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)

Follow me on TpT! (just click)

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!

Labor Day Teacher Giveaway

TEACHERS… STOP laboring over your lessons! Here is your chance to win a MEGA shopping spree to buy everything you need at TpT!

We will raffle off:
❤️A $500 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card ❤️
❤️A Kid’s GROWTH MINDSET JOURNAL –Learn Grow SUCCEED! By Brandy Thompson❤️

What kind of resources will you buy for this school year, if you are the lucky winner?

Enter the raffle here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9ada80e925/?


Refer your teacher friends to increase your chances to win! Raffle Ends at 12:00 AM EST Thursday (9/05/19) The lucky winner will be announced by 9/07/19.#LaborofLOVE


👉You must be an educator to win and provide proof by providing your school name and grade level within 48 hours after contacted or a new random winner will be selected.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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Classroom Themes and Transformations the Students Will LOVE

Pick a theme or color scheme that you will love all year!

Themed Classroom Decor

Camping Reading Area
Nicole Woody’s Camping Reading Area

Picking a theme that not only you love, but inspires your students to learn is one of the most important decisions for a teacher! Your classroom decor sets the tone for your students all year. Teacher’s want it to be warm, inviting, and materials to be easily accessible to the students. Keep your theme calm, yet fun. Nicole Woody’s camping reading area is warm and inviting! What student wouldn’t want to curl up with a good book in a tent next to a camp fire?

Create a STEM Area

If you love a particular subject, make sure you incorporate your favorite subjects in a way to make you feel happy and inspired. Not only will you walk in to your classroom with an instant feeling of happiness, your students will see your passion and follow suit! Check out Lisa Taylor’s STEM area for ideas in your classroom. She also creates amazing STEM products in her TpT store! It is bright, happy and screams “MAKE SOMETHING GREAT” with the way she organizes using accessible bins with various items. This also makes clean up a snap for students to easily put materials away.

Imagination

Amazing Classroom Decor
The Fairy Tale Teacher – Kirstian Bryant

Check out The Fairy Tale Teacher’s classroom where imagination meets blooms of color to engage her students and set a happy tone to the school day! Using your imagination to design your room is a great way to model for your students how they should use their imagination. Not sure what theme to pick? Consider leaving the room a blank canvas and let the students choose a theme and maybe even a class name. You can invite the students help create the decorations or help write a grant to obtain materials they want for their room.

Flexible Seating Board

Rikki Heyman
@MissHeymaninThird
Objectives in the Classroom

Rikki Heyman
@MissHeymaninThird

Bulletin Boards are the best way to spruce up a classroom! Rikki Heyman has utilized hers to make a “Smart Spot” and another to place her learning objectives, so students can clearly see the targets they should be aiming for during lessons. She said, “Creating a learning environment is a lot of work, but well worth the community I get to share it with…” Do you have a spot in your classroom for placing learning objectives? Her “Smart Spot” board is used for students to be able to locate flexible seating choices. What child wouldn’t want to be in this class?

Add Some Color

Michael Behrens

Michael Behrens

Sometimes all you need is some great colors to brighten up the walls of a dull classroom! I love the way this room utilizes colorful pompoms, blue hanging paper lanterns, various forms of lighting, and the cute chalkboard table stands. Adding pennants and lanterns are fantastic ways to transform a classroom into a positive environment for learning.

Don’t forget about your doors. They are the first thing your students will look at in the morning! Either decorate your door, or for younger students, have a choice for them to pick for a MORNING GREETING (Grab the freebie!) or GOOD BYE. If you don’t have time to greet the students in the morning, let that be a student’s job. It can change the mood of a student who had a rough start at home.

Travel the World

Tropical Classroom Decor
Teacher’s Brain -Cindy Martin Tropical Themed Classroom

Want to bring Hawaii with you into the classroom for the year? Use this tropical themed classroom decor set that includes watercolors and real photos of Hawaii. Decorate some palm trees for holidays. Create a warm environment by using bamboo, beach colors and tropical decor in your classroom. Students can relax in beach chairs in the reading nook.

Colors make a Difference

Paint Cans as Table Markers and Pencil Holders
Paint Cans as Table Markers and Pencil Holders
Paint Cans as Pencil Holders
Paint Cans as Pencil Holders

Find you local home improvement store to find paint color sample strips. This will help you pick some colors that really go together, if you want to transform you classroom without having a particular themed room. You can find empty new paint cans there also. Use the paint cans as pencil holders, flower pots, spray on some chalk paint to easily use chalk to write table numbers, and use the lids for students to practice tracing circles. You can spray the lids with the same black chalk paint, add a magnet to the back and write your class schedule on the lids. So many possibilities! Whatever you decide, make it feel like your second home, because that is really what your classroom is to you and your students.

TpT Site Wide Sale has STARTED

How can you get everything on your wish list? I will show you some ways!

It’s that time of year. Back to school is full swing when you see that TpT is offering up to 25% off of resources by using the cod BTS19 at checkout.

First, let me begin by telling you about my TOP 5 picks for primary teachers.

TOP 5 Teaching Resources

  1. The Mega Guided Reading Bundle is full of activities for K-3 students. It is geared for teaching reading all year for K-1, but certainly can help support struggling readers in 2-3.
Guided Reading Activities | Reading Blocks™   MEGA BUNDLE
Guided Reading Activities

2. Tropical Hawaiian Beach Classroom Decor Bundle – This is my favorite decor pack that was designed using real Hawaii photos and watercolor images. Why not have that vacation feeling all year long?

Classroom Themes Decor Bundles | Tropical Pineapples and Palm Trees
Classroom Themes Decor Bundle

3. This kindergarten and 1st Grade Science Bundle is a MUST HAVE for teachers who lack curriculum or support materials in science. One buyer referred to it as “Science EVERYTHING” in their feedback.

Science BUNDLE kindergarten and 1st Grade

4. Do you need something more for your students to practice writing skills? Check out the K-3rd Writing Prompts Yearlong Bundle. This has 12 monthly themed journals with writing prompts, practice with opinion, narrative, letter writing and more. Each prompt has a Self Check Rubric at the bottom of each page.

Writing Prompts  YEARLONG BUNDLE
Writing Prompts

5. Social Studies is another area that teachers lack materials for in K-1. The Kindergarten and First Grade Social Studies Bundle makes finding materials that meet the standards a SNAP! Also, there are journals, interactive notebook pages, home activities and crafts included in this mega bundle all hitting the standards.

Kindergarten & First Grade Social Studies Curriculum Bundle
Kindergarten and 1st Grade Social Studies Curriculum

TEACHER GIVEAWAY

I mentioned there could be a way to get all of you favorite TpT items. Check out the raffle going on UNTIL MIDNIGHT tonight for one lucky teacher to win $475 to Teachers Pay Teachers! They will pick a winner who can shop the sale tomorrow morning. Next, try checking your Teachers Pay Teachers account for previous purchases you might have forgot to leave feedback on because they will give you store CREDIT! (A lot of people don’t know about this FREE money.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Power of Visualization

Have you ever heard about how powerful visualization can be to help people with their confidence, business, or personal life? Well, there is science to back it up! One of my favorite examples of visualization was listening Jim Carey talk about seeing his future. He would visualize being successful in detail when he had nothing. It made him feel better. He wrote himself a check for ten million dollars and dated it for 1995 for acting services rendered. Years later in 1995, he found out he was going to make ten million dollars on Dumb and Dumber.

That is a perfect example of how powerful your thoughts can be to your real life.

Why don’t more of us use this tool?

I found many scientific studies that show that the brain doesn’t differentiate between a real memory and a visualized one. If you visualize an item, an action or moments, your brain chemistry actually changes as if it was real. Your mind records the memory.

Become Confident

I used this technique many times when I needed to build my confidence. One time I had to talk to someone I feared, so I visualized the conversation before it happened. I found that I dominated the conversation and had the outcome I desired. If I didn’t visualize it, it could have left the conversation open to the other person to dominate. I would bet that the outcome would have been different.

Visualization is a skill I used when I first became a teacher. I feared talking in front of students. Even reading a book in front of them caused me a little anxiety. I would practice in my mind. The emotion of joy would fill my body as I could see the students gaining understanding from my lessons and giggling at my tone. It helped me get through my first year. Repetition turned my fear into something that is as natural as breathing for me now.

The trick is to pretend like you already have what your are wanting and attach an emotion to the event. This will ease your fear and anxiety of an event you might feel dread about attending. It will boost your confidence about following through with something you may fear.

PROOF

Many studies show that using visualization is effective to improving skills. Some studies showed evidence of visualization being just as effective as real practice when it comes to improving skills. This is why athletes’ use it in their training. It works well!

HOW To Visualize

Here are the techniques that are effective.

  1. Close your eyes, mentally state your goal or your intention of the visualization.
  2. Imagine the situation or event with all of your senses.
  3. Place a STRONG emotion with the images. Feel as if it is real so your brain can record all the images while you feel the emotion.
  4. Focus on breathing calmly. Repeat the whole process until it is clear and easy to imagine.

I hope these tips for visualization are helpful for you to gain confidence, take control of your life and change your mindset to achieve your dreams.

Girl, Bed, Hair, Bedroom, Relax, Person, Indoors

Literacy Night Ideas

If your goal is to include families to be engaged in your family literacy night at school, you need to be creative. You will find some great ideas here. We will also focus on a Dinosaur Themed Escape Room that the entire school can participate in during Literacy Night. Here are some ideas, tricks and tips for a successful family literacy night.

Know your GOAL

First, you will want to think about what your main objective is for the night. Do you want to build family and school relations, connect the student with the parent, build and excitement about literacy, sell book fair books as a fundraiser or support parents with helping their children at home with literacy skills? Once you know your goals, it will help you think about your activities for the event.

Theme

Know your audience. What challenges will there be? Knowing your challenges ahead of time will help you prevent any mishaps during the night. Are there kids with needs, language challenges, or is it difficult to get your families to participate in school events after hours? Picking a great theme can motivate families to participate. Here are some theme ideas:

  • Camping
  • Reading in Pjs
  • Movie Night
  • Trunk or Treat
  • Superhero Books
  • Hollywood
  • Dinosaur Hunt Escape Room
  • Sports Jersey Night
  • Around the World

Activities

Selecting a theme will help you come up with some great themed activities. For example, if you are doing a camping theme, have tents up, have a special reading about camping, make s’mores at a station, a reading picnic or a photo booth with them catching a BIG FISH. The BIG FISH could be a book. All of the themes could have photo booths, professional storytellers, giveaways and stations full of literacy activities that include the parent.

Help and Reminders

Finally, sending home reminders regularly will increase the participation. Written invitations, phone messages, texts, calendars and emails are all great ways to remind families to participate in the Family Literacy Night. Most importantly, make sure you send a reminder home the day of the event. It helps to provide some incentive of a book giveaway that is high on the student’s interests meter or gift cards.

If you need help running stations, request parent volunteers. You can offer child care where a teacher watches siblings for the parents who are volunteering. You should encourage teachers to participate. One way is to let teachers know the theme, and let them pick an activity they would like to do with families. It doesn’t hurt to offer an incentive to the teacher volunteers either.

Dino-MITE Escape Room for Literacy Night

Kids love dinosaurs! What better way to get parents engaged with their children than an Escape Room with a dinosaur theme that they all can enjoy. Even teachers have fun with this Literacy Night theme! This escape room can be used for literacy night or for a single classroom to reinforce sight words, blends, problem solving and teamwork. They will have to open a box with surprises to escape their room! No need for locks or fancy boxes either!

This escape room is editable, but it comes with two activities that are differentiated. Students will solve 3 clues in order to solve the mystery, find a baby dinosaur and break out of the classroom. There are step-by-step directions, but you can easily change things around to fit your needs. The sight words, blends and riddle are all editable, if needed. It takes about 45 minutes to set up, 30-40 minutes to solve all the clues and 10 minutes to clean up! You will find invites, homework passes, reminders and photos of the easy set up. Check it out!

Image may contain: indoor
Literacy Night Idea
Dinosaur Escape Room Teacher Volunteers for Literacy Night
Literacy Night Activity

Want to learn about how to set up your own classroom Escape Room? Check this blog out HERE.

Summer Practice for Kids

Activities for Kids that ENHANCE Summer

If you have ever worried about your kids suffering from summer brain drain, then there are some easy things you can do to keep them motivated to learn all summer.

Kids Reading, Relaxing, Kids On Vacation, Summer


Here is a list of things to tell children’s parents to do with your child at home:

Helpful Tips

1.Crack open a dictionary.  Ask them to find a hard word like, “integrity” in the dictionary. Then, have them explain the meaning to you.

2. Teach your child how to do the laundry.

3. Play a board game with your child.

4. Teach your child to set the table.  Have them count all the silverware.  Reinforce the “game” by offering desert for the right answer.  Continue with teaching them how to make a special dinner.

5. Children at any age love to paint! Give them water colors and paper outside. Let them go crazy with splattering/flicking paint on the paper.  If they have an outdoor playhouse, let them paint it with water colors.  When it rains, it come right off.

6. Encourage your child to tell you a prediction to an ending to a movie or story.

7. Tell your child they can only watch TV or play a video game if they can tell you the time on the clock. (not digital…) 

8. Encourage your child to do a garage sale with you or open a lemonade stand to earn a little extra money.  Tell family members to come visit so they can not only participate, but test them on giving change for items.

9. Father’s Day is often overlooked during the school year, so let your child make a project or go shopping for dad and give them a budget.

10. Ask your child to come up with words that rhyme and challenge them to make a rap using the rhyming words.

11. At bed time, ask your child to sequence the events of their day.

12. Create a new dance move or hand shake with your child. 

13. Do some wood working with your child, but letting them use a hammer and nails to build something like a birdhouse with your supervision.

14. Ask your child to show you a Jumping Jack, Push Up, or Skipping. 

 You would be surprised how many kids can’t do these tasks.

15. Use chalk outside to make Hopscotch. Teach them how to play.

16. Teach your child figure out how to play frisbee or tennis.

Summer Practice for Kids

Sending home summer practice packets for kids is a great way to keep kids actively learning all summer too!

Over 90 printables to review what students should already know from 4th Grade to practice on before they enter 5th Grade.  It has math, literacy, and writing activities.  There is a summer weekly journal for kids to write daily about their summer events.  Parents have suggestions and directions they can do to keep their kids prepared for the next level!

CLICK HERE FOR:

Related Products

☀️ End of the YEAR Summer Packet From 1st grade to 2nd

☀️ End of the Year Summer Packet For KINDERGARTEN to 1st Grade Review

☀️ End of the Year Summer Packet Pre-K to Kindergarten

☀️ Summer Packet for 2nd Grade to 3rd Grade

☀️ Summer Packet for 4th Grade to 5th Grade (NEW)