Brevard Times SHAMES Teachers Attending Educational Rally

Brevard Times, a Florida newspaper, posted the names of teachers who have used paid PERSONAL leave to attend a rally Monday in order to gain support for our education system. They accuse these teachers who advocate for students of “skipping work” and not providing “adequate supervision.”

These teachers who dedicate their lives to their students are not skipping work! They are using PERSONAL leave to fight for their students’ futures. They planned this in advanced with the approval of their school district. Teachers who put their careers on the line to make the Department of Education listen are heroes in my book! They are not going to the beach for the day. They are not spending quality time with their family on a vacation. Matter of fact, these teachers are going to have to leave their family just to attend. They are crying out for help in the classrooms and for their profession. If there weren’t problems in Florida’s education system, there would not be a huge shortage of teachers.

What was the purpose of the newspaper putting some of the names of the teachers attending in their paper? The paper says, ” Parents can then follow up with their child’s school to ensure that their child has adequate supervision during the school day on Monday.” Not every teacher attending is on the list.

This is a sick way to bully our treasured teachers by violating their privacy. If you plan on calling the school to find out about “adequate supervision,” consider calling to say THANK YOU to these teacher heroes and schools for supporting your child. If you are going to read their names, read them because they are honorable.

Did you know that Florida ranks 46 in the nation for teacher pay? There is a shortage of teachers not just because of the pay, but the lack of respect and resources for students. Newspapers like Brevard Times are part of the problem for not supporting their teachers in their county. It is important to point out that the school district has been very supportive of their teachers. It is Brevard Times who has failed the community.

SUPPORT THESE TEACHERS and let Brevard Times know they are the ones who need to be shamed!

FREE 100th Day of School Activities

The 100th Day of School is one of my favorite days of the year to celebrate! Students make necklaces with 100 Fruit Loops, play math games that equal 100, stack 100 cups to make a pyramid, make trail mix using 100 pieces of food and do 100 jumping jacks! I would request parents to send in free items for that week, if needed. My new favorite thing is the 100th Day Escape Room! There is a primary escape room and an upper elementary escape room. Students watch a quick video hook that has a mystery to solve involving saving a crime fighting pup! Students solve mysteries to escape open a box of surprises and escape their classroom to recess or the library! Sometimes, I couldn’t afford to purchase fun activities so I would search all of TpT’s FREEBIES.

100th Day Escape Room for Kids

If you are like me, you are always looking for some resources to add to fun celebrations that are easy on the wallet or FREE. This is why I teamed up with other TpT authors to give you FREE TEACHING 100th Day Resources at your fingertips! Click the photo of what you would like to download from TpT. Don’t forget to let the authors know how much you appreciate their hard work in your feedback on the product in their store so they are encouraged to keep producing freebies for you. Have fun!

FREE 100th Day of School Printables

100th Day of School Activity MOBILE FREEBIE
100th Day of School Activities Color by Number & Writing Pages FREEBIE
100th Day of School Writing Prompt (Before I'm 100 Years Old, I Want To...)
FREE 120th Day of School | Read and Color to Follow Directions and Math
FREE 100th Day Mini Activity Page Series Pack {Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs}

Click here for MORE 100th Day of School Ideas!

Math Centers for Kindergarten

Math “Salad Bar”

When I was teaching kindergarten, I attended a conference where someone talked about keeping a “Math Salad Bar” as a way to organize your manipulatives. You would take your manpulatives and keep them labeled and in one spot so students could easily find what they needed for a math task. I decided to take that idea and put it on steroids! I created recipe cards (task cards), used bowls for them to collect their materials, bought cafe trays and even had a rolling cart that the kids would roll to the middle of the room to begin the math centers.

Student Choice Works

Students would pick a recipe card that had the list of materials (ingredients) to complete their math activity. The card would say how many people it serves. The student picks partners if required. That group goes anywhere in the room to complete their activity. I would have several ways for students to learn one concept. So even though they all were working on the same standard, they were doing something different. They loved being able to choose their activity. My job was to observe, solve conflicts (which was rare after the first week) and take data on who needed more help in different areas.

Kindergarten Subtraction Math Centers

Math Center Problems

When we first began kindergarten math centers this new way, there were a couple issues to iron out. The main issue was how some students would react negatively if they were asked to join the activity. The person I called on would got to ask for people to join the activity, if needed. Some students were not happy about being called by certain students and it made a great discussion about feelings during circle time. After a week of students seeing that I would rotate who got to choose their task first, and talking about how sad it makes someone feel if you are rude when they were happy to pick you, they really took off and were begging for our Math Salad Bar time. Matter of fact if they had to do a traditional lesson and work alone, they were not happy about it.

Try these 3 center activities for FREE.

Why Kindergarten Math Centers?

You can still teach whole group lesson right before centers. Math centers frees you up to learn about what your students are learning. One task card is for the teacher to use called Teacher’s Table. This is where you can hand it to a couple students who you see are struggling with a math skill for remediation at your table. I never use the entire center time for remediation so they get some time to do an activity. If students finish one activity, they clean up and pick a new “recipe” card. There are assessments for the students for each nine weeks, data recording sheets to share with families and detailed plans for set up with suggestions.

What is Stopping You

What is stopping you from having math centers? I promise, if you try this you WILL LOVE IT!

Find the yearlong bundle here:

Kindergarten Math Centers YEARLONG BUNDLE

Watch a tutorial VIDEO about my set up here: How to Set Up Math Centers for Kindergarten

If you need EVERYTHING to teach Kindergarten, you can get the Kindergarten Curriculum which has ALL SUBJECTS Bundled for the entire school year. Homeschoolers love this bundle!

Do you do anything special for math to celebrate the 100th Day of School? Read about my ideas.

Sight Word Activities for Kids

What are Sight Words

Sight words are words that appear frequently in reading and writing.  Most of the words are learned by sight and cannot be easily sounded out.  When students automatically know these words, they can focus on more difficult words that can be decoded.  The more students see the words and use the words in activities, the more successful they will feel and be at reading.  The words begin simple and get more difficult the older students get or as their knowledge advances.  Provide students with both home and school activities to get the words to create automaticity.  These engaging activities will help students recognize the words, improve reading skills and show students how much fun they can have while learning to read.

Shaving Cream

This one is easy, helps clean desks and the students LOVE it!  Add some shaving cream to a table for students to spread around.  Call out sight words or have students pull sight words out of a bag to have students write the words in the shaving cream.  You can do this in small reading groups as well.

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Pudding?

When parents ask what they can do at home, consider having them add pudding to a sheet pan.  The parent calls the words out.  The child will write the words in the pudding.  If they get it correct, they get to lick their finger! YUM!

Fly Swatter

If you have a word wall that is low enough for students to reach, this is a great game for your students.  Word walls are a MUST in elementary classrooms because there are so many great activities a teacher can do with words. Create two teams. Each team gets a fly swatter.  Call the word out and the “swatters” have to go swat the word on the word wall.  The team who swatted the correct word first, gets a point.  Play to 10 or 20 points.

Sight Word Necklace

My students loved to have sight word necklaces.  Basically they would have a ball chain necklace that could open easily. Once they knew a sight word, they would add the word to their necklace to share with their family at home that weekend.  Students would use the necklace during writing activities too.  Have them use the necklace to find their words in books during center time or small reading group time.

Long Pins

Paint It

Have students work pull sight words out of a box.  They would write the word.  Then, they would paint the word next to the word they wrote on paper.  They could use watercolors.  You can even use chalk instead of paint.  Want to have students think a little deeper about patterns?  Tell them they have to do every other letter a different color to create an AB pattern. Grab the FREE Sight Word Download Here.

Sight Word Practice Printables

STAMP IT

Find some letter stamps for students to work on spelling sight words using the stamps.  This will help with fine motor as well as spelling.  Provide some different color stamp pads for students to use during this activity to keep it interesting.

USE IT

This is a great way for students to build some comprehension while working with sight words.  Students will first write the word.  Next, they will have to use it in a sentence.  This way you can check to see if they understand what they are reading or see if they make need to be taught the meaning of the words.

STOMP it!

Print out the sight words you want students to learn for the week.  Scatter them on the floor.  Another student calls out a word while their partner STOMPS on it.  This is a great activities to do at home or in small groups. Need more activities? Click HERE

Hopefully these activities will give you some ideas when planning for future lessons using sight words.  I can’t wait to hear about your favorite activities for teaching high frequency words in your classroom!

Christmas FREE Printables and Lessons for Kids

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The holidays are a really busy time for everyone, but ESPECIALLY teachers! This is why I teamed up with some great TpT authors to give you FREE TEACHING CHRISTMAS Resources at you fingertips! Click the photo of what you want to download from TpT! Don’t forget to let the author know how much you appreciate their hard work in your feedback or blog comments so we are encouraged to keep the freebies flowing! Have a great holiday season!

FREE Holiday Printables

Christmas Activities | 3D Tree    POLAR EXPRESS Activities Color Sheet NO PREP Fun for Winter  Free Christmas Cards    Winter Math Worksheets Free

    Snow Globe Narrative Writing Freebie   Free Number Sense and Number Gift Coloring Game!

 

'Twas the Night Before Christmas- I Have Who Has {Freebie}   FREE Christmas Multiplication Activities

Making Ten to Add  Holiday FREEBIE Mega Math Practice CCSS 1.OA.6A   Hanukkah  FREE

Christmas Ornament Poem (to put on an ornament)   Christmas Memories Ornament

 

Christmas Gift Craftivity or Bulletin Board for Kids

Paper Bag Gift Book

Making gifts for parents in the classroom is something I always struggled with as a teacher until I started making gift waffle books. They make a great decoration for the bulletin board and then, you can send them home for student o give to a parent or loved one as a gift for the holidays.

Here are the directions:

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You can even use wrapping paper on the front cover to make it look more like a gift with some fancy paper. Coupon books that promise rooms getting cleaned, massages or some other special action on the part of the student make a nice touch inside the gift bag book.  There are 10 different pull books to choose from for the holidays, birthday or even a blank template for students to create their own.

Bulletin Board Set

Add a cute title the a bulletin board to create a cute display for the holidays.  This helps serve two purposes… a display and a gift to send home! Parents love them and students enjoy creating the craft.  Place decorative bows on top for an extra special touch.

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Find the printables HERE.

Veterans Day Ideas for Classrooms

We all want students to do some meaningful activities to learn about veterans. You can still have fun and create engaging activities to get your students to see how important veterans are to our country.

Veterans Day Activities

I remember teaching first grade and just showing a movie about veterans around Veteran’s Day, but then I created an escape room for primary classrooms. The students were 100% engaged! They were learning and didn’t even know it! Students worked as a team to solve clues about veterans, opened a box and escaped the classroom to recess. They went home and talked about it to their parents.

Veterans Day Activities - ESCAPE ROOM

During the rest of the week, I had students make pennants to display in the classroom. A veteran was invited to come speak to the classroom. She took questions from the students. During centers, students created a Veterans Day layered book and wrote about why veterans are so important to our country. We discussed how we should treat veterans.

Students can make a KWL chart at the beginning of the week to show what they know and what they have learned at the end of the unit. Venn Diagrams make a great way to help students identify the difference of Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. These two days are confused easily. Memorial Day honors the military personnel who died while serving. Veteran’s Day honors the persons who have served.

Escape Room

Halloween Escape Room

If you have never planned an educational escape room with your elementary students, why not try one this Halloween? You will find that the students are all engaged, excited to learn while solving clues and discover how to work as a team without a lot of direction from you. It takes about 45 minutes to set up the materials. This Return the Pumpkin Escape Room Mystery is designed with your K-2 students in mind! The download is editable so you can tailor it to your needs, or just print and go!

Hook Them Early

First, a video story creates a “hook” for engaging the students in the mystery right off the bat! Students will have to find their classroom pumpkin that Willie the Werewolf stolen. The video is only a few minutes long. The video will tell you to press play so you can read the first clue, but then you can press play to have some background mystery music while the kids use teamwork to solve the mystery and open a box to escape the classroom!

Halloween Escape Room Mystery for Elementary Classrooms

Each escape room provides 3 clues for students to solve. The average time for them to be able to beat the clock is 40 minutes. This classroom escape room has students finding bags of letters to form words. Students are encouraged to help each other. Not just their own team, but the other team too because they can’t open the box without both keys. Paper keys provided, so no need to buy real locks.

Once student solve all three clues, they will find the missing class pumpkin, receive a prize from the box and escape the classroom to a monster dance party, recess or the library. You get to choose!

Check out The Magical Teacher using the Halloween Escape Room in her classroom! She shows you how to add that special teacher magic that only a great teacher can bring to get maximum engagement!

Why use escape rooms in the classroom?

Break OUT rooms or Escape Rooms encourage teamwork, academic skills, problem solving and require students to listen while following directions. Then there is also the incredible engagement aspect it provides. This is why many teachers like to use them for their evaluations.

Related Products:

☀️ Escape Room Sight Word Mystery Video Tutorial

Creating Classroom Routines & Relationships

Classroom Routines

Having a consistent morning routine will help students to begin their day knowing what is expected before they get to school.  There should be a morning greeting at the door. This will dissolve any anxiety a student may feel in the morning about entering your classroom.  I had two morning routines in kindergarten that lasted a week to keep them from getting bored.  One week they would work in morning journals that reviewed concepts learned during the week.  Then the next week, there would be hands-on manipulatives for students to practice math skills.  Something simple for them to pick up and do on their own, like puzzles or tangrams. Positive morning routines will help set the tone for the whole day.

Morning Greeting and Good Bye Posters
Free Morning Greeting Posters

When students have a regular routine, several things happen:

1. Students feel safer and happier when regular routines are established in their lives.
2. Their learning improves.
3. Students develop independence, so it makes it easier for you to help other struggling students.

The next questions that many teachers have is “What should I have them do in the morning when they stagger in at different times?”
There is no absolute answer to this question, but here are a few ideas:

  • Use a composition book for students to draw or write about choice topics each morning for a week.  Then, slowly get them ready for writing on topics you choose that lead to them sharing their opinions.
  •  Let students work in morning work themed journals that review math and literacy skills.
  • Here is a link to a Kindergarten Morning Work Freebie.
  • Let student take care of personal business, like talking to classmates, putting items away, going to the bathroom, reading book and maybe placing their lunch tag on an appropriate chart.
  • Provide daily writing prompts for students in a journal to make it easy to grade and store.

Easy enough? You’ve got this! Feel free to email me back and let me know if you have any questions.
Grab the Writing Prompts FREEBIE – FREE Writing Prompts K-3
Related Product : Writing Prompts for the YEAR K-3

ROI = Return on Investment

What does this mean for a teacher? We need to invest time and energy into where we will get the biggest return.  Even though bulletin boards, fancy décor, and homework packets are great, they are not where you will get the maximum for student achievement.  I’m not saying don’t do them.  I’m saying spend less time on activities that don’t reach the highest academic achievement.  So instead of spending two hours on personalizing cubbies, spend 30 minutes.  Then, spend an hour and a half on planning for your small group activities.

Another great area to invest your valuable teaching time is in building relationships with your parents. Having a consistent communication with parents should be a priority.  A strong relationship with parents will help you have a successful school year.  Now with technology at your fingertips it is easier than ever! Using Class Dojo or Remind to send text messages or pictures is a great way to keep in touch with busy parents.  Weekly newsletters are perfect for not only letting parents know about their child’s week, but help you get materials into your classroom for future lessons!  Scroll down for a FREE Editable Newsletter Template!

When parents communicate:
1.  Students feel like their parents are invested in education.
2.  Reinforcement of class skills are increased.
3.  Parent involvement improves.

The next questions that many teachers have is “What if I have a parent who never reads my communication?”
Don’t give up!  Here are a few ideas:
• Send electronic and paper versions of your communication home.
• Ask the student to remind the parent to look at your communication.
• Pick up the phone and call them to let them know how valuable communication will be in the future.

You’ve got this! Feel free to email me cindy@teachersbrain.com and let me know if you have any questions.
Grab the FREE Newsletter Template HERE
Related Product : Behavior Chart (Editable)

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Johnny Appleseed Day Activities

Lesson Plans and Apple Activities

Johnny Appleseed is famous for planting apple seeds across land while exploring and having an adventurous life. For older students, it is fascinating to have them research his life and find out WHY he really planted the seeds. They can discover that the apples were used to make HARD CIDER because they were too small and bitter.

Younger students learn about his love of animals, his real name (John Chapman) funny personality and kindness. For twenty years, I have taught primary students about Johnny Appleseed. At the end of each school year I would survey my class and most classes remember the week we learned about apples!

Apple Lessons

Introduce Johnny Appleseed by reading a book about his life. Discuss the facts from the book. Share a video about his life because most students are visual learners, including a short video is a great way to hook your students into wanting to learn more. Then, have a different activity about apples during the week that will help them not only learn about Johnny Appleseed but the science of apples. Incorporate all subjects into your lessons. Here are some activities that are easy to plan, but hits standards:

  • Sort apples by color or a large graphing chart.
  • Make home-made applesauce. (My favorite easy recipe will be at the bottom of this post.)
  • Dissect an apple so students can see the seeds.
  • Make apple crafts!
  • Label the parts of the apple. (skin, flesh, seeds, stem, core)
  • Write a letter to Johnny Appleseed.
  • Count the apple seeds during math.
  • Incorporate the 5 senses by letting students smell and taste different types of apples.
  • Invite parents to send in apples. (I use these all week for the activities above.)
  • Have students think about their favorite color or flavor or apple. They can make a graph to see what kind was the class’ most popular.
  • Make apple glasses for students to use while reading about apples facts or apple books.
  • Have an APPLE PARTY! Invite parents to send in apples snacks to share with the class so students can see how many different ways apples are used for ingredients.

Here is my favorite EASY applesauce recipe!

First, peel the apples. Next, remove the cores out of all your apples, (you need about 1 apple per kid in your class) cube the apples and place them in a crock pot on high. Do this as a whole group activity in the morning. The room will smell SO GOOD!

I like to have parent volunteers cut up the apples in front of the students or just send them in already cut up in bags. Then, cut one apple to show them the inside and let the students pour the rest of the cubes into the crock pot. Finally, add about 1/2 a cup of Cinnamon Red Hots Candies into the pot. The red hots add some sugar and cinnamon flavoring. The red color makes the applesauce different and fun for the students. Even students who said they hated apples, eat it and LOVE IT. I leave it on high, mash it up with a potato masher later. About 30 minutes before you want to serve it (at the end of the day, so it had about 3 or 4 hours of cooking) let it cool off before giving it to the kids. It’s warm, but not hot. SO YUMMY!