Create an Escape Room for the Classroom

We all dread seeing our students falling asleep or wanting to escape the classroom out of boredom while we pour our hearts out teaching. Why not spice up your lessons with creating an educational escape room for your little ones?  I’ve seen my own children coming home so excited about the escape rooms or break out boxes that their teachers have created in middle school.  So, I had to figure out how to create this excitement about learning and teamwork in the elementary classroom setting.  It took me some time to wrap my head around how to make it easy enough for a 6 year old, but rigorous enough to meet the benchmarks.  Once I figured it out, it was like magic!

Here is an example of how to set one up in your room.  First, think of the topic you want to cover.  Let’s just say this escape room will focus on sight words.  Then come up with two fun tasks you would like the kids to work on together in order to get a clue.  For example, plastic bags full of letters that will create sight words that are hidden around the room, or a mystery picture to color using sight words to code the color of the picture.  My daughter says that the best part of her escape room experiences (besides opening the box full of treats), was the video they watched as a “hook” that explained a crazy situation of someone capturing them or stealing an item.  (Click HERE for an example of a video hook.)  So, keeping that in mind you can create a little video, or just make up a story.  I like to separate my students into two groups. Each time the students complete a task, they get the next clue inside of an envelope that I read to the class.  In this case, the class would use the plastic bags letters to solve sight words.  The next clue would lead them to maybe a mystery picture to solve.  Then, they get the last clue which leads them to find a key (either paper or a real one to a box) by reading a riddle for them to solve.  This riddle could have a code to open a lock that you placed on the box.  They will each need their key or code to open the box, which also opens their classroom. They will have to use their imaginations a little.  We don’t want to actually lock them in the classroom.  Then, once they open the box, I let the students “free” to go to recess or to get a book from the library.  Students are encouraged to work together to help each other solve the problems.  You could even add QR Codes, black lights, and magnifying glasses to your escape room to change it around for different lessons.  Students go home talking about how they found sight words to escape their room.  Designing an escape room yourself takes some time, but the benefit is well-worth it!

Be that teacher every student remembers because their lesson plans were so engaging with this Escape Room for K-1 focusing on Sight Words.

Primary Teacher Challenge

Do you like free resources?  Do you love to see what other teachers are doing in their classroom, but can’t because you are busy teaching?  Well, I have something fun for you! Go check out my Facebook Page.  Pinned at the top is the video (same video as below) of me explaining how to win free resources by simply sharing one of your fantastic lessons with the rest of us by snapping a quick picture and adding it to comment section with a sentence.  Go check it out to discover the criteria I’m looking for, and hopefully see some other teacher’s lessons for inspiration.  I can’t wait to see what you all are doing with the kiddos!

Winter Olympics 2018 in the Classroom

Are you ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics in your classroom?  It is such an exciting time to be in the classroom and to connect with your students with what they are most likely watching at home.  It is full of history, inspirational stories, and competition.  What’s not to love?  I’m so excited about the Winter Games this year!  Living in Florida, we don’t get to see a lot of snow here, but we love to watch it on television.  I made some Winter Sports Resources designed with your classroom in mind to help them make connections, learn the history of Olympic symbols and traditions, and to create classroom discussions. (Click the photo to LEARN MORE)

Winter Olympics new cover

winter sports interactive notebook cover

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Prevent Bullying in School #StandWithKeaton

So, I’m sipping my coffee watching GMA, when a story comes on called “Celebrities ‘Stand with Keaton’ to Support Bullied Boy with words of Encouragement.”  It is about a young boy’s emotional viral video with him telling his mom about being bullied at school.  His mother had to pick him up early due to him being bullied.  His emotional outpouring on camera just made me feel so heartbroken, but not helpless.  He said kids pour milk on him and put ham down his clothes.  They call him names and make fun of his nose.  This is so disappointing. I know as teachers, we are in the forefront of preventing children from bullying.  We can make a difference and protect these children while teaching others about kindness.  Keaton is amazing!  The end of the video, where he tells people to “stay strong” and thinks it will get better is absolutely inspiring! I stand with Keaton, and I hope you will too. Yesterday, I posted about bully principals.  Today we are talking about strategies you can use to prevent bully behavior in school.

  1. Practice What You Preach Some of the same bully principals I wrote about yesterday, preach about how teachers should have a zero tolerance for bullying. Stopping bullying begins at the top! Principals should have a zero tolerance and lead by example.  Some teachers are guilty of this also.  I know of children who were bullied by a teacher.  The teacher humiliated them in front of their peers, held their work up and called it “ugly” to the rest of the class. They even made fun of a student who stuttered while encouraging others to join in on the bullying. The students,  along with a group of other children who felt bad for the students being bullied by the teacher, did the right thing by telling a teacher who told an administrator.  That administrator did nothing to protect the children.  The School Board was informed.  They did NOTHING to prevent this situation from happening again.  So, don’t just define your beliefs.  Live them!
  2. Increase Adult Supervision  Most of the time bullying happens when kids are alone and without supervision.  If bullying is happening at lunch, as a teacher, make a point to walk around a couple times or actually eat lunch with some of the students.  If you are aware of issues in the hallways, ask teachers to volunteer to monitor the hallways.  Most teachers, when aware of a bully issue, are happy to assist. If it is on a bus, talk to the bus driver.
  3. Have School Wide Bully Prevention Workshops A lot of schools just put up an Anti-Bullying poster and never really talk about it with the students.  Teachers, you should role-play bullying scenes with students.  Give them strategies like when they SEE something, SAY something.  Make sure as a teacher, you follow through with telling the proper people about any bully situations you discover.  We want every child to feel safe at school.  Even if you have a poor administration or district, you can talk to your staff and have them supervise areas.
  4. Teach KINDNESS  Teach acts of kindness as part of your social studies curriculum.  Reward students for kindness with hugs, stickers, a shout out on the announcements, etc.
  5. Work with parents who have children who are being bullied.  Some teachers don’t want to get involved because sometimes it is a fine line between bullying and innocent teasing.  The bottom line is if a child is feeling like they are not safe in school, there is a problem.  Talk to the parents to come up with how students can know the difference. Tell the student you are there to keep them safe.  Work with the students who are bullying or “teasing” to know the difference.  Some kids don’t even know they are bullying until you bring it to their attention.  This is why it is important to role-play.
  6. Talk About It Have regular conversations with a purpose.  The goal can be each week to take 5 min. to discuss with your class about if they feel safe at school or on the bus.  These discussions can lead to your ability to gain knowledge about bully situations before they get out of hand.
  7. Share Keaton’s story with your students.  Show support by sharing his story with the hashtag #StandWithKeaton!

I hope some of these tips will help you help your students.  Our number one priority is to provide a safe learning environment for our children. Watch the video here.

Celebrities stand in support of bullied boy after heartbreaking video

When Your Principal is a Bully…

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about power greedy principals.  The complaints range from humiliating teachers in front of peers to threatening a grade level change because a teacher has refused to participate in a particular professional activity outside of contract hours.  Part of the problem may be because the districts are putting too much demand on principals, but I don’t accept that as an excuse for ignoring ethics. Neither should you!  Teachers have a high pressure profession and when their principal is unsupportive, it adds to the stress of the job.  I know many teachers who have sought professional help to deal with the stress of their principal/teacher relationship.  Many are on anti-depressants to help them deal with the stress this relationship places on them.  Medication dependency is not what we want for the people guiding our students. There are many decent and professional minded principals.  I’ve worked for administrators who were fair and have inspired me to be a better teacher, made it easy to wake up each work day, and who embodied workplace integrity.  So, what can you do if you aren’t that lucky?

Business, Businessman, Male, Work, Success, Job, ManHere are some strategies for dealing with a BULLY principal:

 

 

  1. Collect data just like you do for your students.  If a principal tells you that you have to work the valentine’s dance or they will make you do cafeteria duty all year, write it down.  If they are telling your peers that they should take you shopping because they don’t like the way you dress, write it down.  Make sure you put the date and time on the data.  If you get an email saying you have to stay late (past your contract time) to attend a meeting, save and print that email.  Keep copies of everything in a collected file.
  2. Join your union, if you haven’t already.  They can answer all of your questions about your contract.  I’ve never been one for following the contract precisely when I choose to use after hours time for work. I work long hours and take work home with me regularly.  What teacher doesn’t?  But there is a big difference between you choosing to stay late and a dictatorial principal telling you that you have to do it.
  3. Talk to your principal.  Give them a chance.  Ask for a meeting, tell them what you disagree with and give them the opportunity to correct it.  Maybe they are under their own pressure from above and are not aware of the effects of their actions.
  4. EMAIL is your best friend when facing major administrator/teacher issues.  This will preserve everything in writing, preventing denial as a defense.
  5. If you have major problems, for example your principal has placed multiple behavior problems in your class with the intent of making your work more difficult, then you have to get direction from your union, school board, or superintendent.  You are a professional.  You know when unfair practices are taking place.  It is unfair to you and stakeholders that a principal would encourage a classroom environment that is disruptive. I’m aware of many teachers getting physically harmed or threatened on a daily basis with no support from administration.  This is unacceptable!
  6. Take your personal time when you know you need it.  Yes, for teachers it is not easy to take time off because of the planning necessary for a substitute. Invest time and materials in a “Sub Tub” at the beginning of the year.  There are plenty of premade sub plans on-line to help you with this if you can’t make it yourself.  If you find that you are on edge because of your oppressive administration, take a mini vacation to collect you thoughts.
  7. Your health is number 1!  If you are so stressed out over a bully principal that it is damaging your health, seek a new position or find a different profession. It is not worth losing your health when there is another position somewhere with a happy well-adjusted administrator who would love to have you on their team.

 

CHECKLIST for 12 Day Giveaway

Hi everyone!  This is an exciting time of year.  To say thank you for all the hard work you do, I’ve teamed up with the BEST Teacher Pay Teacher Authors to bring you a MEGA Giveaway! Checkout and LIKE my Facebook Page for details.  You can check this blog daily too for information on daily special REASONS to visit each day!  Here is the directions for the $20 CASH part of the Giveaway.  One person will get $20 CASH! (see below the image also to enter the raffle for $500 and MORE prizes for TEACHERS)

  • Download and print the checklist
  • Follow the directions
  • Take a photo of this checklist after it’s completed
  • Upload it to my Facebook Page or one of the participating store’s pages with the Hashtag #TisTheREASON
  • Download the PDF HERE: 12 Days Giveaway PDF Checklist 12 Days Giveaway CHECKLIST Updated
  • Winners will be announced on December 17th.  The only requirement is for you to be a teacher to win. Good LUCK!

Enter the $500 #TisTheReason Rafflecopter Giveaway

Writing Prompts for the YEAR

Why is writing important?  It is important because we can communicate easier in creative ways with others.  Writing is necessary for life.  This skill helps express feelings and thoughts.  Writing builds a connection with reading skills.  It is different from oral communication.  Writing helps organize thoughts.   Studies show that teachers should spend more time teaching writing both explicit and naturally.  This is where it is helpful for a teacher to provide a daily writing journal.  If students finish work early, give them the option to write in a journal.  It is unclear through research just how much time is needed to teach writing because every student learns differently.  Also, many teachers integrate writing in other subject areas.    Share different types of writing with your students.  Let them have opportunities for a real audience and a chance to hear feedback not just with the teacher.  I used monthly journals.  Every Friday I allowed a few students to be the featured author, and share their writing with the class.  Each author could choose 3 people to give feedback or a positive comment.  I had to model this the first couple weeks, but students are quick to pick it up.  No matter what, make sure you teach writing in elementary everyday.  It will build a great foundation for your students.

YEARLONG Writing Prompts Monthly Journals BUNDLE

YEARLONG Writing Prompts Monthly Journals BUNDLE

Surviving the School Year

My job is to help make planning a SNAP!

I know a lot of you have been busy with hurricane clean up, fires, flooding, and more.  It has been a crazy start to the school year for a lot of you.  I personally just finished cleaning up from Irma. Now is the time to show students how we bounce back quickly from disasters and/or help others in need who were less fortunate.  To help you with your year, I have a few resources I made free for a limited time, and a SURVIVAL KIT for KINDERGARTEN teachers for  a super low price to help your year run smooth. BE SURE to scroll down to get the FREEBIES.

If you want to know when products are 1/2 off, please follow my store by clicking the green follow button found HERE. 

Free Happy Birthday Hat

What kid doesn’t want to feel special on their birthday?  Treat them with this birthday hat. (Free for 48 Hours)

One last thing…

This is good for any teacher who is having trouble with tattling in their classroom.  The best part is that I made it FREE for 48 hours.  Hurry and get yours, so your year with be smooth with teaching students the difference between tattling and telling! #lifesaver

NEW RESOURCES to check out:
Author’s Purpose FLIP BOOK
OCTOBER Writing Prompts (JOURNAL)
Constitution Day Flip Book/Activity
3 Week Lesson Plans – ENERGY K-1

3 Week Lesson Plans – What is a Scientist, The Scientific Method, Science TOOLS K-1
Reading Comprehension Passages and Questions Assessment – YEARLONG K-3

 

Happy to help.

If you need help, have a request, or find any errors in products you have purchased, I am here for you!  Unlike big textbook publishers, I can tailor products to meet your needs in most cases. Contact me at cindy@teachersbrain.com

 

Hurricane Kindness (with a side of coffee)

So after driving 10 hours to evacuate from the hurricane, we wanted or NEEDED a Starbucks coffee . We were in Perry, GA, I think. We went out of our way to find the only one for miles. I walk into a beautiful store. My mouth anticipating Pumpkin Spice. Our noses smelling the aromas of fresh brews. Only to be greeted by a smiling employee who explained nicely that I had entered a forbidden zone. ?They were hosting a private event. My face quickly showed my heartache. The area manager came over to see what the problem was. I explained my disappointment. Tom took time to find out why we were traveling. He told me that the store was new, and hasn’t even opened to the public yet. He directed other managers and employees to take care of my whole family for free. They all wished us safe travels. The coffee helped get us to the next destination. Thank you Tom! Thank you Starbucks for your hospitality and generosity! #starbucks #TomRocks #AwesomeCompany #kindness

Back to School with Teacher’s Brain

Welcome back to school teachers!  I hope that this year, I can help you with all your fun, engaging planning!  So to start off the new year, I want to share with you 5 resources that I could not live without when teaching Kindergarten!

  1. Jitter Glitter Slime (to start the year off right with inquiry lessons)
  2. Comprehension for the YEAR
  3. TheKissing Hand
  4. Kindergarten Survival KIT 
  5. Kindergarten YEARLONG Morning Work

Find me on Facebook under Teacher’s Brain to find all my fun Facebook Live Teaching Tips.  A new raffle will be coming up soon for you to win some Back to School CASH! Check it out in the next couple days. 🙂

Cindy