Engaging Students In The Five Senses

Teaching your kindergarten or first grade students about the five senses and how they use them to understand the world around them can be such a fun unit! There are so many ways you can get creative and hands-on in the classroom on this one. The best way to really engage your students in learning about the five senses is- you guessed it, letting them use them! Really let them smell, taste, feel, see, and hear during the activities.  

There are an enormous amount of activities out there that you could use to teach this. It can be overwhelming to decide what lesson plans to go with. You want something fun, age appropriate, and engaging, but that is also based on standards. 

With that in mind, I created an awesome, extensive five week long 5 senses activities unit! 

This resource includes 5 full weeks of lessons, a journal (a great way to integrate literacy and writing in your lessons), 5 mini books, posters, inquiry lessons, detailed plans and more! 

  • Week one, your students will explore and learn all about the sense of touch. 
  • Week two explore the sense of sight
  • Week three learn all about smell
  • Week four explore hearing
  • Week five explore taste

Additional Tips For Teaching The Five Senses

  1. Read books about the five senses. This helps give visuals and incorporate vocabulary into your science lessons.
  2. Get hands-on! Students love when they can get their hands dirty and really dive into an activity. Don’t shy away from it. There are so many cool ways to teach the senses. 
  3. Use the scientific method in your lessons. Check out my post on teaching the scientific method here! 

five senses

 

five senses

 

What is your favorite way to teach the five senses? Let me know in the comments.

 

Back to School Checklist and Tools for Teachers with Social Distancing in Mind

Back to School Checklist

This year is going to be different than any year we have ever taught before thanks to Covid-19.  The best thing you can do now is get a jump start on classroom organization.  I like to have checklists and a lot of teaching tools at my fingertips before I begin the school year in order for my days to go as smooth as possible.  The best advice someone gave me once was to always plan and if the plan doesn’t work in teaching, change the plan.

Checklists for Teachers

Here is a list of things you can add to your own checklist for this school year.  I have a free social distancing checklist download on TpT you can use if you don’t want to make your own.

  • Gather and organize classroom materials and supplies. (Include safety supplies, masks and hand sanitizer)
  • Distance seats from each student.
  • Make it a rule that kids need their own water bottle to keep kids out of the water fountain.
  • Create individualized bins for each student for supplies.
  • Prepare student name tags and/or student desk labels.
  • Organize your files.
  • Label all furniture in the classroom.
  • Create an emergency substitute folder.
  • Label textbooks, workbooks, and supplies.
  • Set up your grade book.
  • Make the first day of lesson plans very detailed.
  • Have rules for the NEW social distancing guidelines if you are in person.
  • If you are doing virtual or a blended version of both, create those rules.
  • Decorate your room to help students remember new safety guidelines.
  • Plan icebreakers for each day the first week of school.
  • Have a classroom calendar and schedule in the classroom.

Teacher Toolkit

In order to help you with all the new social distance guidelines and distance learning, I got together with some of my favorite teacher authors to bring you some teaching tools you can use in this Back to School Tools for Teachers! This is exciting because some of these are resources are way too time consuming for teachers to create.  There are a few freebies in the mix too.

Here are the resources for your Distance Learning Teaching Toolkit:

All About Me Google Slides | Star Student     Virtual Meet the Teacher | OPEN HOUSE | Google Slides

Social Distancing Greetings | Posters | Craft | Mini Books   Social Distancing Posters | Mini Book

Back to School Getting to Know You Project for Distance Learning   Social Distancing Coloring Book EDITABLE | Classroom Rules Coloring Book

Math and ELA Toolbox Distance Learning   Pen Pal Packet for Distance Learning

Back to School Distance Learning Activity - Reading Interest Inventory Survey   1/2 PRICE! Covid 19 Safety Posters and EDITABLE Desk Name Plates

Distance Learning Coronavirus | How to Talk to Young Children About the Virus  Teacher Planning Tool for Digital Organization

Distance Learning Animal Adaptations for Google Classroom  Emergent Readers | Back to School Staying Safe School Rules Booklet

Virtual Learning Behavior Expectations Posters| Distance Learning| Google Slides  Home School Calendar Toolkit

Also Check Out:

Teacher Tips for Returning Back to School Safely

Returning back to school safely is going to take teachers a lot of patience, tips and tricks this year! There are so many unknowns but I know for sure that being organized and clean are going to be play a big role in our Back to School routine.

Here are some ideas for you to think about this school year while planning!

Tips for Teachers Returning Back to School Safely

1. This hand sanitizer holder is pretty neat to place outside of the door.  Students use their foot to squirt their hands.  I have seen some great motion detected dispensers on Amazon too.

(Photo: Stephanie Deal)

2. This teacher is using individual yoga mats, plastic serving trays and individual bins for supplies to keep her students learning at a distance from each other.

(Photo: Kaycie Huffman)

3. Individual book bins are a MUST this year. Plan on using paper printable books or after a week, place the books on quarantine for a couple weeks before rotating them to the next student.

 

(Photo: Teaching Little Leaders)

4. If you are meeting students in person this year, teaching Distant Greetings are going to be important to teach that first week back to school.  Make a poster or sign to hang at the door for students to easily remember and choose their greeting and goodbye each day from a distance.

(Photo: Teacher’s Brain – Cindy Martin)

5. I love this idea! These are pillowcases turned inside out with individual supply bins inside.

(Photo: Mrs. Classroom Craziness)

6. If you are teaching virtual or in person this year, a virtual Meet the Teacher or Open House will make it easier for you to introduce yourself, the classroom and to get students to get to know each other virtually. Google Slides are perfect for personalizing and sharing with families.

7. Social Distance Posters are perfect for in the classroom to remind students of the new safety rules and procedures for the school year.

Also Check Out:

Science Lessons For Kids: What Is A Scientist?

Science is such an important part of elementary curriculum. We set the foundation for our students to understand important science concepts later on. Creating meaningful science lesson plans that students can really learn from is essential. 

A great way for students to begin to really grasp science and have a FUN, positive learning experience is to teach them how to see themselves as scientists. Putting themselves in a scientist’s shoes can really get their minds working and understanding the subject. 

What is a scientist?

I like to start the school year off with the first lessons focusing on what a scientist really is. A scientist is someone who observes, thinks and discovers how things work. A scientist has expert knowledge on a particular subject.

The next step is to move into what tools does a scientist use? Teach about safety equipment including goggles, gloves, and masks. Other tools you can teach include rulers, thermometers, measuring cups, beakers, hand lens, globe, etc. 

Next you’ll want to teach the scientific method. The scientific method is a way for a scientist to study and learn new things. 

Teach your students the steps: 

  1. Ask a question
  2. Gather information and observe
  3. Guess the answer or make a hypothesis
  4. Test your hypothesis
  5. Analyze your test results
  6. Make a conclusion

After covering this with your students, dive into some fun experiments! Plan to do lots of STEM activities to engage your students and make learning about science fun. Interactive notebooks are great for helping students collect data and easily integrate writing into your lessons.

To help make this lesson easy to plan, I created this What Is A Scientist 3 Week Unit! 

It includes 3 full weeks of detailed science lesson plans with interactive notebook pages, posts, and hands on activities that are fun and engaging for your students. Examples include gummy bear science, rainbow milk magic, and mixing primary colors to make observations. This unit is perfect for preK, kindergarten, 1st grade, or homeschool students. 

Science Lessons For Kids

science lessons for kids

Interested in a full year of science lesson plans? Check out my Science Curriculum Yearlong Bundle. For more tips, check out my post here.

What are your best tips for teaching science to younger students? Let me know in the comments!

 

Science lesson

Social Distance Greetings for Students

No-Touch Greetings for Students

Greeting students in the morning is going to be especially important this fall with a pandemic hanging around.  Welcoming students in the classroom is a great way to help students feel welcome and leave any problems they might have from home at the door.  Teachers want schools to open safely this year.  Social distance greetings for students can help with the transition from home to classroom.

Here are some no-touch social distance greetings you can do with your students:

  • Foot Bump
  • Jazz Hands
  • Namaste
  • Wave
  • Blow a Kiss
  • Bow
  • Curtsy
  • Wink
  • Peace Sign
  • Smile
  • Air Hug
  • Thumbs Up
  • Air Five
  • Air Fist Pump
  • Raise the Roof
  • Pretend to Tip Your Hat
  • Salute

How to Teach Distant Greetings

I would have students pick a greeting before they get to school to do at the door and an action for how to say goodbye.  These activities should be quick. You can make a sign that has the actions that hangs on the wall by the door for a reminder.  Hang posters and share other distance greeting activities to help students get in a routine of greeting each other.  I recommend having a few actions and then changing the activities out every month to keep them engaged. Create your own or check out Teachers Pay Teachers for some great resources already made for teachers.  Using Velcro will make it easy for teachers to change the greetings regularly.

Social Distancing Greetings for Kids

Jack Hartmann has a wonderful song to help teach how to greet someone without touching and remind students how to stay 6 feet away from others in the classroom.  Check it out! Thank you JACK!

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.

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Learning to read is a huge accomplishment for students. Going from needing help with books to being able to read it by themselves is a big deal! Sometimes, however, actually comprehending what they are reading can be a little more challenging. 

It is important to know how to read, but it is even more important for them to understand what they are reading. It is not only an absolutely necessary  life skill, but it can open up a whole new world and encourage a love of reading. 

Here are some strategies that you can use to help your students achieve reading comprehension and fluency. 

  • Find books your students will love. Finding the right book can make all the difference when students are learning to read. Books that they will enjoy will inspire them to put in the work and understand the words they are reading. 
  • Read aloud. Encouraging students to read out loud can get them plenty of practice reading and it can also help you identify where they might be struggling. 
  • Use metacognitive strategies. These can be great for increasing reading comprehension. For instance, pausing while reading aloud to ask the student to vocalize their thoughts can help them to understand what they are trying to comprehend. 
  • Reread sections that are confusing. Making sure to revisit difficult sections until they understand is important. It can help better identify where they are struggling and work together to understand. 
  • Use a ruler or finger to follow along. Helping students stay on track while reading can help them follow along with the story and decrease the risk of confusion. 
  • Write down words you don’t know. Writing it down and working on it will help them better remember it in the future. 
  • Discuss what the child has just read. Having a discussion can help the student think through what they just read and also help you point out areas they might be struggling in. 
  • Recap and summarize the main points. This will be great practice for students working on their comprehension. 
  • Reading passages and answering questions. Find some fun and engaging reading comprehension activities for your students to practice with. 

Great news, I created some fun activities to help with this!

These reading comprehension activities are perfect for helping students get more practice and achieve fluency. They are set up through Google Classroom so they are distance learning friendly. These include written instructions, listening options, drag to complete the sentence activities, word families, and 20 reading comprehension passages and questions. 

This option is perfect for Kindergarten and 1st grade. 

This option is perfect for 1st and 2nd grade.

 

Reading Comprehension Activities

 

Want more information on reading comprehension? Check out my post here to learn more about my strategies. 

 

Do you have any strategies for helping your students with reading comprehension? I would love to hear in the comments!

 

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.

Digital End of the Year Memory Books

As teachers learn about school closures for the rest of the 2020 school year, they scramble for new ways to connect with their students.  Of course the safety of children is a top priority, so we understand why they are not opening the schools up.  This still leaves teacher feeling like they didn’t get a chance to really say good-bye in a meaningful way.

A digital memory book is a great way to encourage your students to relive their school year if your students have access to technology.  You can even push out autograph pages for the class to use their favorite fonts to sign their names.  If you have pictures you took during the school year, add them to the digital file to push out through Google Classrooms or email.

Journaling During the Coronavirus

Writing Journal during the Coronavirus for kids

Journaling to Keep Kids Calm

NOW is the time to be journaling! We are all living history right now.  Even though this is a time of uncertainty, there is a lot to learn, feelings to explore, thoughts to organize and people coming together to turn lemons into lemonade.  We didn’t ask for this Coronavirus. Everyday is like living in a strange movie.  One moment you are fine and the next moment the sky is falling.  Journaling is a great way to organize your thoughts.  Students right now should be taking notes of news headlines, observing the stock market fluctuate, and learning about healthy habits.

Should Adults Keep a Journal?

Writing is a great way to confront your emotions during difficult times.  It helps you face your fears.  Taking notes of what is going on in your world, your mind and your home can help you stay mentally healthy.  Journaling serves as a great tool for people at any age!  Start journaling today.