August 31, 2020

How Do Seeds Travel? + STEM Activity

In an earlier post (What Happens When You Plant Birdseed?), I described a science experiment in which some children in the neighborhood and I grew plants from birdseed this summer.  The children 'discovered' that birdseed can produce plants and those plants are able to grow and thrive.  In this blog post, I will describe another science experiment involving seeds.  This time we are going to learn about how seeds can travel!

Dirty Socks is a science experiment that demonstrates how seeds can travel by hitching themselves to clothing & animal fur. You only need clean socks!

August 29, 2020

Right Now, I Am Fine by Dr. Daniela Owen

There is a lot of talk these days about mindfulness.  It's the latest craze in health and wellness.  We see memes about it on social media, books about it in stores and libraries, videos about it on YouTube, etc.  We often told to be more mindful and to help our students and children become more mindful.  But what does that mean?  What is mindfulness?  Why is it important?  How do we do that?  Right Now, I Am Fine by Dr. Daniela Owen (affiliate link to Amazon) answers these questions and more.  Keep reading to learn Right Now, I Am Fine.

Learn about mindfulness, why it's important and how it can help students in the classroom by reading Right Now, I Am Fine by Dr. Daniela Owen.

Germs vs. Soap by Didi Dragon + STEM Activity

Handwashing is a vital skill for children to learn.  Their hands come into contact with countless germs each day.  This is especially problematic when children put their hands in their mouths or touch their eyes.  Handwashing is the best defense against spreading germs.  Germs vs. Soap by Didi Dragon (affiliate link to Amazon) is a fictional story based on facts.  It teaches children why they need to wash their hands and the right way to wash them.  Keep reading to learn more about Germs vs. Soap and about an enlightening science demonstration that makes children WANT to wash their hands the right way!

Learn about germs and the importance of washing your hands with this simple science demonstration and by reading Germs vs. Soap by Didi Dragon.

August 27, 2020

10 Children's Books About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The beginning of the school year is here and, for the first time in recent history, students and teachers are going back to school in the midst of a global pandemic.  No one really knows what to expect this school year and everyone feels anxiety on some level.  Listed below are 10 children's books about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and some of the issues children have to deal with.  

A compilation of ten children's books about the coronavirus (COVID-19).  Fiction and nonfiction books are included in the list.
(contains affiliate links and book descriptions from Amazon)

August 26, 2020

Recognizing Anxiety in Children

It is normal for children to feel anxious at times.  Examples of 'normal stress' include the beginning of the school year, having to stand up to present a report, or getting called on to answer questions in class.

However, 'bad stress' occurs when children feel anxious for prolonged periods of time and aren't able to effectively manage what they are feeling.  When this happens, the anxiety they feel can interfere with their school work, social interactions, class behavior, and self-esteem.  As teachers, we need to know what the symptoms of anxiety in children are, recognize when the children become anxious, and help them manage how they feel.

When children experience anxiety, they do not display the same symptoms as adults. Learn to recognize the signs of anxiety in children.

August 25, 2020

What Happens When You Plant Birdseed? + STEM Activity

Earlier this summer, I had an interesting conversation with one of the children in my neighborhood.  She wondered out loud if birdseed were 'real seeds' and if they could be planted the same way 'real seeds' could be.  This set the stage for a fun, month-long science experiment in which we tried to answer the question... what happens when you plant birdseed?

Use the scientific process to answer the question... What happens when you plant birdseed? A simple science experiment that requires minimal materials.

Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah starts on September 18th this year and it's never too early to start making plans for how you'll celebrate.  Little kids can help with the festivities too.  They can make cards for the people in their families. When choosing a story for preschool children, you need a story with bold pictures and a storyline they can follow.  Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashanah (affiliate link to Amazon) has both.

Learn about Rosh Hashanah and apples dipped in honey with Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashanah by Sylvia Rouss

August 24, 2020

When the Chickens Went on Strike: A Rosh Hashanah Tale by Erica Silverman

Rosh Hashanah... the Jewish New year... will begin on September 18th of this year and will last until September 20th.  During Rosh Hashanah people will sound the shofar each morning, light candles in the evenings, enjoy festive meals with friends and family and attend services at a synagogue.  Some people will also participate in the Jewish ritual of atonement called kapores (also known as kapparot or kaporos) during this time.  Kapores is a ritual in which a chicken or money is waved over a person's head and the chicken is then slaughtered in accordance with halachic rules and donated to charity.  Kapores is a controversial practice and people often choose to wave money instead of a chicken.  Some choose not to do either.  Erica Silverman tells the story of kapores from an interesting perspective... from the perspective of the chickens!  The story is called When the Chickens Went on Strike: A Rosh Hashanah Tale (affiliate link to Amazon) and was first published in 2003.  

Learn about the Jewish ritual of atonement called kapores/kapparot/kaporos with the book When the Chickens Went on Strike by Erica Silverman.

August 23, 2020

STEM and General Science Materials to Keep in Your Kitchen

You don't have to have expensive science equipment to engage children in meaningful science activities at home.  In fact, you don't have to spend much money at all.  In this blog post, I'll share with you five items that you may already have in your kitchen.  If you don't have them already, you can find them in grocery stores and dollar stores near you.

A compilation of five household ingredients in your kitchen that you can use for science experiments. You might have them already in your cabinets!
(This is an updated version of a blog post I wrote in 2014.)

August 22, 2020

What is Labor Day?

Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September.  It honors American workers who contribute to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.  It is also a federal holiday that marks the unofficial end of summer.  Here are five fun facts about Labor Day for you.

Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. What is it all about? Find out with these fun facts.

August 18, 2020

Five Fun Facts About Honey Bees

August 18 is National Honey Bee Day.  This day was designed to bring awareness to these little insects who do a big job.  Did you know that these insects are responsible for pollinating up to 1/3 of the world's food supply?  Without them, we could have a critical food shortage around the globe.  Read on to learn more about honey bees and what they can do!

Learn about honey bees, why they are important, and how we can help them with these five fun facts!

August 16, 2020

Keko and the Lost Bananas

Keko and the Lost Bananas by Cynthia Pilcher (out of print, 2020) is a sweet story about friendship and sharing.  It features two animal friends who have a problem to work out: Dilly, a small fruit bat, has taken Keko's beloved bananas without permission.  Keko is a monkey... and we all know how much monkeys love bananas!

Learn about friendship and sharing with Keko and the Lost Bananas by Cynthia Pilcher... book two in The Woodland Adventures series.

August 15, 2020

How to Make Your Own Playdough

When I taught preschool years ago, making my own playdough was something I did on a regular basis.  The children loved playing with it and we probably went through a batch every other week.  I'm not sure where the recipe I used came from; it hung faithfully on the school's kitchen wall ever since I could remember.  The one thing that made this recipe different from the others I tried was the secret ingredient... Kool-Aid packets.  Keep reading for that recipe!

Learn how to make playdough with this simple recipe. You will need flour, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, water and Kool Aid packets.

(This is an updated version of a blog post I wrote in 2015.)

August 14, 2020

The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola + STEM Activity

Many 2nd and 3rd grade students learn about clouds in their science classes.  They learn about how clouds are formed in the atmosphere, what the different types are, and what each type forecasts.  If your students need to learn about clouds in your class, keep reading.  In this blog post, I'll introduce you to The Cloud Book (affiliate link to Amazon) by Tomie dePaola and a twist on a traditional cloud craft.

Learn about the different types of clouds with The Cloud Book written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola then make a model with this simple craftivity.

August 13, 2020

Helping Your Left-Handed Students

Today is August 13th... did you know it is also International Lefthanders Day?  An estimated seven to ten percent of the world's population are left-handed and International Lefthanders Day brings attention to the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed in a predominately right-handed world.

Three easy strategies for teachers and parents to help their left-handed students and children.

Chances are you have a student or two in your class who is left-handed.  Here are three simple strategies you can use in the classroom to support his/her writing efforts.

August 11, 2020

What is STEM Education?

STEM education is becoming increasingly popular in our school systems.  Students often take STEM classes and participate in STEM activities at school.  What is STEM and why is it so important?  Read on to find out!

What is STEM? STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Learn more about STEM education and why it's important.

August 9, 2020

The Chalk Box Kid by Clyde Robert Bulla

The Chalk Box Kid by Clyde Robert Bulla is a terrific book to use when introducing chapter books to second-grade students. It's not terribly long. . . only 64 pages. . . and has clear cut characters, settings, problems, and solution. 

Learn about The Chalk Box Kid by Clyde Robert Bulla, an early chapter book for children, and how it can be used in the classroom.
(This is an updated version of a blog post I wrote in 2018.)

August 7, 2020

How to Play Mum-ball

Have you ever played mum-ball with your students?  It's a terrific game to play during recess or when your students need a quick brain break.  It gets the children up and moving and is super easy.  There are very few rules you need to remember and only one item you need. . . a big, bouncy, beach ball from your local department store.

Mum-ball is a fun game to play as a brain break or for inside recess.  Learn the rules of playing mum-ball.
(This is an updated version of a blog post I wrote in 2015.)

August 5, 2020

Pete the Cat and the Treasure Map by James Dean

It's August and we're in the midst of the pirate season.  All over the country, there are pirate festivals and celebrations.  Children enjoy dressing up as pirates, singing songs about pirates, and playing pirate games this time of year.  Are you looking for a fun activity to try with your children and students?  Try painting rocks to make pirate gold and going on a treasure hunt!

Read Pete the Cat and the Treasure Map by James Dean, hunt for pirate gold, and have a tasty treat for National Pirate Day!
(This is an updated version of a blog post I wrote in 2015.)

August 4, 2020

F is for Flag Wendy by Cheyette Lewison

On July 4th, people all over the United States celebrated Independence Day.  Many people attended picnics, parades, and carnivals.  Many people dressed up in red, white, and blue and many more enjoyed watching firework displays in their communities.  Even though the festivities of July 4th are over, this is a terrific time for small children to learn more about the American flag.  What colors are on the flag?  (red, white, and blue)  How many stripes are on the flag?  (thirteen)  How many stars are on the flag?  (fifty)  When we look at the flag, what should we think about and remember?  (America!)

Celebrate Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, or Memorial Day with some arts and crafts and the book F is for Flag Wendy Cheyette Lewison.

August 1, 2020

Creative Ways to Practice Spelling

Are you tired of the same old, same old when it comes to spelling practice? Are you tired of having your students write their spelling words five times each or having them write their spelling words in sentences? If so, keep reading. In this post, I present to you four strategies that have helped my students with spelling over the years. I didn't invent these strategies... these strategies have been around for years. But these are the strategies my students have enjoyed the most and have gotten the most benefit from. I hope they'll help your students too. Enjoy!

Change up your spelling homework routine with these creative alternatives: rainbow words, pyramid words, red and blue words, and word scramble.
(This is an updated version of a blog post I wrote in 2015.)