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## Can you believe February is upon us?

Groundhog Day is the second. Will that groundhog see his shadow? Well, here's a groundhog that can predict the weather!

Here's a Groundhog Day Consonant -le word work activity to practice the Consonant-l-e ending in words! Just click the image!

Here's some more groundhog fun... to practice prefixes and suffixes. Just see the image! Don't let the Groundhog See his Shadow!

And some Groundhog math fun, with a little "Super Football" math fun as well. Groundhog Day and Super Football Math Problems

Have you had Day 100? Ours will be this Wednesday. Here's a great Day 100 book!

This is a game that challenges my second graders, and they love it! Mental Math 100: Adding and Subtracting Hundreds

This is a great activity if you're going to be out: easy directions, and the kiddos LOVE it! And it's great for developing their number sense.  Here's another Day 100 activity for "older" kiddos to practice sets of 100 Count to 1,000 Booklet.

And a Day 100 Dollar Deal for active kids...just see the image! Beanie Toss to 100

Guess what else is coming soon... Mardi Gras! These worksheets, games, and activities will keep them busy AND learning! Mardi Gras No Prep Activities: Literacy and Math

Valentine's Day is the same week! Here's my VERY favorite book to read for Valentine's Day! This one will warm your heart, and the kids' hearts as well!

And a Valentine's Day Dollar Deal! Two Valentine's Day Mini-Books

Here are a few fun books for Presidents Day!

Here are plenty of activities for the kids with an American President theme! President's Day Games and Activities

Want to make life a whole lot easier and grab a big bargain?  Here's a bundle with several different activities!

## Teaching has many challenges!

One of the big challenges is staying healthy! Winter is the worst, since the kids (and teachers) are all cooped up inside breathing the same air and touching the same germs.

## Here are ten things you can do to help fight those germs and help your immune system do what it needs to do!

1. Wash your hands! We all know this is the #1 way to fight germs!

2. Eat healthy! What you put into your body really does make a difference! Of course we can't totally deny ourselves of the "fun" foods, but most of the food you eat should be healthy. In particular, avoid processed foods, they're mostly chemicals and very little nutrition that your body needs to fight germs.

3. Exercise! Exercising helps your body in many ways. Many studies have proved that the same hormones produced while exercising help strengthen the immune system. (Plus, they make you feel happy: bonus!)

4. Get fresh air daily! Yes, more studies have been done on the impact of fresh air on health, and it really does make a difference! Keeping all those kiddos (and teachers) cooped up all day breathing the same air just doesn't seem too healthy, does it?

5. Get enough sleep! One night with insufficient sleep weakens the immune system. We need to keep that immune system strong, since there are germs all around us!

6. Avoid too much screen time! The main reason we need to avoid too much screen time is because it keeps us from doing the things that help us stay healthy! (See the rest of this list!)

7. Cope with stress! Laughter is a great way to cope with stress and help strengthen the immune system. (See THIS post.) Listening to "happy music" will also help melt that stress away! (See THIS post.)

8. Visit the doctor regularly! Keep up with your vaccinations and check ups! (That includes the dentist and gyno for women!)

9. Drink plenty of water! I think we all know the importance of drinking plenty of water! Unfortunately, for teachers, we need to be careful about WHEN we drink the water. I tend to increase my intake when I'm about an hour from a bathroom break.

10. Strive to be happy! Being happy actually creates chemicals that help build the immune system

Check out THIS blog post for ways to be happy!

## If for some reason you are unable to fight those germs, HERE are some tips to help you with Sub Plans!

### 15 Ways to Be Happy

I've done all the typical resolutions. I've done the "lose weight" resolution pretty much every year. I've done the "eat well", "exercise", "get organized", "manage your time better", "stress less", and "be the best you can be" resolutions for each new year. Enough!

These aren't bad resolutions, but I'm planning something a bit different.

## Honestly, it's quite a challenge for teachers (as well as students) to be happy these days. Our days seem to evolve around test scores, and never about the true needs of the children, which can be heartbreaking to those of us who have always wanted the best for children. But I believe it can be done. (Did I mention that I also believe it will get better? I'll never stop believing that!)

As many of you know, I do a lot of reading about the brain and how children learn. Have I mentioned I also have read a lot about what makes people happy?  There's a lot of research out there!

## Here are some scientifically researched ways to be happy:

Show Kindness - Evidence shows we can feel happier simply by showing a kindness to others. Try giving a compliment to someone and see how that makes you feel!

Practice Gratitude - I've read a great deal of research on the benefits of gratitude. Take time to think about your blessings.

Cooperate, Don't Compete - How can you help someone else have success? We are NOT in competition with each other!

Happiness is Contagious - If you are happy, it helps those around you to be happy!

Be Positive - Keep a positive mindset. Believe you can be happy!

Know Your Strengths -  Everyone is good at some things. What are your strengths?

Get Enough Sleep - This seems pretty obvious, but if you don't get enough sleep, you'll be miserable in many ways. Although it's not always in our control, do your best to get enough sleep. If necessary, find time for a nap!

Listen to Music - There have been many studies connecting music with our moods. I'm sure you can name a few songs that put you in a good mood immediately when you hear them.

Have Something to Look Forward To - I've always noticed that I'm in a better mood if I have something I'm looking forward to. It might be a trip, a get-together, or even a TV show! Now there's scientific research to back this up!

Laugh - There are plenty of benefits to laughter (See THIS post!) Be sure to take plenty of opportunities to laugh each day!

Meditate -  This can mean many things to many people. Whether it means praying, quiet time, time to reflect, or just "down time", it is needed. With our very busy lives, it's more needed than ever!

Exercise - I'm sure you know all about how exercise produces endorphins. These are the "happy chemicals" that make you feel good. Seriously, don't you feel better after a workout?

Reduce Stress - Many of the ideas listed in this post will help you reduce stress. We can't make it go away, but we can do our best to control the stress we have. Here are several ways: deep breathing, soft music, meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, laughter, exercise, chewing gum, taking a nap, hugging, kissing, or taking part in an outlet like painting, dancing, or writing.

Be With Good People - The companionship of true friends or family can't be replaced. Spend time daily enjoying the company of good people.

Spend Time with An Animal - No one can argue about the joy of a loving animal! Puppies are even used in hospitals for therapy!

These are just a few ways to help yourself (or others) be happy.

Here's what I made to help my students be happy:

These are great to hand out at morning meeting, discuss, then let the children wear them home to share with family. Maybe it will help their families be happy too!

Here's a little resource to help children be happy: Gratitude Journal Labels!

## I had my students do this "Elf Laws" activity, and I'm not sure who had more fun, the kids or me!

The first part of the activity asks the children to put the Elf Laws in order with the most important law being #1 and the least important law being #10.

Once I convinced them that any answer was correct as long as they could defend their answer, the fun started. The children worked in pairs making their decisions and defending their decisions. I enjoyed some delightful conversations!

I've developed the skill of pretending I'm working on something else while they work in order to hear those true conversations!

I'm sure you've done it...pretend you're organizing books for tomorrow and walk by slowly. These are precious moments!

Well, once they got their laws in order, the real fun started: writing about why they put the laws in the order they did. Some children had a little trouble starting, but I prompted them with some questions like, "Why do you think cleaning up the workshop is so important?" Or "why is tooth brushing more important than singing carols?" Or "why don't you think wearing hats is an important rule?"

Here are some examples of how they defended their Elf Rules:
• Elves need to show respect to other elves, just like we do.
• It's not important to brush teeth, that's what dentists are for!
• Elves don't need to wear hats. They work indoors.
• They need to clean up the workshop. What if Santa tripped over something? We want Santa safe.
• Of course they need to care for the reindeer. Who else is going to do it?
• Elves work very hard making all those toys. It's important for them to get a break after Christmas. Just like us!

## Aren't kids precious?

This is the perfect activity for this time of year. It keeps them engaged, and it's a valuable learning experience. For more activities like this, please see Science and Social Studies Printables for December. These will get you through those last few days.