Mother’s Day Crafts for the Classroom

If you are a teacher, Mother’s Day is an excellent time to get your students’ creative juices flowing. Celebrating an important female relative in a child’s life, whether they are a mother or not, gives students both a chance to show those people how they feel and a chance to stretch their imaginations. As a bonus, other lessons can be worked into these crafts such as color, perspective, creative writing and explanations of types of art that the students may not know. The possibilities are endless. If you are looking for ideas for your own classroom’s Mother’s Day crafts, look no further. Below are some of the best Mother’s Day craft ideas out there.

 

Write a Poem

Poems are a wonderful way to show someone you care. Have your students write poems for the special women in their lives. This craft is an excellent way to discuss rhymes, pacing and phrasing. The students could print their new poems inside cards they decorated themselves.

 

Photo Cards

Use a camera to snap photos of your students standing with their arms held out as if they are giving a hug. Trim these photos into heart shapes and attach them to Mother’s Day cards. Allow your students to decorate around their photos and write letters inside the cards. This craft is an amazing writing practice.

 

Coupon Books

Give your students pieces of cardstock and have them decorate them. The cardstock will become the covers for a coupon book for their mother or special woman in their life. Then you can either pick up free coupons from local businesses or ask your students to come up with coupons that their mother can redeem at any time, such as a coupon for a free hug or a coupon that entails that the student will do the dishes one night so that their mother can have a break.

 

Origami Roses

There are free printable instructions for making all kinds of origami online. Get colorful paper and help your students fold origami roses for their mothers. If you have enough time and paper, each student could fold a small bouquet of roses. These bouquets can then be tied with ribbon bows and presented to their mothers. Unlike real roses, these will never wilt and can be used as beautiful keepsakes for years to come. Most students love origami, and this is an excellent way to teach them new shapes.

 

Recipe Book

Each day in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, print a recipe on the blackboard and have your students copy them on plain white paper. Then have them make a cover for the recipe book which they will then give to the special woman in their life. This craft is excellent for teaching good penmanship as well as vocabulary related to cooking. Your students will be delighted to present their homemade recipe books to their mothers.

 

Picture Frames

Have your students decorate special picture frames for the special women in their lives. Be creative! The picture frames can be decorated with paints, stamps, pebbles or shells. Picture frames are cheaply available at most budget outlet stores. Remove the glass before allowing the students to decorate the frames.

 

Clay Pots

Buy very inexpensive clay pots. Then allow your students to decorate them. Do this a few weeks before Mother’s Day. Then sow flower seeds in each pot. Water the flowers as needed and watch them grow. This is both a wonderful present for the special women in your students’ lives and an amazing science lesson about how plants grow and the various types of seeds.

 

Fingerpaint Bookmarks

Make bookmarks from strips of white cardstock. Then allow your students to go absolutely crazy with the finger paints. This is a fun, messy craft and  your students will enjoy getting to finger paint a gift. Poke a hole in the end of the bookmark and add a ribbon to make it extra special once it is dry.

 

Mother’s Day is a wonderful creative time of year. Children are excited to show the special women in their lives just how much they are loved, and mothers, grandmothers and other special ladies are happy to receive gifts from their favorite children. Mother’s Day is also an excellent teaching opportunity. Many important lessons can be taught effectively by craft projects. These lessons include perspective, color choice, creative writing, simple arithmetic skills, penmanship and grammar. As a bonus, these crafts are not expensive. Most of them can be done with found objects or ones bought from budget outlets. The key here is to be creative. Use your imagination and let your creativity flow. The ideas listed above are merely a starting point. Use your imagination and who knows what wonderful ideas you could discover!

Ten Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas

When things get busy during the year, it can be easy to overlook what a fantastic job your child’s teacher is doing. Teachers put in much more time and effort than we might realize, often going above and beyond in order to give our kids a great education, so the end of the school year is a fantastic time to recognise this.

Help your child to honor their teacher with this fantastic list of simple, inexpensive gifts which are suitable for both male and female teachers. Some of these gifts can be made with a few simple materials which you may even find around the house, some require a small purchase and others simply require your time.

No matter which gift you choose, we are certain your child’s teacher will appreciate the time you took to say ‘thanks!’

 

1. A Smooth Year

Quick and easy, this small gift is the perfect last minute gift to show appreciation for your teacher! Simply purchase a nice, fragrance appropriate hand cream or body lotion and print off a simple tag with the saying “hope you have a smooth year!”

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For more instructions, go HERE

 

2. Color My World

Easy and inexpensive, this sharpie gift is both practical and fun! Teachers love when they are given gifts of stationary supplies that they would otherwise have to purchase so this small but cute gift will go down a treat. Have you child grab a pack of sharpies and a piece of paper and let them tell their teacher how much ‘color they bring’ to the world, or how ‘sharp’ they are!

If your child has more than one teacher that they want to give an appreciation gift to, you can buy a larger pack of sharpies and divide it up – it couldn’t be simpler!

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For more instructions, go HERE

 

3. Candy Collage

This collage is super fun to make and will bring a smile to any teacher’s face! Grab a range of candy bars which have words that you can incorporate into a story or a series of messages and glue them onto a large piece of paper. After the teacher has enjoyed it on the wall, he or she can raid it for snacks!

This collage is also fantastic for encouraging your children to put words into context and be creative!

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4.  Crayon Wreath

Beautiful as a classroom decoration, this crayon wreath is the perfect gift for a teacher of any age classroom. Simply purchase a packet of dollar store crayons and a basic wreath (or you can fashion one yourself out of paper mache or a pool noodle) and stick the crayons on the wreath at even intervals. To add an extra touch be sure to add a nice sign with your teacher’s name on it.

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For more instructions, go HERE

 

5. Nuts About Teachers

This one is super simple and can be picked up while you shop for your usual groceries. Simply have your kids draw or print a super cute sign about how ‘nuts’ they are about their teacher and attach it to a snack size bag of peanuts or other nut. These nuts will make the perfect morning tea for the teacher!

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For more instructions, go HERE

 

6. Orange You Glad?

With colds and flu’s rife in schools, teachers sure need their vitamin C! Make sure they get it with this fun and healthy gift that will brighten up their day! Simply bag up some oranges with a bright colored ribbon and print or draw a sign that reads “Orange you glad” it’s the holidays, the weekend (or whatever message you choose). Kids will love putting it together and teachers will love receiving it.

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For more instructions, go HERE

 

7. Beary Thankful

Adorable and tasty, you can’t lose with this super cute and easy gift. Simply package up some gummy bears and attach a card telling the teacher how ‘bear-y thankful’ your child is to have them as a teacher. Just make sure all the gummy bears end up in the bag bound for the teacher!

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For more instructions, go HERE

 

8. So Fortunate

No matter how old you are, cracking open a fortune cookie never stops being fun. Fortune cookies are super easy to find in stores so grab a box and attach a tag telling your child’s teacher how fortunate your child is to have them. This is one of the cheapest gift ideas and is a great idea if you need to give a gift to multiple teachers.

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For more instructions, go HERE

 

9. Fingerprint Tree

If you want your teacher appreciation gift to be super personal and almost free, then get this great printable and have your child or children place their fingerprints on it for the tree leaves. Your teacher will treasure the time and effort your children put into creating this beautiful piece of artwork, just for them.

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For more instructions, go HERE

 

10. Pencil, Pencil Holder

Yes, you read that one correctly! This pencil holder is quite literally…made from pencils! Cute and easy to make, your teacher will love how themed this pencil holder is and will give it pride of place on his or her desk.  Simply hot glue plain HB pencils around a clean, old aluminium food can and secure with a ribbon. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even fill the pencil tin with pens and pencils for your teacher to use, or fill with confectionery for those must-have-sugar moments!

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For more instructions, go HERE

Promoting Summer Reading

Reading is more than a great way to pass the time. It expands vocabulary, develops empathy, and improves analytical skills. Research has also shown that how much a child reads over the summer has a strong correlation to how much they retain from last year’s lessons—the more a child reads, the less of a “summer slide” they experience.

But how can teachers motivate students to read over the summer? Even if students love reading, not all are lucky enough to have tons of books in their home or a library within walking distance. And getting students to want to read can be a challenge itself.

Here are some tips to get students motivated to read on their own all summer long:

 

Introduce a Book Series
It’s great when a child loves any book, but series can be especially great for encouraging students to read more, beyond the one story. Each time they finish a book, there is a clear next step to keep them reading.

Let Students Borrow from the School
For some students, the biggest hurdle to reading is access to books. This is especially true for socioeconomically disadvantaged students who suffer most from “summer slide.” Simply providing access to books they can hold onto and read over the summer can be one of the best ways teachers can encourage students to read.

Start a Facebook Page or Blog
Highlight age-appropriate books students will enjoy, and get them to share what they’re reading, too. This can helps students find good stories to check out even when they’re out of school, and the social factor can help them keep it up over time.

Read Book Excerpts to the Class
Select exciting passages from age-appropriate books, and read them out loud to the class with dramatic flair to entice them. Leave the book out during free times later, and be ready to lend copies to interested students.

Model Good Reading Behaviors
During class quiet times, show students that you love to read by modeling the behavior for them—simply pick up a great book and read it where they can see you. Tell them how interesting it is, and how you can’t wait to read more later.

Encourage them to Read What they Love
All kinds of reading counts when it comes to stimulating the mind. Support student reading in all its forms, whether its novels, comics, magazines, or something else entirely.

Encourage All Opinions
Ask students whether or not they liked a book, and respect their answer—no one likes everything! Even better, ask them why they don’t like the book, and get them to engage their critical thinking and express their thoughts.

Promote a Summer Reading Challenge
Tell students about summer reading activities at the local library or other challenges like the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, and encourage them to participate.

Reward Good Habits
Before students leave for summer vacation, get them as prepared to read over the summer as possible. Then tell them if they can meet a designated reading goal and come show their progress in September, there will be a special reward for them. Some fun pencils or other small prizes can go a long way to incentivize and reinforce good reading habits!

 

Good Summer Reading Habits Start in Fall

A passion for reading doesn’t just appear in June when school lets out—it’s got to be fostered throughout the school year.

The more teachers work with their students to develop a habit of reading for fun in fall, winter, and spring, the more likely these students will be to seek out and take advantage of opportunities to read over the summer.

Reading: 20 Top Tips for Teachers

Reading is an important part of anyone’s life, and for a child, the ability to read can help send them to different worlds full of adventure, fun, and education.  Of course, we are not all born with a reading ability ingrained into our minds!  Children must be taught how to read, and whether they learn at a school, preschool, or at home with a parent or guardian teaching them, it is important to get them started on the road to reading in the way that works best for them.  Here are some ideas for teaching children to read, no matter what kind of learners they might be.

 

  • Start by reading to your child.

Read to children as often as possible even when they are still babies.

 

  • Have your child copy down letters.

Repetitive copying of letter shapes helps teach kids what the letters mean.

 

  • Ask your child to repeat letter sounds aloud.

Repetition can also be used to teach letter sounds.

 

  • Teach sight words, and ask your child to identify them.

Sight words, like a, an, the, to, and from, can be easy to recognize.  Teach them early, and ask kids to point them out in newspapers and magazines.

 

  • Put words into word families.

Ask children to organize words into families based on different structures, such as color words, sound words, and more.

 

  • Consider teaching phonics.

Phonics is sometimes a controversial subject, but many kids respond well to learning phonemes as they learn how to read.

 

  • Teach children how to sound out words.

Sounding it out can be a great way for a child to make a guess at a complicated new word.

 

  • Make letter arrangement puzzles.

Cut up simple words or the child’s name into individual letters, mix them up, and ask the child to reorganize them into the correct order.

 

  • Glue or sew letters.

Gluing or sewing around letters is a great way for kids to remember their shapes by touch.

 

  • Teach with simple clues or scavenger hunts.

 Write down easy to read clues and have kids read them to for “treasure” around the room.

 

  • Ask children to organize items into boxes by letter or sound.

A toy duck should go into the D box, and a pencil should go into the P box.  Teach kids word beginnings using this method.

 

  • Clap out syllables.

Syllables can be tricky, but if you make a game of clapping them out, they can be fun to learn.

 

  •  Focus on punctuation.

Slightly older kids can learn about punctuation marks and what they do to a sentence.

 

  • Spend a while on vowel sounds.

 Vowels are difficult, since they make a lot of different sounds.  Be sure to spend plenty of time focusing on them.

 

  • Read simple poetry to learn about rhymes.

Simple children’s poems are excellent ways to teach vowel sounds through rhyme.

 

  • Set a daily reading time.

Reading every day is a sure way to improve those skills!

 

  • Allow children to put together simple scrapbooks of their families, friends, or pets.

Cutting and pasting pictures and mementos into pages organized by name can help kids sort words by family member, emotion, and more.

 

  • Ask children to classify their favorite stories by type.

Older kids might benefit from sorting out their favorite stories as fantasies, school stories, and more.

 

  • Teach children how to write simple notes.

Small notes to and from friends or family are great reasons for any child to learn reading and writing both.

 

  • Utilize flash cards.

They may be a little outdated, but flash cards can still help some kids learn how to recognize words, letters, and sounds quickly.

 

 

When a child knows how to read, he or she is able to enjoy books, comics, and more without struggling.  With these methods for teaching children to read, you can easily help a child in your home or classroom.

20 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day may not seem like much of a holiday. After all, banks and stores do not close and mail is delivered. There are not even big celebrations for it most of the time. However, Earth Day is very important despite its general lack of notice from most people. It is on this day that we celebrate our planet, raise environmental awareness and take a moment to look toward the future. But how can we celebrate Earth Day? If you are trying to figure out plans for your next Earth Day celebration, keep reading. Below are twenty great ideas to get you started.

 

  • Plant a Tree

Perhaps the most classic way to celebrate Earth Day is to plant a tree. Trees release oxygen into the air as well as removing carbon dioxide which is harmful to humans. They also can provide some much-needed shade. Just be careful to only plant trees on land you have permission to plant on.

 

  • Grow an Herb Garden

An herb garden is an excellent addition to your home. Not only do herbs smell nice, they are wonderful to use in cooking. When you grow your own fresh herbs, you know exactly what is going into your body. The use of fresh herbs can help the environment as well. Commercially bought herbs often include pesticides and antibiotics which are harmful to the environment. Your use of fresh herbs prevents a bit of those chemicals from entering the environment.

 

  • Carpool

Fossil fuels are a huge problem. The burning of these natural resources leads to air pollution as well as deforestation and soil erosion due to mining. With this in mind, a good way to celebrate Earth Day is to find friends to car pool with. This way, though there are still fossil fuels being burned, the impact is much less than if everyone was driving their own individual cars. If car pooling is not an option for you, perhaps you could take a bike to some of your destinations or use public transit.

 

  • Repair Your Leaky Faucets

Another problem facing our planet is water waste. Fixing leaky faucets is an inexpensive way to do something to help the environment as well as saving money on your utility bills. As a bonus, you will no longer have to hear that annoying drip drip drip.

 

  • Get Engaged

Earth Day is a wonderful time to learn about the environment. Do research to discover what the problems facing your particular area are. If you live near a body of water, for example, you could look online to find out if it is healthy or in need of cleaning.

 

  • Join a Forum

There are plenty of groups out there dedicated to environmental concerns. Find one for a concern you are interested in, and join it. There is nothing more amazing than the strength of a group of people working together toward a common goal.

 

  • Care for Animals

Donating to the WWF or the ASPCA or even your local shelter can be an amazing way to celebrate Earth Day. This sort of donation is vital to the continued work of these causes that protect our planet’s animals and assure that species do not go extinct.

 

  • Save Energy

This Earth Day, make a conscious effort to save energy. Unplug appliances when not in use. Turn off the television when you are not watching it. If you have power strips or surge protectors, make sure to turn these off when the devices connected to them are not in use. This, like the waste of water above, has a twofold bonus. You will be caring for the environment while saving money on your electric bill.

 

  • Go Outside

Earth Day is in the spring, the highlight of beautiful weather. This Earth Day, take a moment to go outside if it is at all possible. Take a moment to relax, smell the spring flowers and appreciate our planet for its beauty.

 

  • Make a Recycling Plan

Recycling is important for our environment. It cuts down on the amount of garbage which would normally be thrown into landfills. Recycling insures that metal, plastic and other wastes can be used again. Work with your family to develop a recycling plan. Even children can help out, making it a game as opposed to work.

 

  • Swear Off Bottled Water

Many of us drink bottled water, but it is very bad for the environment. The number of empty water bottles in landfills today could stretch from the Earth’s surface to the moon twice! Giving up or cutting back on the amount of bottled water we drink reduces the number of bottles rotting in landfills. Further, some companies take water for their bottled water from drought-stricken regions such as California, which drastically worsens the problem.

 

  • Get Your Friends Involved

Put up a white board in your office or school. Invite your friends and co-workers to make a small change that would help the environment and to post those changes. Working in groups will increase accountability and give each of you someone to cheer you on.

 

  • Buy Local

Locally-grown foods are easier on the environment as they do not require massive amounts of fossil fuels to transport and are not grown in hot houses with chemicals. Further, if you buy local and organic, you are supporting the farmers. This support is vital to their continued livelihood. Both the farmers and the planet will thank you.

 

  • Go Paperless

Due to the production of paper, millions of trees are cut every year, trees that we need to breathe. Paying your bills online can help reduce the amount of paper wasted every year. Another way to go paperless is to carry reusable shopping bags, or ask for environmentally friendly alternatives at your local supermarket.

 

  • Install a Bird Feeder

Watching birds feed can be a fun and relaxing way to celebrate Earth Day. Do research to see what types of birds live near you and what types of foods they like. Then install bird feeders in nearby trees. They do not have to be fancy. Even a pine cone spread with peanut butter and coated with seeds will work. For hummingbirds, install hummingbird feeders filled with nectar.

 

  • Plant a Play Garden

A play garden is a space for children to grow food and get their hands dirty. Teaching the next generation about the value of plants is very important, and they will enjoy eating the things they have grown.

 

  • Walk to School or Work

Avoid the car altogether. If the weather is nice, take a walk to school or work. This way you help conserve fossil fuels while also getting fresh air and increasing your energy level.

 

  • Check Your Carbon Footprint

There is a site that allows you to check your carbon footprint, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a person or group’s consumption of fossil fuels. Using this site, you can calculate the amount of fossil fuels you use and discover ways to use less of them.

 

  • Test Your Car’s Emissions

Testing your car’s emissions can be a great way to help the environment. A car that does not meet the national emission standards puts out a lot of carbon dioxide and other harmful chemicals into the air. Furthermore, having a car which does not meet emission standards is also illegal in some states. Checking your emissions can actually save you a lot of money in fines.

 

  • Get Away for a Day

If you happen to live in a large city, plan a day trip to the country. It may sound old-fashioned, but a trip out into the country where air pollution tends to be less prevalent can actually show you more of the beauty of nature. You can even pack a picnic lunch to eat once you are there. Sit back, relax and feel all the beautiful gifts this world has blessed us with.

 

 

This planet is the only one we have, so we need to try to conserve resources as much as we possibly can. Earth Day reminds us to slow down and take a moment to do something nice for the environment and to enjoy the beauty around us. And that makes it a very important holiday indeed.

20 Ways to Teach a Child To Read

Learning to read a major milestone and rite of passage for any child. And yet, one in four children in American grow up without becoming literate, according to DoSomething.org. Weak reading skills makes it harder for a child to succeed in school and work, and is even linked to greater risk for dropping out of school and incarceration.

As parents and teachers, we are eager to do all we can to support our children and give them a strong start in life with great reading skills. Here are 20 ways to get kids on the path to reading well—and loving it.

  1. Read out loud
    A child can benefit from reading together even as a newborn. In fact, the earlier you start, the better you can establish reading and a special time for bonding and relaxing fun. This association can set kids up for a lifetime of learning and imagination.
  1. Read to yourself
    Set a good example for children by modeling the behavior you wish them to emulate. When a child sees you reading, it shows that reading is an activity adults partake in and enjoy—and that s/he can enjoy it, too.
  1. Create a tactile experience
    Babies and young children learn by touching, feeling and even chewing. Let reading be a safe tactile experience by opting for baby-proofed books make of cloth or sturdy cardboard. Also, look for books that create many different feels for young kids to engage with, such as tufts of fur, crackly swatches, buttons that squeak and mirrors to look into.
  2. Use your surroundings
    Everywhere we go, there are examples of letters and words in action. No matter what stage of reading a child is at, you can use these real-life examples to help kids learn. Point out uses of this week’s new letters, or turn it into a game of “I Spy.”
  1. Explore the pictures
    While reading together, ask kids questions about the pictures. This encourages children to interact with the story and develop important critical thinking skills that make reading meaningful. Ask questions appropriate to their age and reading level.
  1. Introduce the letters
    Start with the letters in the child’s name, then move on to the most common letters like T, C, and M. Instructables recommends introducing two letters a week. Write each letter on a piece of paper together, talk about the letter’s name, and review the sounds the letter makes. Hold onto the written letters and review them together regularly.
  1. Point to the words
    As you read together, children will pick up the basics of what a book is—the cover and the pages, how the illustrations relate to the words, how to go from front to back. When you point to the words, you help them pick up the correlation between the letters on the page and the words that create the story.
  1. Sound it out
    Build on the alphabet by introducing phonetics. “Phonemes” are the small sounds of the English languages that words are built from. By learning these sounds, a child can begin to sound out words for him/herself. Sound out words together and break them into their pieces, then show how they come together to create a word.
  1. Teach sight words
    Being able to recognize sight words is a key milestone in reading fluency. “Sight words” are the common, short words of the English language that we come across all the time, but don’t necessarily follow the rules of phonics, such as “the” and “said.” By memorizing these words, children can blow past them in a book and focus on sounding out bigger words.
  1. Get to know word families
    If a child can recognize that the “-ain” found in “rain,” “train,” and “gain” are the same, they can begin to recognize these words more quickly in context. Being able to identify word families is a crucial step in understanding phonetics.
  1. Read predictable stories
    There is a category of books for children called “predictable stories,” which use predictable sentence structures and clear illustrations to help kids make informed guesses about the words on the page as they learn new words.
  1. Up the ante
    As children learn and grow, offer new, more challenging books to keep them learning and stimulated. This will make sure the child continues to learn new words and develop their critical thinking.
  2. Rhyme
    Stories with rhymes are another way to offer a child predictability in reading, while also reinforcing word families. In addition to this, rhymes are just plain fun, which helps keep the process enjoyable.
  1. Set a challenge
    As a child learns, keep pushing him/her to reach for the next step. You can do this by teaching him/her new words, get more complicated books, or ask more advanced questions.
  1. Let the child set the pace
    While it’s great to keep kids challenged, don’t push them. Every child has his/her own pace for learning to read. Pushing him/her will only make the experience stressful. To keep the challenge fun, turn reading into a game.
  1. Stay positive.
    When starting school, it can be discouraging for a child who is not as far along in reading as some of their classmates But if you stay positive, you can help the child stay positive, too.
  1. Keep lessons consistent
    Avoid confusing children by keeping reading lessons at home consistent with what they’re learning at school. Teachers can help by sending letters home about the methods you’re using in the classroom. Parents should pay attention to information from school.
  1. Talk about the plot
    Reading isn’t just about knowing the words on the page. It’s about the greater meaning the words create, too—the story. Help a child develop this important comprehension by talking about the plot with him/her.
  1. Respect a good guess
    A child uses a story’s context to inform his/her guesses as s/he reads. So if a child reads “I have soap to wash my hands,” when the sentence says “I have soap to clean my hands,” the child is showing s/he understands the meaning of what s/he is reading. Instead of just correcting the error, assure the child that s/he is close, and review the sentence again together.
  1. Schedule well
    The timing of reading sessions matters. Keep them short (about 10 minutes) and keep it positive—don’t start at a point when a child is upset, tired or hungry.

Reading sets kids up for success

Beginning to read is a milestone in the learning process, and the beginning of a wonderful lifelong habit. These 20 ways to just some examples of the many ways you can help children learn to read. Whatever you do, keep it fun and show them how enjoyable reading can be!

How School Libraries Boost Student Achievement

For over two decades, growing body of research has shown a close correlation between school libraries and student success. Without these resources, students don’t reach their potential and a greater gap grows between the highest performing children and disadvantaged students

But improving performance doesn’t just come down to resources. One of the biggest factors had nothing to do with the resources available—it was the librarians themselves. Students perform better when certified librarians and support staff are available to help both students and teachers make the most of the library.

When given this support, students’ performance spoke for itself. Just take a look at these stats on student performance from research on the impact of school libraries:

  • Across the board, students at schools with full-time librarians are almost three times as likely to have “Advanced” writing scores than those at schools without one. (American Library Association)
  • At schools where administrators, librarians and teachers assess the library’s program to teach inquiry-based learning as “excellent,” student consistently less likely to score “Below Basic” in reading and writing. (ALA)
  • When a library has flexible scheduling that allows students greater access, the number of students who earn “Advanced” writing scores is four times higher. (ALA)
  • A study of schools in Texas found school libraries boosted achievement by 4 percent at the elementary and middle school levels, while high school achievement was boosted by 8.2 percent. (ASCD)
  • At schools with a full-time, certified librarian, almost eight percent more students score “Advanced” in reading. (ALA)
  • At schools with a full-time, certified librarian and support staff, almost nine percent more students score “Advanced” in reading, compared to having a full-timed, certified librarian alone. (ALA)
  • In a Colorado study, at elementary schools with higher collaboration between teachers and school librarians, students scored 21 percent higher on the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) than students at schools with less collaboration. (Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2000—via New York Comprehensive Center [NYCC])
  • A study in Indiana showed that when principals emphasized in-service opportunities for collaboration between teachers and school librarians, student test scores went up by 29.5 percent. (Scholastic, 2008, via NYCC)
  • The Indiana study also showed that collaboration for curriculum design and instruction delivery increased test scores by 7.8 percent, at every level of education. (Scholastic, 2008, NYCC)
  • A 2005 study of Illinois 11th graders correlated higher American College Testing (ACT) scores with increased collaboration between school librarians and teachers. This included activities such as identifying materials, planning lessons and motivating students to read. (NYCC)
  • In a review of studies from Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, library factors outweighed the effects of other factors including computers per student, teacher experience, and teacher turnover ratio. (ASCD)
  • These are only a few studies that corroborate the significant role of school libraries—21 state studies confirm school librarians support student achievement. (ALA)

A well-staffed school library isn’t a Band-Aid—a lot of the achievement gap is still attributed to other factors, particularly socioeconomic differences. But having a library at school can help bridge that gap and give students a boost for academic achievement.

However, unsurprisingly, study after study has shown that the students who are most in need of academic improvement are the ones who benefit the most when supported by a school library. Support and utilize school libraries and their resources to help students succeed.

20 Ways to Spice Up Your Kids Lunchbox

 

Providing lunch for your children can be a challenge. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches quickly get old and they are not the most healthy option. Packaged lunch alternatives often contain additives and preservatives as well as unnecessary amounts of trans-fats, salt and sugar. So, as a health-conscious parent who is attempting to provide a fun, unique lunch for their child, what can you do? You could spend the whole day researching ideas. However, in this article, we have saved you the trouble. Below are twenty ideas for spicing up your children’s lunches they are sure to love and will not want to trade to their friends.

 

Celery Stick Paintbrushes

Veggies are not generally something any child wants in their lunch. However, they will soon change their tune with these celery paintbrushes. Take celery sticks. Cut the ends so they flare out like paint brushes. Then include tiny cups of mayo, mustard and ketchup to serve as the paint. Also include a classic ham or turkey sandwich, allowing your little artists to paint designs on their sandwiches before they eat them.

 

Carrot Pencils

To get your children to eat carrots, simply trim down one end, shaping the carrot into the shape of a pencil. These would also be wonderful to include along with the celery paint brushes as another artistic medium for your sandwich topping artists.

 

Octopus Weenies

Octopus weenies are a favorite of both children and adults alike in Japan and they will be a favorite of your little ones too, especially if they love sea life. Start with a cocktail weenie. Cut little slits in the weenie till they are about halfway up. These become little dangling legs. Fry the weenies and the legs will curl up, giving you a perfect octopus.

 

Pigs in a Blanket

Pigs in a blanket are not generally considered the most healthy lunchtime choice, but children love them. To make your pigs in a blanket more healthy, use turkey sausages or cocktail weenies. Cut down on the amount of cheese the recipe calls for. Serve these sparingly and they become a lunchtime treat your child will be delighted to see in their lunchbox.

 

Pizza Pocket Puffs

These alliteratively-named snacks are a wonderful treat. Simply roll out filo dough or crescent roll dough into thin sheets. Then put a bit of cheese, some mini pepperoni, or your child’s pizza toppings of choice inside. Fold into a little pocket, crimp the edges and bake. These are just like having pizza for lunch, but with none of the mess!

 

Kebabs

Everything is more fun on a stick. So why not pack your children fruit skewers or meat and veggie kebabs on small, flat skewers. They are quick and easy to make, easy to eat and mess-free and even better, they are not the typical sandwich.

 

Quesadillas

Most children love cheese. Instead of packing your child a grilled cheese for lunch, why not pack a quesadilla? Your children will be happy you did.

 

Spring Rolls

Children and adults in Asia often eat spring rolls. You can make these delicious rolled up meals using rice paper wrappers or lettuce leaves. Fill them with grilled pork, chicken or shrimp and vegetables for a well-balanced lunch.

 

International Lunches

Help your children learn about the cuisine of other countries by preparing international foods for their lunch box. Start on Monday, and prepare a simple dish from a country of the child’s choice. Each day of the week, pick another country.

 

Cookie-cutter Sandwiches

If you have to make a classic sandwich, do something special with it. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes into the sandwich. This way your child can punch out the shapes. For more fun, make the shapes fit a theme, and see if your child can guess what the theme is.

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Apples

Why make a peanut butter and Jelly sandwich when you can do the same thing with a delicious, crunchy apple. Cut the apple in half, carefully remove the core, and then fill with delicious peanut butter and jelly.

 

Ants on a Log

While not an entire meal in itself, ants on a log is still a good way to spice up your child’s lunch box. A celery stick is your log, to which raisin “ants” are attached with peanut butter.

 

Roll-ups

If you have to use lunch meat in your child’s lunch, why not make a roll-up? Take deli turkey or ham. Then put a slice of cheese on it. Then put a lettuce leaf in the middle and roll tightly. Your children will never think of lunch meat the same again.

 

Miniature Hamburgers

Hamburgers are always a favorite. Grill small hamburger patties on an indoor grill the night before, and then pop them together the next morning. Your little ones will love it. You could also make baked French fries to go with it.

 

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Slices

Instead of including boring old apple slices in your kid’s lunch, why not give them cinnamon sugar apple slices instead? Simply put a bit of cinnamon and sugar in a baggie. Add apple slices and shake to coat.

 

Ocean Lunch

An ocean lunch is easy to make. Start with fish sticks. To accompany these, give your children blue Jell-o. Add gummy sea creatures for the ocean look.

 

Holiday-themed Foods

Is there a big holiday coming up? If so, holiday-themed foods are a great way to get the kids excited. Be creative! Boiled eggs with dyed shells are a great idea for Easter, for example.

 

 Sports Lunch

If your child loves sports, use that to your advantage. Make them a stadium-themed lunch. Turkey hot dogs, homemade nacho dip and tortilla chips for dipping make a perfect lunch.

 

Tortilla Stars

Instead of serving your child boring old tortilla chips, make tortilla stars instead. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut two or three-inch star shapes from a tortilla. Top with cheese and spices. Bake cheese side down on a baking rack till golden.

 

Vegan Lunch

For those of you with children who are vegan/vegetarian, tofu nuggets are an excellent option. Include a few small cups of your children’s favorite dipping sauce, some carrot sticks and a healthy drink option, and you are good to go.

 

School lunches do not have to be boring. In fact, they can be quite unique, as the list above proves. Use your creativity and imagination, and the sky is the limit.

Shakespeare Made Fun

 

You’ve likely heard your students complain about Shakespeare before. Every teacher has. He is hard to read. His work is boring. His work is not easily relatable. As a teacher, you know these complaints are quite untrue except perhaps for the difficulty in reading Shakespeare’s English. But how do you share the joy of Shakespeare’s work with your students while still making it fun? This article will explore several Shakespeare-themed activities which you and your students can do, and at the end if they still do not like Shakespeare, at least they will be able to say they had fun and learned about this brilliant wordsmith anyhow.

 

All The World is a Stage

Set the stage. If you are going to study Hamlet, for example, turn off the classroom lights, and set LED tea lights on tables and desks throughout the classroom to give the feel of a dark, slightly spooky night. Be sure to set the tea lights somewhere where they are not a distraction to students. You could even create a night backdrop. If you are going to teach Romeo and Juliet, you could create a scene that looks like the iconic window. Use inexpensive props, and your classroom will look like a Shakespeare set in no time. As a bonus, students will realize something is different, and will likely pay more attention.

 

Playlists

As you study the sections of a Shakespeare play, make sure to ask your students their thoughts on the characters. Discuss the character’s motives and personalities so that your class gets to know the characters. Then ask them to do a 3-5 song playlist of their favorite characters. With each song choice, ask them to include a two-paragraph mini essay explaining why they chose the song they chose. If you wanted, you could even ask them to properly cite song lyrics. Your students will much more easily remember that Justin Bieber was Romeo than simply answering questions about who Romeo killed on a reading quiz.

 

Hamlet’s Father

If you are studying Hamlet, you could have a discussion of the various ways to create Hamlet’s father’s ghost. Have your students discuss various ways of creating the ghost, including puppets, bedsheets ghosts, and anything else your students think up. Then discuss how the ghost was created in Shakespeare’s time. Be sure to discuss what makes the ghost foreboding.

 

Perform a Mini Play

A full play would be difficult to perform in a small space, but you could perform one scene from the play you are studying. Assign each student a character part. If you have more students than characters, assign some to make sound effects, flash the lights to make lightning or raise and lower backdrops. This way, your students can feel as if they are part of the Shakespeare experience.

 

Your lessons on Shakespeare do not have to be boring! They can be fun, informative and memorable. With the above activities, you can teach your class Shakespeare in a way they will never forget. Also, these are just a few suggestions to get you started. Use your imagination and creativity, and you can probably come up with many more. Believe us, your students will thank you.

Using YouTube in the Classroom

As technology becomes more integrated into education methods, utilizing YouTube in the classroom is a trend on the rise. Early studies testing its effectiveness are proving promising.

In high school classrooms in Detroit, a video-enabled flipped classroom program helped reduce the fail rate for freshmen English and math classes by more than half. Additionally, semester to semester, discipline cases dropped from 736 to 249.

Used well, it’s clear that video can be a powerful educational tool. And it’s gaining traction, too—Education-oriented video channel TedEd has over a million subscribers.

How can you tap into this trend and enhance your students’ learning experience with YouTube? Here are some tips.

  • Create YouTube playlists as resources for the lessons.
  • Record class lessons and post them on YouTube for to access for on-demand review.
  • Keep videos short—no more than 10 minutes long—and opt for high-energy videos that will engage.
  • Use videos to bring a lesson to life: Watch a poet recite her own work, pull a segment of a play based on a book you’re reading, or show a reenactment of a moment in history.
  • Bring in a guest lecturer by showing filmed addresses from experts in fields you’re studying in class.
  • Every student’s learning pace is a little different. For students who take more time, sharing relevant videos for review can help students get the extra support they need. For students who are ahead of the pack, look for videos that can take lessons to the next level, keeping advanced students engaged.
  • Take advantage of education-oriented video tools like TeacherTube, TedEd, and YouTube for Schools to ensure quality educational content.
  • Don’t use video to replace lessons, only to supplement them.
  • The Internet, YouTube included, is full of all kinds of content, some extremely questionable for a classroom. Always watch videos all the way to the end before showing them to students, and never let students surf video content on their own.

A Powerful Educational Tool

When used wisely, YouTube can be a powerful tool to enhance students’ learning process. Early studies indicate significant improvements in performance and even in-class behavior when videos are used to enhance lessons. With some mindful application, you can tap into this potential to enrich your students’ education.