) What learning activities can be done in the snow? Measuring? Science? I'm sure you can come up with something!

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

5. Shake it Up! Kids need to look at things differently. This can be as simple as rearranging the furniture or having a backwards schedule day. It might mean changing the routine or doing something totally different one day. It's amazing how one crazy day can put them in a better mood. Plus, when they get back to the routine, they appreciate it more!
Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

6. Plan Something Special! Kids (and adults) need something to look forward to. It gives them motivation. Luckily, February has plenty of opportunities for special activities! We're planning a Valentine's Day party, and I'll go out of my way to make it super fun. They need it! We also have Day 100 (which will be whenever we get back to school after this recent snowstorm!), Presidents Day, Mardi Gras, and Chinese New Year. (Which brings me back to #2: rest and relaxation!) But with the winter we've had, I may have to bring back something I haven't done in years:
 

Virtual Trip to Mexico!

Yes, we actually go on a virtual trip to Mexico. We get in our virtual airplane, put on our seat belts and fly to Mexico. We get out of our seats, and exit the plane to the warmth of the Mexican beaches. We bring our beach towels, have tortilla chips and salsa while enjoying our books. We see virtual animals and feel the virtual warm breeze.  I might even sneak in some mapping skills and a handful of Spanish words to keep it interesting.

Of course, I might have to bring out some resources like this one: 


or this one


or perhaps this one:
Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!



We CAN get past this winter!

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!


Science and Social Studies for February

Do you find it difficult to fit everything in?

Science and Social Studies for February: This resource helps you find time for Science and Social Studies by including Groundhog Day, hibernating animals, Valentines Day, Super Bowl, and Presidents Day into "easy to prepare" lessons!

I sure do! The toughest things to fit in are Science and Social Studies.

Once we're done with reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, grammar, and math, there's no time left for these two subjects! 

The really sad part is that these are typically the most popular subjects, and the ones where everyone can have success!

I've been working at making it easier to squeeze these fun subjects in, and came up with this: Science and Social Studies Activities for February

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Science-and-Social-Studies-Activities-for-February-1671074?utm_source=blog%20post%20S%20SS%20FEbruary&utm_campaign=S%20and%20SS%20Feb
 
It's got printables to make your life easier, yet it still provides learning opportunities in Science and Social Studies, along with February themes and engaged children!

For Super Bowl Sunday, it's got a science exploration that includes rolling balls down a ramp, predictions and revisions.

Science and Social Studies for February: This resource helps you find time for Science and Social Studies by including Groundhog Day, hibernating animals, Valentines Day, Super Bowl, and Presidents Day into "easy to prepare" lessons!

For Groundhog Day, there's a nonfiction science text and questions about groundhogs, and a "hibernating animal" classification.
 
Science and Social Studies for February: This resource helps you find time for Science and Social Studies by including Groundhog Day, hibernating animals, Valentines Day, Super Bowl, and Presidents Day into "easy to prepare" lessons!

For Valentine's Day, there's a fact sheet about the heart, and an exploration on exercise and heart rate.

Science and Social Studies for February: This resource helps you find time for Science and Social Studies by including Groundhog Day, hibernating animals, Valentines Day, Super Bowl, and Presidents Day into "easy to prepare" lessons!

For Presidents Day, there's a nonfiction text and questions about Abraham Lincoln, a timeline on Abraham Lincoln's life, and a mapping activity identifying states in which presidents were born.

Science and Social Studies for February: This resource helps you find time for Science and Social Studies by including Groundhog Day, hibernating animals, Valentines Day, Super Bowl, and Presidents Day into "easy to prepare" lessons!

I hope this makes your life easier, and a little more fun for your kiddos! You can see this product here: Science and Social Studies Activities for February.
 

I hope this makes your teaching life a bit easier!


Science and Social Studies for February: This resource helps you find time for Science and Social Studies by including Groundhog Day, hibernating animals, Valentines Day, Super Bowl, and Presidents Day into "easy to prepare" lessons!

Give 'em a Shout Out!

Do you have kids that do things well, and deserve attention for it? 

Do you have things you're looking for in the kids' work, that you want to emphasize?

Do you want to draw attention to clever ideas?

Looking for ideas to give feedback to students?
 
Give 'em a Shout Out! This post gives suggestions on how to draw attention to those little things that kids do right, and deserve attention for it!
 
This post is about giving "Shout Outs" when the students have a success!

At the end of my Morning Meeting, I take a few minutes to give "Shout Outs" to individual students. I've been doing this for years, and the kiddos love it!

I usually have some paperwork the children have done, and I'll draw attention to something specific that child did that I'm hoping more kids will do. Some examples: showing their work in Math, extra effort, good handwriting, using complete sentences to answer questions, or just great answers to questions. Sometimes I'll just read a list of names of kids I noticed were working hard on their own.

My kids tend to be hams (just like their teacher) and are encouraged to take a bow when they're announced. The other kids cheer and applaud. (I'll bet you know plenty of kids who deserve applause!)


After I've given a "Shout out" for certain behaviors, I find the whole group makes an effort to improve in that area.

Give 'em a Shout Out! This post gives suggestions on how to draw attention to those little things that kids do right, and deserve attention for it!


This little guy remembered to label his answer in Math!
 

Give 'em a Shout Out! This post gives suggestions on how to draw attention to those little things that kids do right, and deserve attention for it!

This little one gave a delightful reason for her prediction!

Give 'em a Shout Out! This post gives suggestions on how to draw attention to those little things that kids do right, and deserve attention for it!

These kiddos did a fabulous job on their homework, and earned the famous "Homework Award" Post its!

Give 'em a Shout Out! This post gives suggestions on how to draw attention to those little things that kids do right, and deserve attention for it!

This little guy has made huge improvements in Math, and everyone needed to know!

Give 'em a Shout Out! This post gives suggestions on how to draw attention to those little things that kids do right, and deserve attention for it!

Another great reason for a prediction. Aren't these kids great?
 
Give Shout outs a try! It just takes a few minutes, and it's a great way to give feedback and individual attention to a student that's deserving.  

They're all rather deserving, aren't they?
How do you draw attention to the type of work you expect?


Give 'em a Shout Out! This post gives suggestions on how to draw attention to those little things that kids do right, and deserve attention for it!



5 Days of Indoor Recess? 5 Ideas to Try!

No matter where you live, I'm sure you've had instances where the kiddos couldn't get outside to play. We've had snow, sleet, rain, and even wild animals keeping the children inside. And we all know how those kids (and adults) are when they can't get outside to play!

5 Days of Indoor Recess? 5 Ideas to Try: Here are some suggestions for those days when the children really need to get moving and shake things up!

Yet, we have to keep teaching! 

No worry, there are things that can be done to keep the children learning AND keep them from getting frustrated from lack of exercise.

Here are a five ideas:


1.  Transition! No matter how fascinating our lessons are, kids need to move their bodies.  Every time I notice them struggling to pay attention (about every 5-8 minutes according to research) I will change things up.  If they are at the rug, I'll have them go to their desks. If they're at their desks, we'll go to the rug. If they're at the reading table, I'll have them go get a book or a paper. Getting up to move grabs a few extra minutes to the lesson.

2. Brain Breaks! Sometimes a simple walk across the classroom isn't enough. They not only need to move, but they need to think about something else for a while! Playing imaginary basketball or playing the air guitar to a FUN song gives their brain as well as their body a change and a workout.  They get their blood moving as well as their imagination. 

3. Go Noodle! I'm sure you have heard of Go Noodle by now! My kiddos LOVE it! It is free (although you can pay for even more fun stuff) and there are numerous videos that are fun and get the kids moving. Most teachers who use it are in love with Go Noodle! (I admit, I'm one of them!)


4. Shake it Up! Although in a dream situation, the first week back after a break should be settling back into a schedule, that didn't happen for us this week. Usually I use the "shake it up" strategy when things have become stagnant and the kiddos need a change. Here are a few ways I shake things up without sacrificing classroom order and management:
 
  • Change their seats - they always love to see who their new "neighbors" are!
  • Reverse the schedule ( if your school allows)
  • Change the groupings 
  • Bring out a new set of books (my kids get so excited when I bring out new books!)
  • Start a whole new topic in Science or Social Studies

5. Glitter! When all else fails, bring out the glitter! Glitter not only makes a good incentive, but it's just plain cool! I brought out the glitter on Friday afternoon as a reward. After 5 days of indoor recess, they were still smiling, gave their all on the computer tests, and had learned 2 digit subtraction with regrouping! Now THAT is a great reason to bring out the glitter!

My kiddos had been working on goal setting for 2015 using THESE freebie foldables by Rachel Lamb.
5 Days of Indoor Recess? 5 Ideas to Try: Here are some suggestions for those days when the children really need to get moving and shake things up!

I think they needed glitter, don't you?

How do you survive after too much "inside" time?


5 Days of Indoor Recess? 5 Ideas to Try: Here are some suggestions for those days when the children really need to get moving and shake things up!

January Resources

I'm dreading going back. I've enjoyed my morning ritual of having a cup of coffee, watching TV, and browsing Facebook and teacher blogs while in my jammies! I'll have to say good bye to all that when our vacation ends.
 
January Resources: books, videos, and resources for teachers for the month of January including winter, science, social studies, and Martin Luther King Jr.


But the good news is: I get to see the kids again! Plus, there's a lot of fun stuff that can be done in January! (Well, besides testing and Progress Reports!)


First of all, it's winter. Now I've never been crazy about the snow or the cold, but the kiddos love playing in the snow, and I love their enthusiasm. Therefore, I look for opportunities to include winter themes in my classroom. Let's start with books! (Each image is a link to Amazon for more information!)

Here are a couple of fun resources to help the kids practice the basics in a fun way.
                           
 
HERE is a link to the winter video on Brain Pop Jr. Don't you love the way they put sophisticated concepts into language the children can understand?

Besides winter, there are a couple of days that are important. We have a day off for Martin Luther King Jr. In a couple of weeks. Besides making sure the kids know why we have the day off, I think Dr. King was an amazing man. I always spend some time talking about Dr. King, and love the innocent passion I always get from the kids each year. "They couldn't use the same bathroom? That's...just...so...wrong!" They are amazing!
                 
HERE's a link to the Brain Pop Martin Luther King Free movie! 

A lesser known holiday: Friday January 9th is National Static Electricity Day. It's handy that it lands when the air is so dry, since it gives us plenty of opportunities to explore static electricity! (I suspect that was intentional, but I know nothing about how National Static Electricity Day came to be!)

Speaking of electricity, did you realize Ben Franklin's birthday is January 17th? Now he's an interesting guy! 

     
I love all the little holidays.  Brain research tells us that children need novelty to learn. Well, all these little days are a great way to bring novelty into the classroom! See this resource for more of these fun little holidays! Click here: School Days are Fun Days Calendar of Fun 2021.


Don't forget...
January Resources: books, videos, and resources for teachers for the month of January including winter, science, social studies, and Martin Luther King Jr.

If you enjoy celebrating individual days, you'll love January Morning Meeting Greeting Activities! I'm trying to make your life easier by writing your morning letters for you. Each day includes the full date, something to celebrate on that date, and questions designed to get the children thinking! These can be used for discussions or writing prompts, and can be used occasionally or as a daily morning routine. Plus, they will be updated each year!
 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/January-Morning-Meeting-Greeting-Activities-4255779?utm_source=blog%20post&utm_campaign=January%20Calendar%20Questions

Here's another look at the individual pages!


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/January-Morning-Meeting-Greeting-Activities-4255779?utm_source=blog%20post&utm_campaign=January%20Calendar%20Questions

You may also be interested in this creation: Science and Social Studies Printables for January. There are activities for winter, Ben Franklin, static electricity, Martin Luther King Jr., mapping, and making timelines. See the image below for the link. (Be sure to download the preview for more details!)
 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/January-Science-and-Social-Studies-Activities-1630331?utm_source=blog%20post&utm_campaign=January%20S%20and%20SS

I've also put several January items into a bundle that has pretty much everything you'll need for those first few weeks back! 

This image gives you some ideas about what's in it, but if you want a closer look, check out my preview here: January Bundle or see the image below.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/January-Resources-Bundle-3540914?utm_source=Elementary%20Matters%20Blog&utm_campaign=January%20Resource%20Bundle


Enjoy your January!


January Resources: books, videos, and resources for teachers for the month of January including winter, science, social studies, and Martin Luther King Jr.


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