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

 

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! 

 

 

First Day Of School Icebreakers

The first day of school is one of the biggest days of the whole year. It is a day for meeting new people and first impressions. It is also the day you set the tone for what students can expect in your classroom. All of this newness can bring up a lot of emotions for your students. This is a day that they have been eagerly anticipating all summer. They probably stayed up late the night before, thinking about what is to come the next day. With all of the excitement and anticipation, there is sure to be a lot of nervousness too! 

Starting a new school year, with a new teacher, in a new classroom is enough to make anyone anxious. For this reason, the key is to spend the first day back helping our students feel important and comfortable in our classroom. 

A great way to do that is by having some FUN. Like the old saying goes, people will remember how you made them feel. Your students will remember how they felt in your class. Getting your students engaged in a fun activity can be a huge help in relieving stress and anxiety and help them feel comfortable and relaxed. 

One of my absolute favorite ways to do that is with Escape Rooms!

These fun interactive activities are all the rage right now. Students love them. You will easily be the most memorable teacher of your students’ life. 

That’s why I created this back to school escape room! You can use these step by step instructions to guarantee student engagement while they learn about each other and work as a team and solve a mystery and escape the classroom! With a little prep, your students will work as a team to break into a box, which breaks them out of the classroom as they beat the clock! This is a great way for ANY class to learn about their peers. 

Back to School Icebreakers

Included is a PDF file with step-by-step instructions, a link to incorporate a YouTube Video to HOOK your students into accepting a mission to break free from the Ice Queen. The mystery can only be solved by working through Icebreaker Challenges and using teamwork. Opening the box, (no locks needed) leads them to enjoy recess or a library break outside of the classroom. There are 3 tasks for the students to solve before they can break free.

Check out the YouTube introduction here! 

Looking for more first day of school icebreaker activities? Check out my Getting To Know You Fidget Spinner Activities. 

You can also check out more information on making your first day of school memorable here. 

First Day Of School Activities

What are your favorite ways to get your students to have fun on the first day? Let me know in the comments below!

Netiquette for Kids and Adults

Netiquette Guidelines for Online Learning and Communicating

First, let us look at the definition of netiquette.  Netiquette is the correct or acceptable way of communicating on the Internet. The core rules are to remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Your written words are read by real people who all are deserving of respectful communication.  Before you press send, ask yourself, “Would I be okay with this if someone else had written it?” or “Do I care if a room full of strangers hears these words?”

It’s important to remember netiquette varies from domain to domain.  Depending on where you are in the virtual world, the same written communication can be acceptable on one domain, where it might be inappropriate on another.  KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE is something that will help you with communication just like if you are in the real world.

Respect Others

You should respect others and make yourself look “good” online.  One of the BEST and WORST things about the virtual world is you will be judged on the quality of your writing. Always check for spelling and grammar errors, know what you are talking about, state it clearly and most importantly be polite. Some sites have their own type of language due to limiting text or site terms.  Before you participate in a discussion on a new site, take time to research that site’s slang or acronyms.

Don’t abuse your power or feed the flames.  If you see a lot of angry posts being exchanged, don’t jump in and be hateful with others even it they reflect your same feelings.  Think about how you can respond in a way to make the conversation more productive and extinguish future angry postings. In addition, angry postings usually don’t change people’s minds.  As a result, negative posts can close off a conversation that could have ended with a deeper understanding of both sides.

Forgiveness

Be forgiving of other people’s mistakes.  Not everyone has the same experience in the virtual world.  Some people don’t know netiquette.  You will see stupid questions, misspelled words, cyber bullying and hate filled comments.  If it’s a minor “offense,” you might want to just let it go.  If you feel compelled to respond to a mistake, do it in PRIVATE, not on a public forum to avoid cyber bullying.  I know I have posted spelling errors in the past and really appreciate a kind private message.  I have seen memories pop up about how I felt years ago and don’t feel the same way today. People change all the time.

CONTROL YOUR ZONE

Don’t be afraid to block people.  Each domain has different ways for you to snooze, block, hide, report or delete comments.  USE THEM.  You do NOT have to attend every argument you are invited to. Especially when we know there are trolls who are there just to instigate cyber fights. Think before you respond.

Here is a list of my TOP 5 Netiquette topics I share with kids and adults who are on the internet:

  • Cyberbullying is saying something to purposefully scare, injure, or hurt another person or ruining someone else’s reputation.
  • RUDE LANGUAGE  – Using curse words, or calling names is not using good manners.  Dirty jokes are not acceptable.  Use kind words.
  • CAPITAL LETTERS – USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IS YELLING!
  • Laws – If it is illegal to do it outside the internet, it’s illegal on the internet. Think before you type.
  • Sarcasm is a source of plenty of misguided arguments online.  What seems like a joke to you is not to others. Be polite, respectful and direct when communicating. Of course, if you are in a private area with someone who knows your personality you can get by with more.  Remember to know your audience.

What do you do if you are a victim of cyber attacks or negative comments?

  • If it’s a crime, call 911 or if you are a child tell an adult.
  • If someone is hopeless or suicidal contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • A child is being bullied in school, contact the teacher, counselor, principal or parent.
  • If the school doesn’t respond, contact the superintendent, State Department of Education or Department of Justice.
  • If it is offensive, don’t respond.  Do report it to the site admin. Block the person and delete comments.  You are in control of your zone.

A great  interactive learning resource for educators and parents, Sammy’s Guide to Internet Safety. The guide teaches kids how to enjoy the internet safely while providing fun activities and games.

Will Education Change After The Coronavirus?

There are so many unknowns right now because of the spread of the coronavirus and it has turned everyone’s world upside down. Especially those in the education field. Our plans were all put on pause and we were sent home to start learning from a distance. It was a hard adjustment to say the least. 

Many teachers are wondering how we can possibly plan for a new school year with all of the unknowns. How is education going to change after coronavirus? Will things ever go back to normal? 

There are a lot of changes in education that will likely be happening soon

  • There will likely be a surge in innovations like live broadcasts and online learning. Our online learning system now was rushed and imperfect. Now that there is such a huge need for this, it will likely lead to more streamlined and easy ways for us to connect with our students from a distance.  
  • Private education may grow. There are many who won’t agree with the way that public schools are handling social distancing guidelines and that could lead to a surge in parents enrolling their kids in private schools. This means we might be seeing smaller class sizes. 
  • This experience will build resilience. This pandemic has forced us all to be adaptable and go with the punches whether we liked it or not. This will encourage more people to be creative problem solvers and work together more to reach our objectives. 
  • Budgets will change. School districts rely on state money which comes from taxes and income. Both of these sources took a hit with the economic downturn because of the coronavirus shutdown. This means that budgets for schools will be getting cut which could impact many facets of education. 
  • Everything will be more digital. People are already weary of any cough or sneeze so extra precautions will be taken wherever possible, including the way we teach. The use of distance learning and digital classes will likely increase in the months to come. 

Students are living history right now with the Coronavirus of 2020. It is a difficult time for them because of all the major changes in their life. Students can take responsibility to help protect the world by washing their hands, staying home when they are sick or using social distancing.

I created this 22 page memory journal to help them document their experience and focus on things they can control. 

education after coronavirus

For more information on how journaling in times of stress and uncertainty, check out my post here.

How do you think education will change? Let me know in the comments below!

How Journaling Can Help Students With Stress

Thinking about journaling with your students? Due to the effect of the pandemic, it is no surprise that stress levels are running high for everyone, including our students. Their school year was abruptly cut short, their schedules and routines were turned upside down, and  they have been cooped up at home away from their friends. They may also be feeling stress from the struggles their parents may be facing as a result of the stay at home orders across the country. 

While we may not be able to see our students in person, we can still try our best to help them cope with these strange times however we can. Studies show that journaling could be a great way to do that. 

Here are the ways that journaling can help your students cope with stress. 

  • Having your students write down how they are feeling can be a great way to clear their mind
  • It can boost their mood
  • It can offer a great distraction from the fear and stress many of them are facing 

You can find more information on how journaling helps kids here.

With this in mind, I created these journaling products that you can give to your students to help them through these difficult times. 

My Yearlong Writing Prompts Bundle for students in kindergarten to 3rd grade includes: 

  • 12 themed monthly journals
  • 365 writing prompts for every day of the year
  • Word bank for each journal
  • Writing rubrics 

My Coronavirus Living History Journal is designed to help students write about what is happening now during the pandemic. This includes: 

  • Pick and choose pages to print out and color 
  • 36 pages of activities and prompts to help students cope

Journaling To Help with Stress

You can find more information on journaling during coronavirus here.

These are unprecedented times which makes it a great time to start journaling with your students. It is a great way to help them face their fears while dealing with all of the uncertainty and ultimately improve their mental health. 

What stress relieving activities do you like to do with your students? Let me know in the comments!

Journaling To Help With Stress

Digital Award Ceremony – End of the Year Virtual Classroom Awards

End of the Year Activities

Celebrating accomplishments at the end of the school year is not only popular, but important to recognize student achievements.  Accomplishments can include more that academic success.  Recognizing improved behavior, attendance, athletics, character, art or music abilities are great ways to shine the spotlight on your students at the end of the year.

Distance learning has made it more difficult to celebrate our students with their friends and family.  But, it is not impossible! If you are an educator who is using Zoom, Google Meets or some other way to video conference your students, there is many ways to celebrate.

First, send and invite to the families and students for your virtual ceremony. If you normally give certificates to students,  fill them out as normal and then share them during the ceremony.  You can than email or mail them their certificate.

Don’t want to worry about printing out certificates?

You can create certificates in a PowerPoint or with Google Slides to share during your meet-up.  Then, just send them a copy through email.  There are lots of pre-made editable certificates available online also.

Planning a Virtual AWARD Ceremony

If you are doing your own planning for your classroom, grade level or even the entire school, here are some key elements to consider:

  • Introduction  Music
  • Introduction Slide to the Ceremony
  • Certificates (Titles and possibly add Images of each student)
  • Music during the show
  • Funny Moment Slide Breaks (A group photo or funny science moment)
  • Will there be a video or live announcement from you, a special guest or the principal?
  • Ending Music
  • Practice Practice Practice

Here is an example of how to create an end of the year virtual ceremony:

There are virtual award ceremony templates already made for you at TpT to make your celebration easy.  You just drag and drop text and images in the google slides.


Do you have an award ceremony for your students? If so, what types of awards do you give? Please leave your comments below, I would love to hear how you recognize your students.