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

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

 

Celebrate International Peace Day in the Classroom

Peace can and SHOULD be celebrated all year!  Today is International Peace Day, so I want to help bring an awareness to peace and kindness by  telling you some things I do to celebrate peace in the classroom and offer you a  teaching resource you can use in your own classroom or school.  Hopefully you celebrate peace daily, but maybe you aren’t aware you are even doing it.  Here are some simple things you can do for International Peace Day.  Use the hashtag #DoitforPEACE and post something you have done that is similar to these examples.

  1. Hugs (Yes, it is an easy one! Go hug someone today!)
  2. Teach peace
  3. March for peace
  4. Buy someone food who is in the car line behind you
  5. Play peaceful music
  6. Meditate
  7. Make a new friend
  8. Share examples of peace with your students or staff members
  9. Write a nice note to someone
  10. Write about peace

So what have you done today?  What will you do tomorrow?  Small bits of kindness can grow a tree of peace.  Start today!

Here is a great lesson you can do in your classroom or even have your whole school participate with these cool painted rocks.

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.

End of the School Year Activities

Okay, so hopefully you have all that testing behind you now and are freed up to do some educational activities that are engaging for your students!  I always have an end of the year celebration with my student that is themed-based.  I also have an end of the year celebration where the parents are invited to share some special moments with their child before summer heats up!  Here are some theme ideas that I usually let my students choose from:

  1. HawaiianSPY DAY Themed Days - SPY Mystery Thermatic units
  2. Spy Day
  3. Beach or Ocean Day
  4. Pirate Day
  5. Circus
  6. Mad Scientist Day
  7. Craft Day
  8. Super Hero Day

We do activities with items I purchase from Oriental Trading Co. usually.  I also ask parents to donate items for the day.  Superhero Themed Activities - Superhero Themed Day - CentersWe make a t-shirt to go with the theme.  All the activities are educational, but they are theme-based. This is a do just for kids, but I do have a couple volunteers helping me with activities.

When I invite the parents to the room, we have a slideshow showing pictures taken throughout the school year.  Each year, (20 so far) I’ve made individual photo albums for all my students and present them to the parents as a parting gift.  Even though these cost me a lot, they proved to be priceless! Many students return years later with that album in hand. They tell me how meaningful the albums are to them.  One even said, “When I’m down, I can look at it, and it always cheers me up.”  I’m glad I invested in them.  Then, I have parents bring in a dish to share.  They can also bring in footballs to play outside with the kids after we all eat.  It’s a great day!  To make it really special, I also give every child a candy certificate as a keepsake.

Then end of the year is a busy time for teachers, but it also the best time to make memories that will last a lifetime with your students, build connections with the community, and celebrate the time you shared together as a class!End of the Year Awards Certificates EDITABLE - Candy Awards - Superlatives

 

 

How to Sell on Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT)

Teacher friends are always asking me how to start selling on TpT.  I love helping others!  I look forward to helping the people who have already took the step to become a seller (Teacher Author), and helping others who want to create some time saving resources for teachers.  To be honest, it is not easy.  I started part-time, just working on the weekends.  Now, I resigned from teaching and work TpT full time.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE every minute of this job, but it is time-consuming.  Like anything, the more you focus on something, the more successful you will be at it.

How to be a TpT Author

 

First, let me have you ask yourself a couple questions to see if it is right for you.

  1. Do you have an educational background?
  2. Do you enjoy creating teaching material?
  3. Do you have a computer?
  4. Do you have time to spend creating materials?
  5. Have you worked in PowerPoint before?

If you answered yes, then there is a pretty good chance that you will enjoy working with TpT! Now, what do you need to do to get started?

 

Step 1: Join Teachers Pay Teachers.  You can use this Referral LINK to join as a seller for FREE. Once you get comfortable, and know it is the right fit for you, I highly suggest you upgrade to the premium account, so you get a better payout.  Think of a great name for your store.  You can use your own personal name like a lot of sellers, or you can create one that keeps your brand separated from your person.  Once you decide on a store name, check first to make sure no one else has your name by typing it in the TpT search bar.  This will be the way people remember you, so spend some time to really decide on something you will be happy with in the long run.

 

Step 2: Use PowerPoint to create your first resource.  The first one is a free resource, so make it nice so everyone knows what they can expect from you in future resources, but don’t go over 10 pages.  My first one was only 1 page, and it is really not a good representation of my type of products I offer now after all of my growth, but it makes me happy to see where I started.

TIPS FOR YOUR PRODUCT:

Create a Cover, Put a copyright on each page, Have a boarder around each page, Find images and fonts on TpT to use in your product, (there are some free ones who just want you to link them in the credits and you can use Pixabay for commercial use images for free),Don’t break copyright law by copying others, Make a great preview (maybe the product in action), Make sure the description is clear

 

Step 3: Once you are happy with your first product, upload it. Repeat this with another product and this time put a price on it! Now it gets exciting! TpT has resources for you to find how to properly price items.  Make sure you look around the web site to become familiar with all it has to offer.

Step 4: Download the TpT app to your phone, so you can hear the CHA CHING sound that plays when you get a sale.  It is motivating!

Feel free to visit my store Teacher’s Brain to look around to see how I write a description, make covers, and previews.  There is a lot more to learn, but this should get you started.  Do a search on YouTube for tips on how to make covers in PowerPoint.  That is how I got started.  After a few months, I  was able to create resources that I was really confident about making for teachers.  If you need a course that will really get you to focus, try The Focused Teacherpreneur Course with Shelly Rees.  It has been a game changer for me, and worth every penny.

 

Good Luck!

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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