Engaging Students in Themed Days

There is no denying that the easiest way to keep students engaged is to have themed days in your classroom. Typical days I participate in are Polar Express Days, Snowed-In Days, May the 4th Be With You, The Ocean Festivals, The Thankful Festivals, and a Fall Festivals. The Fall Festival is where our team teaches the same fall lesson with a craftivity to the entire kindergarten as they rotate to each room. Another great day which involves math, science, reading, writing and critical thinking skills is a SPY Day. This themed day motivates and rewards your students while sneaking in learning. Students dress up like secret agents, are given a mission to find a stolen object, walk through lasers, learn how to lift fingerprints, make memorize a new alias and work as a team to discover clues to solve the mystery. Allowing the kids to dress like secret agents, really gets them engaged. I keep the lights off and have them do their work with flashlights. I also invite parents to participate in the fun. When students see their parents having fun, they can’t help but be more positive about learning. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have extra help these days too! I’ve never had one themed day where there was a child not participating. It’s a lot of prep work for the teacher, but well worth the work. So, if you want your students engaged in learning, try to make learning fun by introducing a themed day. Click the picture below to find the printables for this themed day.
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Spring and Easter Crafts and Activities that ROCK the Classroom!

Springtime is so much fun for students. It’s a time to celebrate change, colors and happiness. In my classroom, I always enjoy ordering caterpillars for the students to see them emerge into beautiful butterflies. The excitement from the students is priceless! Students send in jelly beans, and we learn math by sorting, counting, classifying and graphing the beans. Then they get to eat or take the jelly beans home. Another great spring activity that is gaining popularity in our area, is painting positive messages on rocks and hiding them around the campus for other students to find. Students really get into the activity, and it’s easy to get some other classrooms to participate in the fun. You can integrate science, writing, math and reading in this “Kindness” unit. Whatever you decide to do to make the season with your class special and memorable, make sure it’s so fun that the kids are blinded by the rigor of the assignment! Happy Spring!
Below are some links to useful printables:



St. Patrick’s Day Crafts and Ideas

I love celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in my classroom!  So this year, I’m a little bummed that we are on Spring Break, but who is going to complain about being on a break?

There are a lot of fun activities you can do with your students to really make the day memorable, special, and educational! I like to start my day with a leprechaun story from our class library.  I also love the video Leprechaun’s Gold found on YouTube.  You can explain the vocabulary words gold, greed, kindness and caring to the students after the video. I usually show it during Social Studies.  Share with the students that leprechauns are small, mischievous little men you find in Irish folklore. Then, locate Ireland on a globe.  I tell students how last year I almost caught one messing up my classroom, but he escaped.  I read the poem The Paper Leprechaun to the students.  I have them make their own paper leprechaun and pot of gold.  The pot of gold is separate from the leprechaun, so they can hide the gold from the paper leprechaun. They give their leprechaun a personality by writing it’s biography.   While students are at lunch, I mess up the room, sprinkle gold or green glitter around (even in the toilets), make little green footprints on the floor that lead to an open window and leave gold chocolate coins on their desks with a note from Lucky the Leprechaun. I have a pair of green felt little pants that I made myself, and hang from the open window. I pretend to try and grab him, but only have his pants.  The kids always giggle thinking there is a leprechaun running around in it’s underwear!  For math, I buy Lucky Charms cereal to pass out to the students.  They have to sort, graph and solve math problems using the lucky marshmallows found in the cereal.  After I check their work, they get to eat the cereal. (As always, check for food allergies prior to this lesson.) I send home a Family Project for student’s to create a trap for a leprechaun to build that home connection.  Finally, I let them make leprechaun headbands and Shamrock GLASSES to wear during story time.  If the kids are having fun learning, they will develop a lasting relationship with you and want to learn!

St Patricks Day Craft Leprechaun Craft Hat and Beard Headb St. Patrick's Day Writing and Crafts - Leprechaun Unit

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St Patrick's Day Craftivity - The Paper Leprechaun - Fun P   St Patrick's Day Craftivity Clover Glasses - by Teacher's Brain  Lucky Charms Graph - St. Patrick's Day Math Sort and Writing

Happy St. Patrick’s Day,

Cindy

HTML Codes – Make TpT Listings POP!

I’m constantly trying to get my Teachers Pay Teachers product listings to stand out and POP among the thousands of other great product listings.  Here are some “cheat sheets” to help you make your listings SHINE!

Make it BOLD by inserting <stong>YOUR TEXT HERE</stong>

Underline it by inserting <span style=”text-decoration:line-through;”>YOUR TEXT HERE</span>

Copy and Paste These:

A round bullet: &bull;
An arrow pointing right: &rarr;
An arrow pointing left: &larr;
A heart-shaped bullet: &hearts;
A diamond-shaped bullet: &diams;
A star-shaped bullet: &#9733;

Groundhog Day in K!

Groundhog Day is celebrated in America on February 2 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The legend is that the groundhog comes out of his burrow and if it sees it’s shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather.  If it is cloudy and there is no shadow, it is an indication of an early spring.  Each year we create crafts and make predictions about groundhogs in my kindergarten class.  Here are some ideas:Slide22

  1. Pass out sticky notes and have a chart to make predictions on if the groundhog will see it’s shadow or not on February 2.
  2. Go to the Groundhog Web site to share the history of Punxsutawney Phil and watch the video LIVE STREAM of Punxsutawney.   http://www.groundhog.org/ (You can see the replay here also.)
  3. Use this FREE coloring printable for students to engage in for fine motor skills.
  4. Sing Groundhog Day Poem (Tune: Frere Jacques)Groundhog Day

    Groundhog Day

    Is near

    Is near

    Will he see his shadow

    Will he see his shadow

    And disappear

    Disappear

  5. You can make the whole day relate to groundhogs by using activities in all subject areas in this GROUNDHOG DAY UNIT.

Make it a fun day! Students remember connections, not lessons.

School Holiday Door Decorating Contest

This year our school decided to do a door decorating contest.  Although I didn’t win, the contest made the school look festive, challenged teachers to a little friendly competition, provided a fun tour of doors for the kids, and inspired me to share some of my favorites in this blog post. Enjoy!

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Oh Deer Holiday Door Decorating Contest
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Gone to the Beach – First Place Winner – $100 Gift Card

 

 

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Read Your Way Through Some Snowy History Door Contest
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Elves At Work Door Contest
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My Door – Let It Snow Sight Words – Students made sight word snow flakes for the walls and windows.

 

 

Transform Your Classroom into a Movie Theater

I always like to go “all out” during the holidays for my students.  Transforming your classroom is the easiest way to create a magical day for your students to remember forever.  In the past, I used the Polar Express theme for the holidays, but this year I looped up with several of my students from kindergarten to first grade, so I wanted to change my theme to provide a different experience.  I thought about Frozen or WIMG_5905inter Wonder Land, but when I thought about making my classroom into a Movie Theater, it felt perfect!   I could incorporate any movie with the props that I would design or get donated this year and save for future years. The first thing I did was have my students brainstorm ideas for a holiday movie theFullSizeRender (23)y
would like to watch.  They decided on classic holiday movies, like Rudolph, Frosty and The Muppets.  The Muppet’s Christmas Carol was a great fit for the day.  I then found a version of the story on YouTube to show the students the day before of movie day.  I use the story to compare and contrast the story to the movie.IMG_5982

Next I asked parents to for donations by sending a letter home. They donated boxes of various large boxed candies, water bottles wrapped in movie thIMG_5917emed labels, and plastic popcorn holders for the movie theater concession stand.  Our PTA let us borrow the popcorn maker they use at their events, and donated the popcorn. IMG_6112

I called the local movie theater, a local beverage distributor and several sign companies to donate props for the inside and outside of the room for the day.  They all easily said yes.  Just a phone call sometimes will work.  I had one parent agree to help the day prior to the PJs at the Movies Day.  Students always like to wear their pajamas to school, so I wanted to incorporate it.  Decorating took about 4 hours.  Of course you can skip several decoration ideas to make it less time consuming.  We used red bulletin board paper around the movie screen to look like a curtain, but then found cheap red plastic table clothes worked better.  We tied fishing line from the ceiling to hold them up.  The sign companies donated static window clings to stick to the FullSizeRender (21)windows which looked like movie posters, banners to hang in the classroom and Hollywood movie starts for the ground.  We used clear contact paper to write student’s names on and stuck the names on the stars in order to be able to peel them off and reuse them next year.IMG_6070

A parent donated PVC pipes they painted black with a base on the bottom to use and make an aisle.  The students loved waiting in line at the window (Ticket Booth) to get their ticket.  You can make tickets or just buy them from Oriental Trading.  I bought them and used them to pull thrFullSizeRender (22)oughout the day for special trips to the treasure box.  I also found a backdrop, camera center piece, gold starts to hang and a red carpet to roll out there for minimal cost.  At the “ticket booth” students are asked how they are going to pay for the ticket.  I quickly suggest something I see in their hands, like a backpack, folder or their shoe.  This takes about 10 minutes and provides photo opportunities for the parents.

The couple weeks prior to the PJs at the Movies Day, I had students work to create Bios for our Movie Star Bulletin Board.  It made a nice addition to the theme and we could leave the bulletin up for January also.  You can find the free Bio Sheet at my TPT store.

Students wore pajamas, brought a stuffed animal, blanket and enjoyed the movie with a concession/bathroom break.  After the movie we did a Venn diagram of the book and the movie to compare them.  A student said, “This is the best day of my life” at the end of the day.

Halloween Crafts and Centers

Fall is one of my favorite times of year!  Not only does the weather feel nice, but the fall activities for Halloween are so much fun for children and adults to participate in during this season.  Here are some ideas for family fun crafts or classroom centers when you are celebrating the holiday. This is my sweet daughter img_4475sporting a spider hat she personalized with a bow.  There is also a witch hat a child could add.  I let my students go outside and gather fall leaves.  Then they use the leaves to paint and press to drawing paper to make leaf prints.  You can add writing to it to hit some more standards. Want some low prep or no prep simple centers?  Check out the Halloween Centers Pack full of fun ideas like puppets, books, letter id games, pumpkin math, and so much more. Another fun activity is for the students to read Where’s my Mummy by Carolyn Crimi.  You can find the story on You Tube, if you dohalloween-squaren’t have the book.  Have students make their own mummy and use the printable to help them make a Text to Self connection after reading the book.  It makes a cute bulletin board or window display for your parents to enjoy!  No matter what have fun with the children!

halloween-mummy

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Counting and Cardinality in Kindergarten

Primary students learn when best using all their senses.  I always like to provide a hook for each math lesson.  The hook can be a simple two minute video, a short puppet show, a physical object that connects the learner to the lesson and much more.  Then, I like to get them moving before they have to sit and do an activity.  Counting jumping jacks or hops supports the skill of counting while getting their blood pumping.  In kindergarten, it is so important for students to have a strong foundation of numbers in order to prepare them for many life skills and their school future.  Here are some fun and cute printables to help guide your students to understanding counting and cardinality.numbers-1-10-chicken-egg-square

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