Wednesday, September 30

Matching Costumes by D.G. Driver

Matching is an important early childhood skill that helps in the classification of objects. Matching is the identification of the same or similar objects based on their common properties. Being able to match like and similar objects, themes, characteristics, numbers, etc. is a skill that will continue to be taught well into elementary school and beyond.  Matching Costumes by D.G. Driver introduces us to a little girl who uses her matching skills to pick out Halloween costumes for her and her puppy.  Keep reading to learn more about Matching Costumes and for a simple language arts lesson to go with it.

Language arts lesson and creative response for Matching Costumes by DG Driver. Children draw matching Halloween costumes for themselves and their dog.

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Oozing Pumpkins STEM Experiment

Halloween is coming!  Families will be carving pumpkins and decorating their houses with them.  When Halloween is over, these pumpkins will be thrown away, fed to animals, or tossed into compost piles.  But... these pumpkins can be used for something fun and educational before being disposed of... science!  Read on to learn more about a fun science experiment you can do with these leftover pumpkins.

Combine baking soda and vinegar to create an exciting chemical reaction! Oozing Pumpkins is a fun STEM science experiment for children of all ages.

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Saturday, September 26

The Adventures of Noah by Lori Brown

Animal shelters provide an important service in our communities.  They bring in dogs, cats, and other animals who are homeless or unwanted.  The people who work at animal shelters make sure the animals get proper food to eat and clean water to drink.  They also clean their cages, take the dogs on walks, and provide medical treatment to the animals as needed.  It is estimated that as many as 62 million dogs and 64 million cats are in animal shelters across the United States.  Some of these animals will be adopted into loving homes.  Unfortunately, many will not.  Adventures of Noah tells the story of one lucky puppy who finds his 'happily-ever-after.'  

Adjectives and characterization with The Adventures of Noah by Lori Brown. Noah is a rescue dog who found his forever home. Based on a true story.

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Wednesday, September 23

Mindfulness and Sensory Bottles in the Classroom

For years, preschool teachers and homeschool families have used mindfulness bottles (also called 'sensory' and 'calming' bottles) with their students.  They use mindfulness bottles to help a child who is experiencing anxiety or other overwhelming feelings to calm their emotions.  What are mindfulness bottles and how are they made?  How are they used?  How can they be used in the classroom? Read on to learn the answers to these questions! 

Mindfulness bottles (aka: sensory bottles) can be used in the classroom to help students deal with overwhelming emotions. Directions to make a bottle.

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Saturday, September 19

10 Children's Books about Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last night, and many Americans...including myself...are feeling heartbroken.  Justice Ginsburg was a strong, powerful woman on the Supreme Court of the United States and a champion of the people.  Throughout her life, she was a strong advocate for the civil rights of women, people of color, the LGBT community, and people with disabilities.  Keep reading to learn more about Justice Greenburg and to discover 10 children's books about her.

A compilation of 10 biographical children's books written about the life, career and accomplishments of Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Thursday, September 17

The Harvest Sprites by Hayley Nystrom

Call me silly, but I believe there is something wonderful and magical about autumn.  I love the colors in the trees, the crispness in the air, wearing my warm sweaters and socks, wrapping myself in a blanket, and snuggling in with a good book.  I love the tastes and smells of freshly made apple cider and cinnamon doughnuts.  And I especially love the big bonfires and making s'mores with my family and friends.  Autumn is my favorite time of the year!

I recently found The Harvest Sprites by Hayley Nystrom.  I fell in love with it right away!  It's a fun book with beautiful illustrations of everything autumn has to offer.  Read on to learn more about The Harvest Sprites and how you can integrate it with your lessons at school.

Learn about the signs & symbols of fall with The Harvest Sprites by Hayley Nystrom. Students will match characters of the book to the symbols of fall.

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Wednesday, September 16

Grow! How We Get Food from Our Garden by Karl Beckstrand

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post called How to Grow Celery from Food Scraps.  In that post, I talked about the disconnect children have about their food and described a science activity you can do with them.  Since then, I learned about a new book hitting the market in October 2020.  It's called Grow!  How We Get Food from Our Garden by Karl Beckstrand.  Grow! would be a good book to read with your students to help them realize where their food comes from.  Yes, food does come from the grocery store.  But before it gets to the grocery store, it was grown in someone's garden.  Read on to learn more about Grow! and to get ideas on how to use it in your classroom.

Learn where our food comes from with Grow! How We Get Food from Our Garden by Karl Beckstrand. Children learn that the food we eat comes from gardens.

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Monday, September 14

Lucy's Mask by Lisa Sirkis Thompson

The school year has started and things are looking different than they had in the past.  One of the most obvious changes is that teachers and students must wear facemasks when they are in close proximity to other people.  In some school districts, they are required to wear them at all times besides lunch and break.  By now, most people are used to wearing facemasks.  They may not always want to wear masks, but they do so because they know it's the right thing to do.  

There will be days when students... and teachers... will feel frustrated by having to wear masks for so long.  They may take off their masks and not want to put them back on.  It's normal for them to have those feelings, but not OK to act on them.  If this happens and tensions start to rise because of it, sometimes taking a break and reading a story can help.  Lucy's Mask by Lisa Sirkis Thompson is a fun, lighthearted story that reminds children why it's important to wear their facemasks and even lets them know they can be superheroes when they wear them!  How fun is that?

Learn about the importance of wearing your face mask, then make a fun self-portrait after reading Lucy's Mask by Lisa Sirkis Thompson.

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Saturday, September 12

10+ Children's Books about the Chinese Moon Festival

xī wàng míng yuè néng bǎ wǒ mén dě zhù fú hé huān lè dōu dài gěi nǐ.
希 望 明 月 能 把 我 们 的 祝 福 和 欢 乐 都 带 给 你。

May the full moon bring blessings and happiness from our home to yours!

It is almost time for the Chinese Moon Festival, also known as the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.  This festival is always celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month when there is a full moon.  On this special day, people gather with friends and family, give thanks for bountiful harvests, and say prayers for a good future.  It's also a time filled with colorful lanterns, music, games, and... of course... mooncakes!  Read on to discover 10 children's books about this joyous occasion.

A compilation of 10+ children's books about the Chinese Moon Festival, what it is, who celebrates it, and how it's celebrated. Fiction and nonfiction.

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Friday, September 11

Does Halloween Candy Sink or Float?

It's only September and the stores are already gearing up for Halloween.  Shelf after shelf after shelf is loaded up with bags of Halloween candy waiting for you to buy it and take it home.  Of course, we can eat the Halloween candy or pass it out to trick-or-treaters, but we can also use it to teach little ones about one of the basic fundamentals of science... does it sink or float?


A Halloween candy themed sink or float science experiment. Introduction to scientific process. Materials, procedure, prediction, and record results.

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Wednesday, September 9

How to Make a Paper Bag Pumpkin

 When I was little, my father taught me and my brother how to make paper bag pumpkins.  They were fun and easy to make.  We used them as a centerpiece for our dining room table, as decorations for autumn and Halloween, and as simple toys to play with.  Read on to learn the three steps to make your own paper bag pumpkin!

Directions to make a simple Halloween or autumn pumpkin decoration out of a brown lunch bag, shredded paper, glitter and paint.  Toddler friendly.

This is an updated version of a blog post I wrote in 2015.
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Tuesday, September 8

How to Grow Celery from Scraps + STEM Activity

A couple of years ago I had an interesting conversation with my second and third-grade class.  We were having a conversation about edible plants and some of the children were grossed out when they made the connection between vegetables and the plants we eat.  Carrots are roots?  Gross!  Lettuce is a leaf?  Gross!  Celery is a stem?  Gross!  My students truly did not know where their vegetables come from.  They knew that vegetables come from the grocery store, often in cans and freezer bags.  They knew they could find fresh vegetables in the produce section... but most of them did not know anything more than that.  To help your students make the connection between plants and the foods they eat, you can use their food scraps to grow veggies in the classroom.  Keep reading to find out how.

Learn how to grow celery from food scraps.  All you need is the cut end from a celery stalk, a clear jar or glass, and some clean water.

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Friday, September 4

Fun Facts About Rhinoceroses

September 22 is World Rhino Day. World Rhino Day was started in 2010 by the World Wildlife Fund as a way to celebrate the rhinoceros and to teach people around the world about them.  Several species of rhinoceros are critically endangered and need our help.  Read on to learn some fun facts about these amazing gentle giants and how we can help them.

Fun Facts About Rhinoceroses

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Thursday, September 3

10 Children's Books About Rosh Hashanah

Shanah Tovah!  It is almost time for Rosh Hashanah... the Jewish New Year!  Rosh Hashanah will begin this year on September 18th (on the eve of Tishrei 1) and will last until September 20 (after nightfall on Tishrei 2).  It is a time of celebration and introspection for the Jewish people.  Listed below are 10 fiction and non-fiction books about Rosh Hashanah that your students may enjoy.

Compilation of 10 children's books about Rosh Hashanah.  Fiction and nonfiction books about  various customs, traditions, family, friends, and food!

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Wednesday, September 2

What is a Word Spree?

One of the first writing assignments I have my students do at the beginning of the school year is something called a word spree.  A word spree is a short, 10-minute assessment that checks students' abilities to recall words they already know by heart. . . or in more professional terms. . . how many words they can control with automaticity.  (Automaticity comes from the word automatic and refers to the ability to do things without occupying the mind, without thinking about them.)  To do a word spree, all you need is a blank piece of paper and something to write with.

A word spree is a simple spelling and vocabulary assessment elementary teachers can conduct in the beginning and end of the school year.

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