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.

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.

15 Tips for Teaching the Highly Functioning ASD Child

The needs of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the classroom can be very different from those of typical students in the class—even high-functioning ASD students require extra, and often, different kinds of support compared to typical students.

ASD students have unique challenges including difficulty reading social situations and making friends; adapting to changes in their routines; and remembering complex ideas or directions; among other things.

These unique challenges of ASD students require a different kind of support than the typical student, and often more support. Here are some ways that teachers can give their high-functioning ASD/Asperger’s student support to help him/her succeed in the classroom:

  1. ASD students can benefit from opportunities to socialize with other students—when the engagement is structured, such as offering a group game to play.
  2. Seat the ASD student next to an appropriate buddy who can share notes and provide a friendly, patient presence.
  3. Give your ASD student directions in writing when working independently.
  4. Offer visual cues like underlining or highlighting to help draw the child’s attention to the most important parts of test directions or homework assignments.
  5. Break complex or long projects into simpler tasks.
  6. Break down worksheets and long tests so there are fewer questions on each page. This gives the ASD student more room to write, while also letting him/her digest smaller amounts of information at once.
  7. ASD students often have very strong interests in certain areas. Implement those interests to keep them engaged while learning new concepts.
  8. If possible, work with your ASD student on keyboarding skills and let him/her take notes on a laptop instead of with pen and paper. Many ASD children have difficulty writing, which does not improve with practice.
  9. Provide a written/illustrated schedule for the ASD student to help them navigate through the day. If there is a change to the normal schedule, give the student early and frequent warning of the change.
  10. Allow the ASD student to fidget—such as chewing gum, doodling, or squeezing a ball—as this can actually help him/her maintain focus.
  11. When you see the ASD student getting restless, move so that you are positioned nearer to his/her seat, and offer reminders to stay focused as needed.
  12. Be clear about expectations for any activity before the ASD student begins. Have the student repeat the directions in his/her own words.
  13. A visual record of accomplishment, like a progress chart, can help reinforce appropriate behaviors.
  14. The ASD child may sometimes struggle when there is a lot going on around them. Provide a “quiet time” space s/he can go to for a time-out.
  15. Talk to other students in the class to help them understand the ASD child’s differences in a positive way, embracing differences.

When you find that things are running smoothly for your ASD student, this doesn’t mean that s/he is “cured” or that the issues have disappeared—it means that you’ve found a way to cope with those challenges that work well.

It can be difficult to predict when an ASD child will have outbursts sometimes, and it’s completely normal to feel frustrated at times. Be patient with the ASD student, keep communication open with the student’s parents. With persistence and understanding, these tips can help your ASD student find success.

What is Digital Learning?

As technology becomes more and more integrated into everyday life, it’s likely no surprise that it’s becoming a bigger part of education, too.

The Alliance for Excellent Education defines digital learning as “any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience.” A digital learning approach to education allows more flexibility in the classroom to let students work at their own pace, while familiarizing students with the technology skills they’ll need for the “real world.”

How can you promote digital learning in your community? Wednesday, February 17, is Digital Learning Day. Here are three ways to celebrate while learning more about digital learning for you and your students:

  • Host an event
    Grow awareness for digital learning’s role in education by organizing an event at your school or in your community. Get ideas and support to create your event here.
  • Teach an interactive lesson
    When teachers and technology come together, it’s a powerful combination for student learning. Try one out with your class using Digital Learning Day’s interactive lesson library.
  • Explore a new digital learning tool
    There are tons of different digital learning options out there. Even if you already use some, there’s bound to be something new out there. Why not give one a try? Start with this list of digital learning tools.

Digital tools empower learning

Digital learning is not just giving students tablets. It’s a more personalized approach to learning that is already proving to power better learning.

In fact, data from Project RED showed the use of technology-based interventions was a top predictor for student improvements on high-stakes test scores, reducing dropout rates, and completing courses for students who were struggling with reading, in special education programs, or learning English.

This is only one of many efforts that are already demonstrating the positive power of digital learning. So this Digital Learning Day, pick up a tablet and learn more about how you can empower students with technology.

How to Handle Bullying Situations In School

According to DoSomething.org, a whopping 3.2 million students are bullied each year. Most teachers want to help, but we can’t always prevent bullying situations from occurring, but we can be prepared to handle bullying properly when it does take place.

Here are some tips to handle bullying situations involving your students:

 

Responding to Acts of Bullying:

  • If you witness bullying taking place, act immediately and stay calm. If necessary, get a second adult to help.
  • However, don’t call out other students to publicly state what they saw, and don’t question the students involved in front of other kids. Don’t force the students involved to make up on the spot.
  • Instead, separate the students involved. Before anything else, check to make sure that they are all safe and uninjured. Don’t try to sort out the facts from the students on the spot, and don’t talk to the two students involved together.
  • Address any medical or mental health needs, and get the police or medical professionals involved immediately if there was a weapon involved, any kind of hate-motivated violence such as racism or homophobia, or sexual abuse.
  • Also involve the police if there were threats of violence or accusations of any kind of illegal act, such as a theft.
  • As you deal with the students involved, model the kind of behavior you want students to emulate. Stay calm, and listen without blaming. Speak to each student involved, keeping the involved parties separate.
  • Don’t call the act “bullying” while you are still collecting information about what happened.
  • Whatever you do, don’t ignore the situation—bullying is not something students will work out on their own.

 

Dealing With a Student Who Was Bullied

  • Assure the student it is not their fault. Focus on the student to understand what the situation is, and show them you want to help.
  • Ask the student what would make them feel safe—but keep changes to their routine at minimal as possible, as the bullied student should not be singled out or penalized for being a victim. Work with schools, parents, and other relevant organizations to create a plan to ensure the student’s safety.
  • Never tell a student to just ignore a bully, and don’t blame the student for being bullied.
  • Children who are bullied sometimes struggle to talk about it, and may do better if referred to a mental health professional.

 

Dealing With a Bully

  • When addressing a bully, be clear about what the problem behavior is—and that bullying will not be tolerated.
  • Appropriate consequences for bullying behaviors focus on building empathy. For example, have the student lead a class discussion about how to be a good friend, or read a book about bullying.
  • It can also be beneficial to involve the student in making amends with the student who was bullied. This can include writing a letter apologizing, or paying for any property damaged. And of course, adhere to any guidelines in your school district’s code of conduct.
  • However, avoid using “zero tolerance” or “three strikes” approaches—witnesses to bullying tend to be less likely to report it if suspension or expulsion is the consequence.
  • Group treatment and peer mediation don’t work, either. Bullies tend to encourage bad behaviors in each other in groups, while mediation is only appropriate for parties who share equal blame.

 

Working for Safer Schools

A teacher can’t always prevent a bullying situation from occurring, but how you respond to one can be the difference between ongoing harassment and a brief incident. When adults act quickly and consistently to bullying, students get the message that this behavior is not acceptable, and research shows that this significantly reduces bullying behavior over time.

And remember, be persistent. Bullying is not likely to stop immediately, but by being diligent and working together with others at the school, you can create a safe environment for all students.

Family Literacy Day

Every year on January 27, Canada celebrates Family Literary Day. This annual awareness event was created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1992 with the mission of spreading word about the importance of reading and engaging in literacy-related activities as a family.

Literacy levels in Canada have become a serious issue. Here are some literacy awareness facts:

  • Increasing the literacy rate by 1 percent would generate $18 billion in economic growth annually
  • 42 percent of Canadian adults have a literacy level too low to keep up with the increasing information demands of modern life
  • In Ontario alone, only 61 percent of adults with the lowest literacy levels are employed
  • Meanwhile, 82 percent of those with the highest literacy levels are employed, but only make up 20 percent of the population
  • Seniors, native people, prisoners, people with disabilities, minorities and the long-term unemployed are more likely to have low literacy levels, and to be living in poverty

The fight to improve literacy throughout Canada starts in your own home. In honor of Family Literacy Day, take the pledge to engage your kids in “15 Minutes of Fun” every day and do an activity together that encourages reading, learning and creativity.

These activities can range from researching your favorite foods online to see if you can make them at home, to singing a conversation to the tune of your favorite song. See the full list of example activities here.

Sources: Canadian Library & Learning Network, The Excellence in Literacy Foundation, Literacy and Policing Project, Literacy Council

The Good Teacher’s Guide

A child’s education is nothing without a quality teacher to provide it.  But just what makes a good teacher?  What are the characteristics that all teachers should strive toward in order to have the biggest influence on their students?  Read on to learn all about the ways in which a teacher can go from being simply  a teacher to becoming a good, effective teacher.

 

Use Understandable Objectives and Goals

Every teacher needs a lesson plan, but if that plan is complicated, confusing, or does not seem to have an endgame in mind, it is useless.  Teachers often fall into the trap of teaching scattered subjects from all over the place, when in reality, a good teacher is one who can focus his or her time and energy and cover every subject in a sequential order.  In the same way, a teacher must provide consistent feedback through grades and notes.  The grading policy should not change in the middle of the year.

 

Engage While Teaching

Many teachers feel that all they have to do is stand in front of a class, give a lecture, ask a few questions, and move on.  This is one way to dispense information, but it is not a viable method of teaching successfully.  Students get bored with this type of instruction very quickly, and they do not retain much of the information provided if they are not engaged.  Ask students to look at facts that have presented and come up with their own conclusions.  Keep questions open-ended whenever possible, and be sure to call on students equally without returning to one or two favorites.

 

Know What You Teach

A great teacher must be an expert in his or her field of education.  If you teach science but cannot explain the difference between a proton and a neutron without looking it up, your students are going to lose faith in you quickly, and you will not be able to reach them.  To be a good teacher, you must be able to answer basic questions about your subject at the drop of a hat, and you should be prepared for students who want to study the topic more in-depth.  If you are good at what you teach, and you teach what you know, you are bound to make a connection with a few students who want to go on to focus on your field as well.

 

Talk To Parents

It may be daunting to try to communicate with parents, but this is a very important part of any good teacher’s job.  Schools usually require parent-teacher conferences at least twice per semester, but it can be beneficial to you and your students as well if you send home letters explaining how the student is doing throughout the year, or even reach out with a phone call if your school allows it.  If you are worried about how a student is doing, talk to the parents.  They will be pleased, and you will be better equipped to help that student succeed.

 

 

It does not take much to be a good teacher, and anyone can do it, but you may need to re-evaluate your methods in order to reach that goal.  Do not be afraid to try new things, to talk to parents and engage students, and to be sure you are well equipped to teach your subject matter.  If you follow these few tips, you will be well on your way to being an excellent teacher in no time.

Traditional Education: Does ‘later’ always mean ‘greater’?

Traditional education is, at its core, the most commonly practised form of education throughout much of the world.  This term refers to a back-to-basics way of teaching, where a single instructor (or perhaps an instructor with an aide, for larger classes) speaks to a group of students who are seated at desks or tables.  This teacher-driven type of education has been called into question in recent years, with some groups hoping to reform the educational system and provide students with a task-oriented learning environment that is not so rigidly structured.  This means that teachers must rethink their strategies and try to determine where they and their methods fall in the world of new education reform.

 

“Old School” Educational Methods

For a long time, education has been centered around traditional “old school” methods of providing students with information.  To this day, several of these methods are still used in the classroom, but they are becoming much less commonplace.  For example, English and vocabulary lessons are no longer based on the study of root words and phonics, as they once were.  Students of the past learned new vocabulary words by identifying their roots and thinking about where they could have come from.  The word “questionable,” for example, has a root word of “question,” which can lead a student to make a good guess as to what the word means.

Math, too, was once taught much differently than it is today.  Students were required to memorize their times tables when they learned multiplication, and classrooms were filled with math pupils who recited, in unison, simple multiplication based on number families.  Some schools even went so far as to have students write their times tables by hand over and over again to ingrain the information into their minds.

Even handwriting has fallen to the wayside and is no longer explored in the classroom the way it used to be.  Students are no longer taught cursive writing at all, save for in certain private schools, and penmanship is not a subject that is graded by teachers any longer.  Students are allowed to write in whatever hand they develop, so long as it is somewhat legible by the teacher.

 

New Methods of Teaching

There are many ways in which teachers are moving from these traditional, teacher-centered ways of presenting students with information and into a more hands-on, student-driven educational environment.  Perhaps the largest of these new methods is student engagement.  This refers to a teacher giving students basic information and then engaging them in a conversation about the subject matter.  Students learn analytical skills by thinking about the facts they have been given and working toward understanding why things happen the way they do, and how the information pertains to them and their personal lives.

Engagement also refers to giving students hands-on experience in any given subject.  Field trips are much more common in an engagement-driven classroom, and students visit locations where they can watch real world applications of the subjects they learn in school.  Even a local business office can be a great field trip location for students who want to see how math, communication, or other subjects can affect their adult lives.

Some teachers are beginning to adopt a concept called spaced learning for information presentation in the classroom.  This works with the short attention spans of today’s students by combining a small amount of rote memorization with plenty of fun activities to keep the brain moving.  In a spaced learning classroom, a teacher sets aside about an hour to an hour and a half of class time to focus on a subject.  The information is taught to the students first for about fifteen minutes, in a condensed format.  Students then break for a physical activity that lasts ten minutes, before returning to hear the same information repeated in the same order for another fifteen minutes.  The ten-minute physical activity break is repeated, and finally, the fifteen minutes of information is repeated once more to solidify the learning experience.

Spaced learning may seem a little strange at first, but it is a great way to keep students interested in the topic at hand by providing them frequent mental breaks.  The repetition of the information helps keep the subject fresh in their minds, and the physical activity keeps them from getting bored and losing focus.

 

Why Should Teachers Be Current?

It is very important for teachers to remain up to date with current trends in educational practices.  Prepared teachers who are willing to try new methods of helping students learn are some of the greatest teachers out there, and the results from their classrooms will surely prove that.  Continuing education courses as well as lectures from successful teachers can provide plenty of opportunity for educators to learn about new methods for their own classrooms.  As society and children change throughout the years, the needs of students and their ability to focus and pay attention also changes.  It is vital for teachers to be ready to combat these changes with a dynamic strategy for their lessons.

60 Class Projects for Art Teachers

It is well known among teachers that children respond well to art. Whether they are simply looking at it, learning about it or creating it, using art in the classroom is a fantastic way to get kids engaged and offers many benefits for their development.

According to studies, children who regularly participate in art are more likely to achieve academically, and are more likely to score higher marks in standardized testing. Studies also show that children enjoy coming to school to participate in art lessons as they enjoy the hands on focus of art lessons and producing pieces which they can take home and show off.

Art offers a very tangible sense of achievement for children –they learn the skills required, study the techniques and then produce something which demonstrates what they can do, to their audience (usually parents or grandparents). It helps to build confidence and encourages students to think positively about their education and about what they are capable of doing. Art is also a fantastic way to foster creativity in children young and old and helps them to develop their critical thinking skills as they learn to observe, analyse and synthesize the world through an artistic lens.

Statistically, engagement in art is linked to higher test scores, lower drop-out rates at high school level and increased engagement with their community as an adult. Even if you are not an artistic person, or you are teaching a group of students who are not particularly artistic, you should still consider integrating some art into your classroom. Using art can liven things up and expose your students to character building experiences.

Depending on the level of your students, you may want to try offering a variety of lessons using different mediums.

Here is our list of 60 different art lessons for your classroom.  Try making:

• Nature collages
• Portrait sketches
• Cartoon strips
• Shoe-box puppet theaters
• Finger paintings
• Scrapbooks
• Painting of fruit or vegetables
• Mobiles
• Fairy gardens in an ice cream container
• String art
• Melted crayon art
• Dyed pasta jewelry
• Homemade snow globes
• Paper snowflakes
• Origami
• Paper Mache’
• Paper lanterns
• Paper chains
• Yarn Easter eggs
• Potato stamped paper or fabric
• Decorated newsprint for personalized gift-wrap
• Sock puppets
• Salt dough pinch pots
• Christmas wreaths
• Paper dolls with split pins
• Christmas cookie ornaments
• Homemade greeting cards
• Dyed Easter eggs
• Paper beads
• Clay masks
• Painted national flags
• Create or color in coloring pages
• Picture frames from card
• Fingerprint trees
• Weaved paper coasters
• Button art
• Yarn wrapped letters
• Paint chip bookmarks
• Tie Dyed shirts
• Cups decorated with a sharpie
• Leaf paintings
• Coin rubbings
• Rock paintings
• Geometric drawings
• Foil art
• Paper plate masks
• Puffy paintings
• Bird feeders
• Painted pinecones
• Surrealist glue art
• Mixed media boards
• Milk art
• Modern tin art
• Bottle cap murals
• Body tracings
• Grape and toothpick sculptures
• Leaf printing on fabric
• Air dry dough beads
• Shaving cream marbled paper
• Plaster of Paris sandcasts

Whichever lessons you choose to work on with your class, remember – exposing children to art is not just about teaching them how to recognize a Picasso. It is about exposing young minds to experiences that will change their view of art, and the world.