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## Well, I have the answer: games!

Brain research proves that getting the emotions involved helps the memory. (Think back to those very emotional times of your own life... the bring back strong memories, don't they? Think: weddings, babies, holidays)

It's also important that children spend some time in conversation. Brain research proves that, and as classroom teachers, we know we need to let them talk... sometimes!

For those reasons, I make sure my kids play plenty of math games. There are so many math skills that need to be repeated to be strengthened, and games can be played again and again!

The game above is a freebie version of a game my students have played for more than 20 years. The kids love it, and it's a great way to practice 2 digit addition, with a little bit of luck and strategy involved.

Here's another Math Game Freebie. I made this game one summer when I was helping out my friend with his golf camp and got inspired. (Some teachers just can't let go, can we?)

This one is easy, fun, and has lots of variations!

This one is perfect for those kiddos that need to move!

Here's a reminder on all those facts children need to learn! Hopefully these games will help them learn these!

Over the years, as I've been blogging, I keep coming back to games. Here are a few other posts that might interest you about games:

Want a little something digital?

Here are a couple of posts specific to learning math facts:

### Making Addition and Subtraction Facts Stick

For those all important math facts, try these fluency systems:

## I read a lot about how the brain learns and remembers. Why? Because I find it absolutely fascinating. I also want my students to learn, so I'm always searching for ways to help them remember what I've taught.

I've found that kids learn best when they get a little bit at a time, frequently, rather than one big lesson all at once, then never to see it again. (Unfortunately, our present Math program does the latter.)

There's plenty of evidence out there to prove that frequent review and practice is the best way for children to remember what they're learning.

There's also plenty of evidence to prove that connecting the learning to the passions of the children help the learning process as well.

So, what does this have to do with baseball?  That's the passion that I connect to learning geography!

I write a letter every morning to the children, letting them know of anything special happening that day. I also post the learning targets of the day. Then I usually put in some fun little question and/ or graphics:  you know, to motivate the kids to read the letter!

 This movie shows the insane loyalty of Red Sox fans!

Here in New Hampshire, we are die hard Red Sox fans.  Those of us who grew up in the Boston area have developed a loyalty that we just can't shake. Since the official start of  baseball season a couple of weeks ago, I've been writing a little "Red Sox Geography" question in the morning letter, complete with a map and labels.

It might look like this:

or like this:

I admit, I'm as almost as passionate about geography as I am about the Red Sox. If the little ones aren't baseball fans when they come into my class, they certainly are by the time they leave!

I make sure we have plenty of maps around, and the children scramble to be the first one with the answer! It's just a little bit every day, but they become familiar with the names of the states, the bodies of water, and the cardinal directions.

The timing is good, since their reading skills and their mapping skills are strong enough for these activities by April, and since we won't get out until the last week of June, they'll be getting almost daily practice!

Want to know more about brain based learning? See Ten Brain Based Learning Strategies or 10 Key Brainy Points.

## I am so ready for Spring!

Here in New Hampshire, the temperature seems to have trouble getting past the 40s, and there are still patches of snow everywhere, including my garden!

But Spring is in my heart, as well as my classroom.
Here are some of my Spring Products that you'll find my students using!

Earth Day Vocabulary Match is a fun way to review words related to Earth Day and protecting the environment.  There are several variations of play!

Spring Flower "Go Fish" Game is a great way to practice the prefixes un-, dis-, re-, and pre- as well as the meanings of these prefixes.

Here's another game with prefixes, with suffix practice as well!
Rainy Day Prefixes and Suffixes gives the children practice finding the base word of words with prefixes and suffixes.  The children can focus on just prefixes, just suffixes, or combine the two!

Two Rainbow Games:  Nouns and Adjectives, Verbs and Adverbs is a great opportunity to practice making up adjectives to go with nouns, and making up adverbs to go with verbs.

Mental Math Addition and Subtraction Game With a Spring Theme gives the students the opportunity to add or subtract multiples of ten mentally.

I have a whole lot of sports related products, and baseball season is upon us!  Here are a few baseball themed games:

Baseball Antonyms is a simple matching game for antonyms.  It can also be played as a "Old Maid" game, which the kids love!

Home Run Two Digit Addition is a BINGO type of game to practice two digit addition skills (with or without regrouping).

Looking for more sports related resources? See HERE!

## I'm a big fan of Earth Day.

I think looking out for our world is VERY important and it needs to happen now.

Each and every one of us needs to do what we can to help this place be around for our grandchildren and our grandchildren's grandchildren.

As most special days, I always celebrate every Earth Day with plenty of good literature.
Here are some of my favorite children's books with an Earth Day theme:

Earth Day is an ABC book, and makes a great introduction to the concept of protecting the environment.

The Lorax, is classic Seuss!  He tells about a mystical land of fantasy, which, in true Seuss fashion, is a much deeper real story.  Even my second graders understand this valuable lesson.

The Wump World is a fun book to read to the children and NOT show the illustrations (even the cover) until the children have had a chance to show the Wumps and Pollutians that they visualized while listening to the story.  Another great story about a fantasy world with very real lessons!

This one is a new discovery to me, and my new Earth Day Favorite

A River Ran Wild is a story that dates back to the days the Native Americans ruled this area, and respected the earth. It continues through European settlers, the industrial age, and attempts to clean up the river. This book is based on a local river, which makes it near and dear to my heart, but it's got a valuable message about protecting our world. My students became very upset when they saw what happened to the beautiful river. See THIS BLOG POST for more about this book, and an art activity to go with it.

After reading, I intend to have the children do some opinion writing and/ or explanatory/ informational writing based on what they have learned about protecting the environment.

Here's a collection of writing paper with the Earth Day theme that I'll be using.

Plus, here's a little song to encourage Recycling! Click the image to download Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

How are you honoring Earth Day this year?

### Twelve Ways to Celebrate Writing

As a blogger, I know the power of the audience. It's you readers out there that make me want to blog, and make me want to make quality blog posts! Don't our children need this same sense of audience to motivate their writing? I think so!

## Here are some ideas for celebrating the children's writing:

1. Share in Class! Have one child read his/ her story to the class. The class is expected to listen and ask questions that "prove they were listening." This works well when the child is "mid-story" in order to get ideas on where to go from this point.

2. Small Group Shares! Have children work in groups of 2 or three to share their stories as above.

3. Share Your Best Sentence!  I like this one because there's usually enough time for each child to share one sentence. If the children know it's coming, that helps motivate the children to work on the quality of their sentences.

4.  Share With Someone Else in the Building! There are lots of adults in an elementary school who would be thrilled to "play along" with this one! It's a great motivator to promise a child that he can read his story to the custodian, or the secretary, or the cafeteria workers. It's a win-win!

5. Share With Another Class! Plan to get together with another class in your own grade, or another grade to pair the children up for a big share! There are advantages to each age group: older, younger, or peers!

6. Skype! - Do you have a class with whom you Skype?  What a great opportunity for children to share their writing!

7. Write Letters! See THIS BLOG POST for the benefits of letter writing and resource to make it easy!
8. Bulletin Boards!  Post the children's writing on the wall for others to see!

9. Class Books and Newspapers! These will be read by classmates (and parents) over and over!

10. Publish! It's amazing how special it makes a story when it's typed up and a fancy cover is put on it. I allow students to take out each others' published books for Independent Reading time. It gets really interesting when we're talking about Author's purpose... the author is sitting right there in the classroom!

11. Have an "Author's Tea"! Invite parents, grandparents, and administrators, and give the children an opportunity to read one of their stories to the group. This can be as simple or as elaborate as you make it. It's a great opportunity for a party, and a great opportunity to motivate your young writers with a live audience!

12. Have a Class Blog!  I have to admit, I've never done this, but I'm planning to start a class blog very soon!  Imagine the thrill to see your own written work displayed on the internet! Wait... I know what that's like, and that's why I can't wait to give my students the opportunity to do the same!

If you have a blog for your class, or know of one, I'd love some input! I have loads of questions and concerns, so I'm looking for examples and mentors in the Class Blog department!