Teaching Thanksgiving to Kindergarten

Pilgrims and Thanksgiving

I love teaching in November!  I know that I have so much to be thankful for this time of year!  Young students should learn about Thanksgiving by focusing on being thankful, spending time with family, the First Thanksgiving, and the Mayflower Voyage.  You can even teach about teamwork of how the pilgrims had to work together to build a common house.  Every year I would perform a Thankful Festival for parents.  The performance focuses on being thankful, family and the feast.  I use music by Jack Hartmann.  He is my favorite children’s musical artist! We invite the families in to see us sing songs, and eat together.  Sometimes we do traditional food, but  I’ve done breakfast instead, if the timing of the show was early in the morning.

I use this time of year as an opportunity to talk about family traditions, sharing, cooking together, and teaching where food comes from.  Of course there is always the traditional turkey hand print that goes home every year and other turkey crafts.  I like to invite guest readers during this time too.  The holidays can make students a little excited, so a fresh new voice reading a book usually is just what the Dr. ordered to keep their attention.

School Plays for Children - Thanksgiving Activities

Turkey Craft Table Centerpiece

Turkey in Disguise Family Project

By far my favorite home project all year is Operation Disguise Turkey! We send a letter home with a turkey printable for the family to help disguise the turkey so it is not on the table for Thanksgiving.  Students also have to write a few sentences about the disguise.  The families are always creative! My son made his into a dog.  My daughter made hers into a vampire. Yes, a vampire.  I guess she still had Halloween on her mind.  The projects make a great conversational piece during the celebration with the family.

My Daughter’s Disguised Turkey

Turkey in Disguise Project  

Great Turkey Stories

I have two favorite turkey stories I read during Thanksgiving.  Turkey Trouble and A Plump and Perky Turkey.  Students compare and contrast food, write about how to trick a turkey, summarize, practice comprehension, and learn new vocabulary words with these stories.  If you have not read these adorable books,  I suggest you buy the books or find it at your local library.  They are my “Must Haves” for November.

A Plump and Perky Turkey Lesson Plan on Summarizing and Activities

Thankful for Teachers Giveaway

Teacher Giveaway

Attentions Teachers and Educators, here is your chance to win part of $500.00 of Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards!  What would you buy with it, if you win?  I know many teachers are wanting to find some science and social studies curriculums to help cover what is not being provided for them in the classroom.  Here is your chance to win in this teacher giveaway.  Just CLICK the links to the different teacher authors TpT stores, follow, write the follow number in the action box and click enter.  The more you follow, the better your chances are at winning.  Good Luck!

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Refer other educators to increase your chances to win daily! Raffle Ends at 12:00 AM EST Tuesday. (11/13/18) The lucky winners will be announced by 11/14/18. #ThankfulforEducators

You must be a teacher or educational professional working in a school to win, and provide proof 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.

First Man: Apollo 11 Lessons for Kids

3… 2… 1… BLAST OFF! Apollo 11 was the first manned space flight to the moon where the first man walked on the moon.  It is the moment the whole world watched with wonder.  What was it like to walk on the moon?  What was it made of?  Would they be able to return back to Earth?  NASA has just started to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo’s Space Program which landed a dozen Americans on the moon. So, I think now is a great time to teach your students about the Apollo 11 mission.  The movie First Man also comes out October 12th, 2018.

Lunar Module STEM Activity

To really get students to engage in your amazing moon landing lesson, let them do a STEM activity.  The astronauts used a lunar module during Apollo 11 called the Eagle to land on the moon.

 Give students supplies and have them create their own lunar lander.  Some supplies to give the students can be plates, cups, packing tape, rubber bands, paper clips, tin foil, card stock and marshmallows.

The marshmallows could be used as shock absorbers or astronauts in the space craft.  They would have to create a module to safely get their astronauts home.  The space craft would have to have 4 shock absorbers, and two astronauts.  To test their craft, they would drop it from 4 feet.  If it didn’t land upright, they have to re-design and re-test their space craft. 

Free SPACEMAN for Writing

Read a book about Apollo 11.  Have students summarize it during writing.  For young students you can use these FREE “Space” man word spacers.  Just attach a Popsicle stick or pencil to the back of the spaceman.  Students can place it as a spacer between words, if they struggle with spacing skills.  Students can share their summaries with each other.

I am a huge supporter of guest speakers in the classroom, so why not ask a someone from NASA to Skype with your class.  They can do a little presentation about their job.  Then, students can ask questions.  Incorporate writing skills by having your students write good old fashion thank you cards.

Our solar system is so amazing.  The fact that we landed on the moon 50 years ago revolutionized our thinking about Earth, and it’s peers. Bring the excitement into your classroom this year by teaching about Apollo 11.  Who knows what the lesson may lead your students to discover!

Related Teaching Resource:

MOON LANDING APOLLO 11 K-2 Unit

 

Strategies for Teaching Comprehension

As if teaching the basics of reading is not enough, you are responsible for teaching the most important skill of reading… comprehension.  So your students can read.  GREAT! But, if they can’t understand what they read… Huston, we have a problem.  I always wondered when I would see posts that say, “If you can read this, thank a teacher” how many people can’t read it?  How many can read it, but still don’t understand what it means?  While looking at ways to improve your literacy instruction, try these 5 strategies to improve reading comprehension.

  1.  Activate Prior Knowledge
  2.  Questioning
  3. Analyzing Text Stucture
  4. Visualization
  5. Summarizing

When you use these five strategies, students will begin to comprehend naturally.  Activating prior knowledge is one of my favorite ways to engage students in reading.  Research has shown that comprehension improves when students are engaged.  What better way to engage students than to bridge their old knowledge with new knowledge? For example, if we are going to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, I might ask students to share stories of when they saw a caterpillar or when they felt really hungry.  You will notice that when one student shares a story, they usually all do.  That should not irritate you.  When students are all wanting to share their prior knowledge, YOU GOT THEM!

Of course improving vocabulary skills, fluency, phonics and phonemic awareness are ALL pieces to the puzzle when it comes to comprehension.  Teaching reading can be complex with all the skills needed to be competent readers. Using the five strategies suggested is a great way to ensure students are comprehending what they read.

Narrative, History, Dream, Tell, Fairy Tales, Book

Here are some free reading passages with questions for you to enjoy.

 

$1000 Teacher Giveaway

The MEGA Labor Day Giveaway is here! We have teamed up with some AMAZING TpT authors to bring you 5 SHOPPING SPREES just for TEACHERS! We KNOW your job is a LABOR of LOVE  and want to THANK YOU for your dedication to your students!

We will raffle off:
 5 $200 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Cards ($1000 in TpT gift cards)

Enter the raffle here: http://gvwy.io/ycgbefy

Refer your teacher friends to increase your chances to win daily! Raffle Ends at 11:59 PM EST on 9/7/18. The lucky winners will be announced by 9/9/18. #LABORDAYLOVE

💚 Good Luck to you and all your Teacher Friends!

You must be a teacher 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 or Teachers Pay Teachers. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of this page and not to Facebook or Teachers Pay Teachers. No Purchase Required.

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Setting High Expectations for Students

Setting high expectations for students, from my experience, always results in higher achievement. However, the expectations and goals need to be different for each student. There are usually groups of students who can achieve the same high goals, but having one high expectation for all students can sometimes leave other students feeling like failures. The key is to have different goals i for each student. Knowing all students can learn is a MUST in order for teachers to move forward in helping each student to improve.  This knowledge needs to be brought to forefront of your consciousness by staying aware of your words and thoughts, even out of the classroom. I’ve heard educators who claimed to know all students can learn, but then would utter the word “He can’t learn anything” while eating lunch in the teacher’s lounge. Some teachers indicate that a whole class was impossible to teach. We have all had students who seem like they don’t understand a concept, no matter how many different ways we introduce it to them, and then suddenly they walk in one day and POOF – they get it!  If the teacher had considered it too difficult, or had given up before trying a different strategy, the light may not have ever have switched on for that student.

Another valuable tool is how we communicate our expectations to students. Here are strategies used successfully:

1. Tell the students your expectations for the whole group, and then individually pull them aside to explain individual goals.

2. Find out as much as you can about their interests by taking surveys and asking questions.  Teaching students using their interests is one of the best ways to break through any intellectual block they have in academics or even behavior. For example, if a student loves boats, use boats in math examples, boat books or magazines for reading, and let them write about boats.

3.  Communicate your expectations to the parents in newsletters or parent conferences.  They can give you great insight to what the student’s interest levels are as well.

4.  Provide opportunities for students to work in groups to make discoveries.  Don’t answer questions, but instead lead them to make their own discoveries by asking questions and communicating to them that you know someone in their group will find the answer.  This may seem difficult the first few attempts, but once they get the hang of working together to get answers without the teacher, they will be hooked and not depend so much on adults for the answer. This is our main goal as educators. To create a learning environment where students are independent learners and teachers only play the role of facilitating, leading, and inspiring.

5.  Provide specific verbal encouragement all day. For example, “Johnny, I knew you could solve that math problem. Can you share what you found with the rest of the class?”  Students love to know they did something well and share with others.  Once you share their accomplishment with the class, you’ll notice the rest of the class will follow suit, and even try to do better than the example you shared.

6.  If your goal for a student is about behavior, use signed contracts with the student stating your mutual expectations.  If necessary, attach it to their desk for daily review.  The contract should state what the expectation is, how the student can achieve it, and what they will receive when accomplished.  You don’t need to give candy etc… but it is helpful to let the student choose their reward.  The reward system should be gradually removed once the student consistently demonstrates a pattern of the expected behavior.

Hawaiian Beach Themed Classroom Decor

If you have been following any of my social media, now is the time for me to tell you all about the inspiration I got from my dream vacation to Hawaii this summer! I really wanted to take the Hawaiian feeling home with me, so I used a lot of my own vacation photos and water colored images to create a classroom decor pack so ALL teachers can have that calm tropical feeling in their room all year. We visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation, so you will see a lot of pineapples in the resource. I spent a lot of my relaxing days under a palm tree by the ocean in Maui. It was my favorite spot! Check it out! The bundle has color word posters, name tags, a words wall, a calendar set, an alphabet line, banners, labels, binder covers and more! You can even edit a lot of the product to make it personalized for your needs! I’m very happy with how it turned out!

Classroom Beach Decor

Nashville TpT Conference

Okay, I know I told you all my next post would be about the Hawaiian Themed Classroom Decor Bundle, but I am so excited because I’m getting ready for this years Teachers Pay Teachers Conference in Nashville.  We are driving. (We=My Hubby and I)  He will keep busy with some friends we have there while I “work.”  Have I have told you how much I love TpT?  It has been the biggest blessing in my life.  So when I return, I promise to share more about the Bundle and the conference.  You can click HERE, if you want to peek at it.  Especially if you have going to have a beach themed room, you will love it!  It makes me want to jump back in the classroom. I’m not going to, but just a quick thought. 😉  Follow me on IG, or my FB page, if you want to see updates from the conference.  See YA’ ALL soon!

#TpTNashville18 BOUND

Hawaii Heaven Classroom Decor

I haven’t posted lately because I was on my dream vacation in Hawaii!  It was everything I imagined and more.  The pictures don’t do it justice at all.  Although Waikiki and Honolulu were a bit more commercialized than I expected, I found one island just amazing!  My favorite island was Maui.  If you love tropical vacations, like I do, it is an experience of a life time.  I live in Florida, so I’m use to the beach life.  The Road to Hana, hidden waterfalls, legends, Poke Bowls, caves, rain forest, volcano, spectacular snorkel spots,  and friendly locals made a magical trip for my family.  The trip hit the wallet a little harder than I expected even with all the research I did prior to the trip, but it was well worth it. Now, I have so many ideas for a new classroom decor!

Every corner I found inspiration for new #TpT products.  I took a lot of pictures  to create a tropical classroom decor pack that I can’t wait to see come to life.  So far I have made a Hawaiian themed Color Word Posters and a Word Wall Banner Set.  These will become part of a Hawaiian Theme Classroom Decor BUNDLE… COMING SOON.  Go check them out though, if you are thinking about a beach classroom theme for your classroom. One of our favorite hidden lunch places that we just happened to stumble upon is called The Garden Terrace at Kula Lodge!  Eat outside while enjoying the spectacular entire west side of Maui view.  They have an outdoor wood-burning pizza oven that my kids still talk about today!  Mama’s Fish House Restaurant was our favorite place on the island for catching a view of Maui’s amazing sunsets.  The food is absolute terrific!  You can find some of the sunset pictures in the new calendar pack I’m in the process of making that will be part of the set.  I rarely post pictures of my family on my blog, but here is one showing the beautiful sunset.

Check back in the future for blogs on the new Hawaii Themed Decor Sets that I will have up in my Teacher’s Brain store soon.  As they say in Hawaii… Mahalo!!!!

I realize some of you are not on summer vacation yet.  You may want to check out the blog post about End of the School Year Activities.

Father’s Day Coupon Book

Looking for something fun to do with your kids for Father’s Day?  Try this coupon book that looks like a matchbook.  It has ten coupons that the kids fill out saying what the coupon is good for, and a unique matchbook cover.  Ideas for coupons are included.  Some ideas are coupons for hugs, cleaning their room, breakfast in bed or washing the car.  Share any ideas you have for to make Father’s Day special.