Teaching Your Students About Civics and Government

Civics and government is a very important part of your kindergarten and first grade students’ education. Understanding the basics including rules and laws is going to be vital as they grow up and enter the world. Unfortunately, it can seem a little dry trying to teach it in a way that your students will find fun and interesting. 

To do this, you want to find engaging lesson plans for your students so they will not only learn the material, but really understand and retain it. The key is to make your lessons fun! This is especially important with any lessons you do for kindergarten and first graders. The more fun the lessons are, the more interested they will be, the more they will learn! 

I have you covered with my Civics and Government bundle!

This extensive resource includes nine full weeks of detailed lesson plans and everything you need for the entire unit. You’ll also get a home connection parent letter, American History Journal with a wordbank, a rubric for the journal, 9 interactive notebook pages, and posters for your classroom, 

This Civics and Government resource will cover:

  • Primary Sources
  • Sequencing events
  • Calendar Skills
  • Being a GOOD Citizen
  • Rules and Laws
  • Conflicts and Fair Decisions

Extras included for centers: primary source activity, months of the year (what comes next), sort the pictures activity (rules vs laws),  Tattle Tale Officer Activity (to teach your students the difference between being helpful and hurtful), big problem, medium problem, and small problem posters, and a Write the Room Activity (a great way to incorporate writing into your social studies lessons). 

I created this resource to make your life easier and take the stress out of lesson planning! My goal is that this resource will cover all standards and truly engage your students so that they learn and retain the lessons. 

Check out my tips for for social distancing while teaching here! 

civics and government
civics and government

 

Do you have any tips for making civics and government fun? Let me know in the comments below! 

civics and government

 

Back to School Teacher Giveaway

BACK TO SCHOOL FOR TEACHERS

The crucial role by teachers is magnified during these uncertain times. YOU are the unsung heroes! We have teamed up with other amazing teacher-authors to show you how much we appreciate and respect your hard work and dedications to students!
𝐖𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐫𝐚𝐟𝐟𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟𝐟:
❤️3 $200 TpTGift Cards using the Raffle Link
❤️1 Rolling Storage Cart with a SECRET Gift
What NEW resources will you buy if you win?

Enter the raffle HERE:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Raffle Ends at 11:59 PM EST 07/30/2020. The winners will be announced by 08/01/2020.
👉You must be an educator to win. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, or Teachers Pay Teachers. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of this page and not to Facebook , Instagram, or Teachers Pay Teachers. No Purchase Required.

Also read:

Engaging Students In The Five Senses

Teaching your kindergarten or first grade students about the five senses and how they use them to understand the world around them can be such a fun unit! There are so many ways you can get creative and hands-on in the classroom on this one. The best way to really engage your students in learning about the five senses is- you guessed it, letting them use them! Really let them smell, taste, feel, see, and hear during the activities.  

There are an enormous amount of activities out there that you could use to teach this. It can be overwhelming to decide what lesson plans to go with. You want something fun, age appropriate, and engaging, but that is also based on standards. 

With that in mind, I created an awesome, extensive five week long 5 senses activities unit! 

This resource includes 5 full weeks of lessons, a journal (a great way to integrate literacy and writing in your lessons), 5 mini books, posters, inquiry lessons, detailed plans and more! 

  • Week one, your students will explore and learn all about the sense of touch. 
  • Week two explore the sense of sight
  • Week three learn all about smell
  • Week four explore hearing
  • Week five explore taste

Additional Tips For Teaching The Five Senses

  1. Read books about the five senses. This helps give visuals and incorporate vocabulary into your science lessons.
  2. Get hands-on! Students love when they can get their hands dirty and really dive into an activity. Don’t shy away from it. There are so many cool ways to teach the senses. 
  3. Use the scientific method in your lessons. Check out my post on teaching the scientific method here! 

five senses

 

five senses

 

What is your favorite way to teach the five senses? Let me know in the comments.

 

Back to School Checklist and Tools for Teachers with Social Distancing in Mind

Back to School Checklist

This year is going to be different than any year we have ever taught before thanks to Covid-19.  The best thing you can do now is get a jump start on classroom organization.  I like to have checklists and a lot of teaching tools at my fingertips before I begin the school year in order for my days to go as smooth as possible.  The best advice someone gave me once was to always plan and if the plan doesn’t work in teaching, change the plan.

Checklists for Teachers

Here is a list of things you can add to your own checklist for this school year.  I have a free social distancing checklist download on TpT you can use if you don’t want to make your own.

  • Gather and organize classroom materials and supplies. (Include safety supplies, masks and hand sanitizer)
  • Distance seats from each student.
  • Make it a rule that kids need their own water bottle to keep kids out of the water fountain.
  • Create individualized bins for each student for supplies.
  • Prepare student name tags and/or student desk labels.
  • Organize your files.
  • Label all furniture in the classroom.
  • Create an emergency substitute folder.
  • Label textbooks, workbooks, and supplies.
  • Set up your grade book.
  • Make the first day of lesson plans very detailed.
  • Have rules for the NEW social distancing guidelines if you are in person.
  • If you are doing virtual or a blended version of both, create those rules.
  • Decorate your room to help students remember new safety guidelines.
  • Plan icebreakers for each day the first week of school.
  • Have a classroom calendar and schedule in the classroom.

Teacher Toolkit

In order to help you with all the new social distance guidelines and distance learning, I got together with some of my favorite teacher authors to bring you some teaching tools you can use in this Back to School Tools for Teachers! This is exciting because some of these are resources are way too time consuming for teachers to create.  There are a few freebies in the mix too.

Here are the resources for your Distance Learning Teaching Toolkit:

All About Me Google Slides | Star Student     Virtual Meet the Teacher | OPEN HOUSE | Google Slides

Social Distancing Greetings | Posters | Craft | Mini Books   Social Distancing Posters | Mini Book

Back to School Getting to Know You Project for Distance Learning   Social Distancing Coloring Book EDITABLE | Classroom Rules Coloring Book

Math and ELA Toolbox Distance Learning   Pen Pal Packet for Distance Learning

Back to School Distance Learning Activity - Reading Interest Inventory Survey   1/2 PRICE! Covid 19 Safety Posters and EDITABLE Desk Name Plates

Distance Learning Coronavirus | How to Talk to Young Children About the Virus  Teacher Planning Tool for Digital Organization

Distance Learning Animal Adaptations for Google Classroom  Emergent Readers | Back to School Staying Safe School Rules Booklet

Virtual Learning Behavior Expectations Posters| Distance Learning| Google Slides  Home School Calendar Toolkit

Also Check Out:

Teacher Tips for Returning Back to School Safely

Returning back to school safely is going to take teachers a lot of patience, tips and tricks this year! There are so many unknowns but I know for sure that being organized and clean are going to be play a big role in our Back to School routine.

Here are some ideas for you to think about this school year while planning!

Tips for Teachers Returning Back to School Safely

1. This hand sanitizer holder is pretty neat to place outside of the door.  Students use their foot to squirt their hands.  I have seen some great motion detected dispensers on Amazon too.

(Photo: Stephanie Deal)

2. This teacher is using individual yoga mats, plastic serving trays and individual bins for supplies to keep her students learning at a distance from each other.

(Photo: Kaycie Huffman)

3. Individual book bins are a MUST this year. Plan on using paper printable books or after a week, place the books on quarantine for a couple weeks before rotating them to the next student.

 

(Photo: Teaching Little Leaders)

4. If you are meeting students in person this year, teaching Distant Greetings are going to be important to teach that first week back to school.  Make a poster or sign to hang at the door for students to easily remember and choose their greeting and goodbye each day from a distance.

(Photo: Teacher’s Brain – Cindy Martin)

5. I love this idea! These are pillowcases turned inside out with individual supply bins inside.

(Photo: Mrs. Classroom Craziness)

6. If you are teaching virtual or in person this year, a virtual Meet the Teacher or Open House will make it easier for you to introduce yourself, the classroom and to get students to get to know each other virtually. Google Slides are perfect for personalizing and sharing with families.

7. Social Distance Posters are perfect for in the classroom to remind students of the new safety rules and procedures for the school year.

Also Check Out:

Science Lessons For Kids: What Is A Scientist?

Science is such an important part of elementary curriculum. We set the foundation for our students to understand important science concepts later on. Creating meaningful science lesson plans that students can really learn from is essential. 

A great way for students to begin to really grasp science and have a FUN, positive learning experience is to teach them how to see themselves as scientists. Putting themselves in a scientist’s shoes can really get their minds working and understanding the subject. 

What is a scientist?

I like to start the school year off with the first lessons focusing on what a scientist really is. A scientist is someone who observes, thinks and discovers how things work. A scientist has expert knowledge on a particular subject.

The next step is to move into what tools does a scientist use? Teach about safety equipment including goggles, gloves, and masks. Other tools you can teach include rulers, thermometers, measuring cups, beakers, hand lens, globe, etc. 

Next you’ll want to teach the scientific method. The scientific method is a way for a scientist to study and learn new things. 

Teach your students the steps: 

  1. Ask a question
  2. Gather information and observe
  3. Guess the answer or make a hypothesis
  4. Test your hypothesis
  5. Analyze your test results
  6. Make a conclusion

After covering this with your students, dive into some fun experiments! Plan to do lots of STEM activities to engage your students and make learning about science fun. Interactive notebooks are great for helping students collect data and easily integrate writing into your lessons.

To help make this lesson easy to plan, I created this What Is A Scientist 3 Week Unit! 

It includes 3 full weeks of detailed science lesson plans with interactive notebook pages, posts, and hands on activities that are fun and engaging for your students. Examples include gummy bear science, rainbow milk magic, and mixing primary colors to make observations. This unit is perfect for preK, kindergarten, 1st grade, or homeschool students. 

Science Lessons For Kids

science lessons for kids

Interested in a full year of science lesson plans? Check out my Science Curriculum Yearlong Bundle. For more tips, check out my post here.

What are your best tips for teaching science to younger students? Let me know in the comments!

 

Science lesson

Social Distance Greetings for Students

No-Touch Greetings for Students

Greeting students in the morning is going to be especially important this fall with a pandemic hanging around.  Welcoming students in the classroom is a great way to help students feel welcome and leave any problems they might have from home at the door.  Teachers want schools to open safely this year.  Social distance greetings for students can help with the transition from home to classroom.

Here are some no-touch social distance greetings you can do with your students:

  • Foot Bump
  • Jazz Hands
  • Namaste
  • Wave
  • Blow a Kiss
  • Bow
  • Curtsy
  • Wink
  • Peace Sign
  • Smile
  • Air Hug
  • Thumbs Up
  • Air Five
  • Air Fist Pump
  • Raise the Roof
  • Pretend to Tip Your Hat
  • Salute

How to Teach Distant Greetings

I would have students pick a greeting before they get to school to do at the door and an action for how to say goodbye.  These activities should be quick. You can make a sign that has the actions that hangs on the wall by the door for a reminder.  Hang posters and share other distance greeting activities to help students get in a routine of greeting each other.  I recommend having a few actions and then changing the activities out every month to keep them engaged. Create your own or check out Teachers Pay Teachers for some great resources already made for teachers.  Using Velcro will make it easy for teachers to change the greetings regularly.

Social Distancing Greetings for Kids

Jack Hartmann has a wonderful song to help teach how to greet someone without touching and remind students how to stay 6 feet away from others in the classroom.  Check it out! Thank you JACK!

Can Schools Open Safely in the Fall

Not My Regular Kind of Post

I’ve been waiting to hear from our government about the guidelines and plans for opening schools this fall so I could make an informed decision.  My number one priority IS the safety of my children, family and community.   I watched the Secretary of Education on an interview today. NO PLAN being their PLAN made my blood boil!

Lucky?

I’m lucky. I have the option to NOT send my kids back. Not everyone has that option. This will leave the working poor forced to send their kids back to school, putting their neighborhoods at a greater risk. It’s tantamount in my opinion to ethnic cleansing. Huge profits for private schools.

I WANT to OPEN Schools

We need to open in my opinion because…

  1. Education is not the same online
  2. Social skills are important
  3. The economy will suffer and is important to mental health

BUT, if we can’t do this safely, don’t do it at all! In a matter of months the public went from “Teachers are underappreciated, we should pay them triple!” to “Get in the classroom to WATCH the children so we can get back to work, even if it kills you.” Children must receive vaccinations to enter most schools, yet we are allowing this???!!! All of this is falling on the individual schools and teachers with no help from the people who are in positions to make a real difference from the top down.

Scientific Data

The general public doesn’t believe the data available because HONESTLY, it is flawed. Teachers teach science. We know how important data collecting is and if it’s flawed, we need to fix the way we collect data. Scientist still observe the flawed data to make decisions of how to make corrections for future data to be more accurate. We don’t ignore the data.

Thoughts or Solutions?

I know that teachers have it hard when thinking about Back-To-School! Worrying about their own families and careers while having to solve this HUGE MEGA problem without help from officials who have access to information to make intelligent suggestions for real lifesaving solutions.  Many know if they make a big stink about how they feel, they could be out of a job, so they are silent. Please feel free to leave comments or send me an email at cindy@teachersbrain.com so I can be your voice without using your name about your concerns or maybe some REAL solutions to how we can open safely.

 

Meme about Betsy DeVos Having NO PLAN for ReOpening Schools

Tips For Your Back-To-School Open House

Back-to-school Open House night is very exciting for students and their parents because after a long summer, they finally get to go and see what the new school year will be like and meet their new teacher. For teachers on the other hand, it can be a little stressful, especially if talking in front of groups of adults makes you a little nervous! This is completely natural. These are people you are going to have a relationship with for the next school year and you want to make a great impression, while not showing how nervous or overwhelmed you might be. 

Your goal for an Open House is to meet your students and their families, establish rules, explain how your classroom will run, and most importantly, make a great first impression! This is a huge day for everyone. The key to a smooth open house is to make sure you plan ahead so you are prepared and make sure there is plenty for the parents and students to do besides just talking to you.

Here are some tips to make your Open House night a success

  • Have a slide show ready for the parents to watch. Include in your presentation a little about yourself, what they can expect for classroom structure and routines, rules, and expectations. This is great because it not only saves you from having to do a lot of public speaking, but it also helps set the tone with the parents from the start so you are all on the same page. 
  • Take family photos of each child with their family. This can be a fun way to help break the ice and get to know your students and their family. You can use these pictures in fun crafts with your students later in the year. You can even use them in some classroom decor to help your students feel more relaxed and comfortable when they start the school year and see a picture of themselves with their family. 
  • Set up some fun crafts and activities for the students to do with their families. This will help build excitement for the actual school year and it may ease some of their nerves. 
  • Have volunteer sign-up sheets set out for parents. Trust me, this list will come in handy later when you need help with classroom parties or activities. You’ll have a list of parents ready to go! 

 

Don’t get too overwhelmed. I created some fun Open House activities to help make the whole night easier for you!

All About Me Mini Me People Activity

These printables will help personalize a little mini me for your students to make during Open House. You can also use them for measurement or All About Me Projects. Students can design their own shirt, use their own colors, cut, paste together, and add yarn or doll hair to help make their Mini Me special. Open House

Open House Scavenger Hunt

This is an easy way to help your students show their families the important locations in the classroom! Use these print and go templates or personalize it with the editable PowerPoint!

Open House

All About Me Printables Back-To-School Quilt Squares

Quilt Squares are a great way to get to know your students! After children fill out the squares, you can hang them up to make a cute quilt type display in your room. Put a border around and some ribbon on all four corners to make it extra cute for Open House. There is a suggested plan and a blank one you can use for any topic.

Open House

Back To School Toolkit

This back to school toolkit has everything you could need for your open house and the rest of the school year! It has student information sheets, open house sign in sheets, student passes, parent sign up forms, class rules posters, name tags and so much more. 

Open House

 

Do you have any tips for your back to school open house? Let me know in the comments! 

For some first day of school activities, check out my post here!

Open House

 

 

 

 

Social Studies Activities for Kindergarten or First Grade

Planning a fun and engaging social studies lesson for kindergarten or first grade doesn’t have to be hard or stressful. Finding the right resources that are fun for your students, low prep, and easy for teachers can be a game changer. 

That is why I created this year long social studies curriculum bundle to help make your life a little easier. It can be used in school or at home for distance learning. It is made up of four nine week long units to engage and excite your students to learn more about social studies. 

Here are the subjects included in the social studies curriculum bundle

American History: In this unit, you can set up the lesson plan activities as an American History Journal or hand them out individually. This unit covers past, present, holidays, presidents, American symbols, and more. 

Geography: This unit includes a fun Geography Journal. Some of the lessons included cover positional words, personal information, landforms, bodies of water, and cardinal directions. An interactive notebook is included along with a write the room activity where students can label the classroom using cardinal directions. 

Civics and Government: This 9 week lesson plan includes a Civics and Government Journal and interactive notebook pages for each day of the week. Topics cover primary source, chronology, citizenship, rules, laws, conflict, and fair decisions. 

Community Helpers: This unit includes detailed plans for nine weeks. You’ll get a Community Helpers Journal, interactive notebook pages, 12 posters, songs, crafts, and more. Activities to keep your students interested include cut and label poems, hat or headband crafts, and handprint gifts. It even includes an invitation for parents to be guest speakers in class!

Bonus Content

Along with a full year of social studies curriculum for kindergarten and first grade, you also get some bonus content too. These bonuses are designed to supplement your lessons and increase student success.

Money: One week plan for teaching students all about money. Includes a Money Journal, lesson plans, posters, and a rubric. 

Needs & Wants: A one week plan to teach your students about the difference between needs and wants. Included are posters, interactive notebook pages, and a Needs and Wants Journal. 

This year’s long social studies bundle was designed to take the stress out of lesson planning for you. Check it out here! 

What are your favorite ways for engaging students during their social studies lessons? Let me know in the comments below!

social studies activities

 

Check out some first day of school icebreaker ideas here!