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.

Fun & Healthy Lunchbox Ideas for Kids

Many studies have proven that children need to eat a nutritious breakfast in order to perform well at school, but what most parents don’t realise is that having a healthy, balanced lunch is just as important.

Children need a nutritious meal in the middle of the day to re-boost their concentration and give them the energy they need to power through the mid-afternoon slump and get the school day finished.

 

School Provided Food

Most schools regularly send home information about what food or meal plans are offered through the cafeteria. Look through the material with your children and plan on the days when your child will eat from the school’s menu, and what days he or she will take a packed lunch. If your child would like to purchase his or her lunch from a school vending machine, be sure to check that they stock healthy choices your child can choose from such as yoghurt, fresh fruit and water.

 

Packed Lunches

Providing a packed lunch for your child can be a fine balancing act. Parents who prepare their children’s lunches realise that they are playing an important role in their child’s diet, and overall health.

Studies have shown that children who are healthy and eat well balanced meals tend to out-perform those who do not, particularly in school. This means that it is important to ensure that each lunch is healthy and filling, providing an opportunity for your child to do their best at school.

A nutritionally balanced diet should contain a mixture of the following:

 

  • A filling, starchy food such as bread, rice, pasta
  • A food high in protein such as egg, meat or beans
  • One or two serves of fruit or vegetables
  • A low fat dairy item such as cheese of yoghurt

 

These items can be made fresh, or can even be made up from leftovers. Whatever you use, make sure you add variety – mot children do not enjoy eating the same things every day so play around with the following ideas and introduce them to some healthy new foods:

  • Carrot or celery sticks with hummus
  • Trail mixes
  • Wholegrain pretzel sticks with herbed cream cheese
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit salad
  • Cheese cubes
  • Fruit and nut quinoa
  • Beef jerky
  • Tapioca pudding
  • Fresh fruit and yoghurt
  • A few small squares of dark chocolate
  • Homemade sushi
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Sugar snap peas and sour cream dip
  • Fruit or vegetable kebabs
  • Pickles with tzatziki dip
  • Mini muffins
  • English muffin pizzas
  • Pasta salad
  • Unsweetened apple sauce
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Apple slices with peanut butter
  • Mini pancakes with honey
  • Filled pita bread
  • Sliced bell pepper and salsa
  • Rice salad
  • Meat roll ups

These simple, healthy ideas will boost your child for an active afternoon and will fuel their bodies to support their learning.

 

If you are providing a packed lunch, be sure to also keep these tips in mind:

  • Always pack lunches the night before – that way you won’t be tempted to quickly add packets of processed foods because you are rushing.
  • Ensure that your child’s lunch box or bag is clearly named in case it gets lost.
  • Involve your kids in the lunch-making process. Having your child help you will help to teach them about making healthy choices and will increase the likelihood that they eat their lunch, since they helped put it together themselves.
  • Think about what packaging you will use. Most schools now prefer ‘rubbish-free’ lunches which means using small reusable containers. Just make sure they can open them independently, and that they are secure and won’t leak.
  • Don’t give into peer pressure. Children are masters at telling parents what the other children are having in their lunch. Only you know what is right for your child – go with your gut.
  • Be creative! Kids love tiny portions, fun shapes and variety! Experiment with cookie cutters, toothpicks and make sure the lunchbox contains a variety of color to keep them interested.

How To Thank Your Contributors

In a study of 50 nonprofits and 2 million contributors detailed by Fundraiser123.org, as much as 70 percent of nonprofits had not followed up with contributors a month after their donation. Thirty-seven percent never even emailed a thank-you at all.

When your nonprofit sends a timely thank-you, it stands out in a compelling way. It also motivates contributors to develop a bond with your organization.

According to NonprofitMarketingGuide.com, 65 percent of first-time contributors never give a nonprofit a second donation. However, 80 percent of those one-time contributors said a prompt thank-you could have persuaded them to give again.

Those two simple words, “thank you,” are very powerful. But it’s not enough to know the value of a thank-you. How you thank contributors matters, too.

Here are some tips to make sure your thank-you’s to contributors resonates. 

  • Send a card
    When selecting stationery for a thank you note, get away from the organization’s letter template and opt for a card instead—it implies a personal message instead of a business one.
  • Use the person’s name
    This is another important way to be personal with your message. Avoid blanket terms like “donor” or “friend,” and use contributors’ names instead to show people that they matter to you.
  • Show the impact
    In your note, briefly share a success story or recent accomplishment the organization has reached to show how the person’s donation is making a difference. Put the spotlight on the contributor—they have made this accomplishment possible.
  • Extend an invitation
    Encourage the contributor to get more involved by inviting them to an upcoming free event or for a tour of the organization’s work site—but avoid anything that involves additional donations. You could also encourage them to follow you on social media. 
  • Acknowledge past gifts
    If a contributor has a history of giving to your organization, be sure to recognize that. It can be as simple as thanking the contributor for another gift, or you can get creative and show how the person’s cumulative donations have added up for a greater positive impact.
  • Sign from a specific staff member
    Sending a thank-you from an individual in a leadership position at the organization makes the note personal. 

Saying “thank you” to contributors matters—and so does how you say it. To keep contributors motivated to support your cause long-term, send prompt, personal thank-yous within a month of every donation. It’s not just a matter of savvy business practices—it’s also the polite and kind thing to do.

Backpack Safety

With the summer coming to a close, matters such as uniforms, stationery and bus routes are often at the top of any parents mind, as children everywhere start preparing for their return to school. However, one important piece of school equipment is commonly overlooked: the backpack.

While buying whichever backpack is in fashion, or the least expensive might be your first port of call, it is important to keep in mind what the best fit might be for a healthy backpack. Not all backpacks are created equal, and your child will wear whichever pack you choose every day, so it’s worth taking the time to ensure that you have chosen a backpack that will help your child to be comfortable and secure throughout the entire school day.

A backpack is an essential item that no school child can do without but according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 28,000 injuries are treated in emergency rooms each year due to wearing backpacks. The following are our tips for ensuring that your child’s backpack is the best fit. A child wearing an inadequate backpack or wearing one incorrectly can lead to muscle strains, pain and fatigue.

Get your child started off on the right foot this school year by making sure they have the right backpack, and know how to wear it properly.

 

Buying

  • When buying a backpack, choose one with wide, padded straps and a padded back. The padding will provide additional support and stop the straps from digging into your child’s shoulders when the backpack is full
  • If the school allows it, consider purchasing a rolling backpack – this will give your child some respite from wearing it all the time if it contains a heavy load. Just make sure that the backpack fits into your child’s locker
  • Choose a backpack that is no wider or longer than your child’s torso. Have your child try the backpack on and check that it fits from around two inches below your child’s shoulder blades to their waist
  • Make sure your child can stand straight with the backpack on – if they lean forward when the backpack is on then it doesn’t fit them correctly
  • If you purchase a backpack online, make sure there is a return policy just in case it fits your child poorly and needs to be exchanged
  • Consider choosing a backpack with a hip belt – these help to relieve some of the weight, particularly taking it off the shoulders and neck
  • According to studies, almost 80 percent of school children think their bag is too heavy. Don’t purchase a larger bag, hoping it will last longer – buy a bag that is size appropriate for your child’s age
  • Take into account the weight of the bag before you buy it – canvas and cotton bags weigh less than leather
  • Make sure the backpack has a drink bottle holder on the outside to avoid spillage and consequent problems such as stains or mildew

 

Wearing

  • Don’t overload backpacks with unnecessary items. Make sure it has all the essentials but does not weight more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s overall body weight.
  • If your child has a lot of heavy books to carry, encourage them to leave as much as they can in their locker or desk while at school, and leave any unnecessary items at home. If this is not possible, offset some of the weight by using a book bag which can be carried separately
  • Make good use of all the compartments in a backpack so that the weight is distributed as evenly as possible. Properly utilising compartments also makes it easier for kids to find the things they need quickly
  • If your child is carrying heavier items, make sure they are packed as close to the back as you can, in the center of the bag
  • Don’t allow your child to sling their backpack over one shoulder – both straps should be used to avoid straining muscles and causing poor posture

 

If you notice anything unusual about your child when they are wearing their backpack, check it. Changes in posture, pain, red markings, numbness or difficulty taking the bag off or on can all be signs that the backpack is too heavy or is inadequate.

 

 

 

Relay For Life

Image by SOMBILON PHOTOGRAPHY
Image by SOMBILON PHOTOGRAPHY

The Relay for Life is a cornerstone fundraising event organized by the American Cancer Society. This overnight walk/run event is sure to challenge and inspire.

It’s also a great way to support the fight against cancer.

Relay for Life brings 4 million people together each year across 20 countries to fight against cancer with funds to promote awareness, research and treatment.

What to expect
Relay for Life is an overnight event, often stretching for 24 hours in total, and usually takes place on a running track. Teams work together to keep a representative walking or running on the track at all times during the event—because cancer never sleeps.

Meanwhile, participants and supporters camp out along the sidelines as they celebrate survivors, remember those lost, and fight back by raising awareness and funds for the cause.

Take a lap
Every Relay for Life event starts with three walks around the track. The first lap is a Survivor Lap—cancer survivors are invited to walk together around the track to celebrate that they have overcome the disease. For the second lap, caregivers for cancer patients are honored as they walk together. In the third lap, all team members are invited to take to the track to kick off the Relay together. 

Other traditions
The Relay for Life is more than a fitness accomplishment—it challenges and inspires. Throughout the night, teams and others support the walkers while partaking in family games, activites and entertainment.

One popular activity that often takes place during a Relay for Life event is a Luminaria Ceremony. During this nighttime activity, participants light candles and/or luminaria bags to remember those who passed away from cancer, as well as those who are fighting it now.

The event closes with the Fight Back Ceremony. During this closing ceremony, All team members take a final lap together, and pledge to take action to raise awareness and funds for cancer research, treatments and prevention.

Help fight back against cancer
With events in more than 5,200 communities all over teh world each year, Relay for Life raises over $400 million annually for American Cancer Society’s life-saving work to prevent and treat cancers of all kinds.

Are you ready to Relay? Find a Relay for Life event near you here.

Most Common Summer Allergies

most common summer allergies
Image by Alex Graves

For most of us, summer brings bright sun, hot days, and great times at the beach and neighborhood BBQs. But for some, summer can be prime allergy season.

To help you battle unwelcome stuffed noses, itchy skin, hives, and more, here are some of the most common allergies that aggravate people during the summer season:

1. Pollen
One of the most infamous allergy culprits out there, many of pollen’s worst perpetrators flourish in the summer. While in the spring pollen mostly comes from trees and flowers, in the summer, it’s from weeds such as ragweed.

If you’re allergic to pollen, you’re likely to experience symptoms including congestion, itchy eyes, sneezing, and/or coughing at this time of year.

2. Stings & Bites
Bees, wasps and other bugs come out in this season. No one likes to get stung, but for some of us, a stinger can cause a much bigger problem than for others—for some, it’s life-threatening.

To reduce your risk, limit your time outside. Don’t linger outside with uncovered food, especially sugary ones like soda that will draw bees and other bugs in. Those with very serious or life-threatening allergies should carry a self-care kit (such as an Epi-Pen) at all times and wear a MedicAlert bracelet.

3. Mold
If your reactions kick in later in the summer or early into fall, the trigger might be mold. This summer-to-fall transition time is when some types of mold spore—in fact, it can be an even greater allergy issue than pollen.

Mold allergies trigger symptoms very similar to pollen—if you’ve got an itchy eyes, nose or throat; sneezing; or congestion, it could be a mold allergy.

4. Poison Ivy
Leaves of three, let it be—this helpful Boy Scouts mnemonic device can help you avoid poison ivy’s itchy and highly spreadable rash.

Reactions to poison ivy can be very tame or quite extreme, and can take from a few hours to a full week to show. But most people are at least a little allergic, and you won’t know how much until you’re experiencing it.

If you get it, wash the exposed area immediately with soap and water. Contain the rash by resisting the urge to scratch, applying hydrocortisone cream to it, and keeping the rash covered with a bandage.

If touching poison ivy leads to difficulty breathing or swallowing, swelling, or the rash covers most of your body, get to the ER immediately.

5. Sunscreen
Sunscreens are essentially a combination of chemicals, so it may not be not surprising it could trigger an allergy. It’s actually a fairly rare allergy, but certainly a good one to know about, if you do.

A sunscreen allergy can be caused by blocking agents in the sunscreen, or even a fragrance that has been added to it. Regardless of the cause, look for symtoms such as itching or a rash/blisters on the skin. If you experience these kinds of symptoms, try a hypoallergenic formulas. If the reaction still persists, see a doctor.

Bear in mind that sometimes the reaction only occurs when the formula touches the skin and there is also sun exposure—so if you applied on your shoulders and then put a t-shirt on, you may only get a rash on your forearms.

To address this kind of allergic reaction, wash the area with soap and water to remove the sunscreen. Then, apply a cortisone cream or oral antihistamine to help relieve itching and swelling. Avoid the sun until healed.

Don’t Let Allergies Hold You Back
Summer allergies are common, but they don’t have to stop your fun! Most allergies treatable with simple over-the-counter treatments, but always talk to your doctor before self-medicating, and make sure you fully understand your risks.

Climb Stairs For Cancer Awareness

What burns twice as many calories as running and offers a more complete body workout? Climbing stairs.

Many are finding the challenge of a stair climb race to be more exhilarating than a typical run, and it’s rising in popularity as a competitive sport around the world—it’s even in the Olympics.

What to give it a try? Nonprofits are jumping on board to take advantage of this growing trend for fundraisers. As a result, there are stair climb events popping up all over the place that not only offer a great fitness challenge, but also let you give back to a great cause. Among them are many that nonprofits dedicating to fighting against cancer.

Here are a few of the most popular and most interesting:

Fight for Air Climb
If you’re looking for an opportunity close to home, the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb takes place at locations all over the country. Hosted in skyscrapers, stadiums, and arenas, Fight for Air Climb events raised over $7 million last year for health education, research and advocacy for lung-related diseased, including lung cancer.

Outclimb Cancer Challenge
Huntsman Cancer Foundation organizes Salt Lake City’s annual Outclimb Cancer Challenge at the 24-story Wells Fargo Center. A great event for both competitive climbers and beginners, this event lets you scale the event to your fitness level by letting you decide how many stories to climb (and how many times you want to reach the top!).

Big Climb Seattle – Climb. Conquer. Cure.
The Big Climb Seattle event for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is an extremely popular one—the 2015 event sold out in just nine hours! It takes place at the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle, which boasts status as the second tallest building west of the Mississippi.

Stair Climbing Australia Race Series
If you want to get adventurous, consider the Stair Climbing Australia Race Series. These races for competitive stair climbers will take you all over the country, with challenges like climbing 100 flights of stairs at the Sydney Tower Eye and the Sea to Sky Challenge at Australia’s tallest building. Each race supports a good cause, including cancer.

Hustle up the Hancock
This race up Chicago’s iconic Hancock Building, known for its stellar views of the city’s skyline, offers a great incentive to hurry up all 94 floors. But if that’s just too many steps for you, there is also a half-climb option that stops at the 52nd floor. Each step helps support research and education to fight against lung disease via the Respiratory Health Association, including lung cancer. At the 2015 event, participants collectively climbed an estimated 1.5 million steps.

Step Up for a Good Cause
Are you ready to step up to the challenge of a stair climb for cancer? It’s a sport that’s on the rise, and a challenging alternative to the usual fundraiser run that’s sure to whip you into shape. To get started, check out these training tips. Then, get climbing!

With stair climbing’s rising popularity, odds are there’s one near you. But if not, consider starting your own.

Sorority Fundraising: A Five-Step Guide

Every sorority has different purposes and characteristics, but what they all have in common is philanthropy.

Philanthropy and community service is usually the foundation of most fraternities and sororities. Each year, chapters all over the United States raise millions of dollars for worthy causes, or for their own foundations. Sororities, in particular, are by their very nature, built upon the idea of charity, service and sisterhood. Fundraising is a crucial component of sorority membership and management and is a fantastic way to increase participation and enthusiasm on campus.

Here’s our 5-Step Guide to executing a successful fundraiser for your Sorority;

1. Fundraising Committee

Firstly, a fundraising sub-committee should be established within your group. This may be just two-three members or it may be 80% of the membership – that will be determined by how much interest, time and sisters there are to spare. No matter how many people the committee has, what’s important is that there is a group of interested volunteers who are willing to commit their time and effort into raising money.

Once these members have been established, have a discussion about what abilities and skills those members bring to the table. This will allow people to take on tasks that are most suited to their talents. You will need to make some decision about what roles are needed for the committee to host the event, and who is going to step into those roles.

One person will need to take on the role of the ‘administrator’. This person will be in charge of keeping the event cohesive, following up with committee members to ensure that tasks have been completed and taking care of any hitches that may arise. This ensures that there is at least one person who can see the ‘bigger picture’, while people are going about their tasks.

 

2. Choosing an Event

The most crucial decision to the success of the entire event is going to be choosing the right event. It’s important to keep your ideas fresh – nobody will leap at the chance to attend the exact same event as you held last year, or one similar to what the fraternity down the road held last month. Choose something original – uniqueness will attract much more attention!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Casino Night
  • T-Shirts
  • Inspiring Women Night (with guest speakers)
  • Mardi Gras
  • Car Wash
  • Dance Marathon
  • Wristbands
  • Battle of the Bands
  • Sell Toilet Paper
  • Bingo Night

Getting sponsors is a fantastic way to cut down costs and increase the fundraising potential. Just be sure that any companies or products you are engaging with for the fundraiser are verified and safe, and make sure that you have checked any boxes you may need to with your college administration. You don’t want to get too far into the planning only to find out that you have forgotten to file the necessary paperwork.

 

3. Logistics

Now that you have your committee and your event established, some of the technical details must be set in place.

Think about the following:

  • What is the fundraising budget?
  • What is the fundraising goal?
  • What resources are needed, and what is available?
  • How long will the fundraiser last?
  • Who will perform which steps?
  • When will it take place?
  • What promotion will you use?
  • Who will be there on the day?

At this stage, each committee member needs to be delegated roles so they can move forward with carrying out their event responsibilities. Make sure that everyone is clear about what is needed, and is comfortable with doing the tasks they have been assigned.

Decide how the event communication will be managed. Will there be regular committee meetings or can it be done through email or a Facebook group? Make sure the administrator is clear about how he or she will communicate with all of the members, and how you will all be able to contact each other if needed.

 

4. Promotion

Now that there are some concrete details revolving around your event, you need to establish a plan for the event’s promotion.

In the busy planning stages of how the event will be run, it can be easy to forget that promotion is crucial. As with anything in life, you get out what you put in. You will need to ensure that there are some members of the fundraising committee who will be actively promoting the event.  The hours that are put into this will pay off.

Publicize your fundraising event as far in advance as possible. This allows people to save the date as well as generate excitement and word of mouth about the event itself. Be sure to include crucial details when promoting it such as where, when and what the cause is. Ensure that people know why your cause deserves to be supported, and what the benefits are to them (a cool new t-shirt, a great night out etc…)

The easiest and cheapest ways to spread the word are by telling people about your event. Create a Facebook and Twitter page and get posting the information as early as possible. Ask everyone in your networks to promote your event and hand out flyers for people to put on their dorm room doors and cars. Make an awesome video, upload it to YouTube and have everyone in your sorority share it around. You might even consider running a competition and sourcing a donated prize for the person who shares the video the most on social media.  If your event is interesting, you can even approach local press and ask if they would be interested in covering the event. This can be fantastic exposure for both the event and for your cause.

Remember: promotion is not the area in which to cut corners. You must promote the event with every resource available to you, in order to pull it off successfully.

 

5. The Day

On the day of the event, ensure that you have enough people present that everything is in place and organized. If possible, have one or two people there who don’t have any other responsibilities other than coming to the aid of any last minute disasters.

Be sure to thank each and every person who contributes, whether they be a volunteer or a ‘customer’ at the event – every dollar helps and contributions are valuable whether big or small. Be kind and smile to your donors as you let them know how valued their support is to the sorority and its philanthropic goals.

Lastly, have a great time! The planning and hard work that was put in by your sorority and volunteers all comes to fruition today. Enjoy engaging with people, and watching that hard work turn into dollars and cents for the causes that your sorority cares about. You did a great thing – now have some fun!

 

 

Tips For First Teachers

So you’ve graduated, and you’ve just landed your first teaching job – congratulations!

Being a first year teacher is hard going. You have new names to learn and a classroom of children and their parents to get to know, all while you are finding your feet in your new career. This list of tips will offer practical advice on ways to manage your students, work with parents, keep yourself organised and survive your first weeks in the classroom.

Just remember: experience is going to be the best way to establish your teaching career, so make sure you jump in, boots and all. You will learn more in your first month than you learnt in the years you went to college, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared!

 

Organise

It is crucial that you be as organised as possible before you start, and that you maintain that organisation throughout the school year. Ensure that you have established an organisational system that works for you before your first day. A few minutes spent shuffling through papers can lead to chaos among your students so make sure you know where everything is, and you know exactly what is in store each day. When you arrive, put the day’s plans up on the board before class begins. That way, everyone is clear about where you are heading as the day progresses.

It is also crucial that your students are organised, and this is going to require some assistance from you. Don’t assume that they will know how to organise themselves – be clear and concise about how their books and folders should be organised, and what you want their work to look like.

Lastly, expect the unexpected, and plan for it. No day as a teacher will ever be the same, so make sure your organisation allows for unforeseen circumstances, which will arise every now and then. That way…it won’t throw your entire system off when the unexpected happens.

 

Plan

As well as being organised, you are going to need to become a planner. When it comes to teaching a full classroom, over planning is going to be the name of the game. For every hour of teaching time, make sure you have enough for two hours. The day and the lessons will go faster than you expect, and there’s nothing worse than those dreaded moments where you are not sure what to do next.

While you will not always need to spend so much time planning, you will need to take extra time to do this in your first year. Think of your first year in the teaching world as a sacrificial year – you will spend much more time planning and preparing this year than you will any other, because you haven’t written any lesson plans yet. Just make sure you hold onto anything you create in your planning – you will want to add to this and use it again in years to come.

 

Take Charge

Teaching is the one place where it’s not only acceptable, but necessary, to be a little bossy. Make sure that you are clear about what behaviour is appropriate in the classroom, and what is not acceptable. You also need to be clear about what the rewards and consequences are for students, and then you need to use as much follow through as you can possibly muster – empty threats will be the death of you. It is far easier to start out strict and loosen the rules later, than it is to try and rein in out-of-control behaviour later. Learn your school’s policies and procedures so that you know what the usual process is to follow, and then draw up a disciplinary plan. Never, ever allow students to ‘get away with it’. Your students need a teacher, not another friend.

In addition, be sure to inform parents of what is expected, and of the rewards and consequences. Send home a copy of the discipline plan, and ask parents to read through it with their children, clarifying anything they do not understand. This way you know that both parents and students know what is expected.

Above all, model the attitude and behaviours that you desire from your students. Monkey see….Monkey do.

 

Involve Parents

In addition to involving parents in matters of classroom discipline, be sure to involve them as much as you can, in every area of your teaching. The learning process needs to involved everyone – parental communication can make a significant difference in the education of a child. Make sure you keep parents up to date with their child’s progress, and how they can help to develop your child’s abilities and education at home.

Make sure you also keep in mind parental support when you are trying to organise projects. If you need items for a celebration, send a note home asking for donations. Most parents love to contribute, and if you don’t ask for the things you need, then they don’t have the opportunity to.

 

 

Make Friends 

Get to know the other teachers and become good friends with them – they will be priceless! This is going to be invaluable for your first year’s journey and its success. Taking advice and bouncing ideas around with your colleagues who are more experienced in teaching, and in the mechanics of the school, is going to help you find your way that little bit faster. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – most teachers are more than happy to share their experiences and tips for managing the classroom.

Just make sure that you do not try to be another teacher. Be unique –you will soon learn what works for you, and can adapt their advice to suit your teaching style.

 

Keep a Stash

Find a drawer, a shelf or a box and keep some essentials in it. You should include:

  • An over-the-counter painkiller for headaches
  • An extra set of clothing (you never know with children: paint, glue or vomit are all distinct possibilities)
  • A couple of power bars for days where you just didn’t get time to eat

 

 

No matter how organised you are, some days the score board will read Students: 20, Teacher: 0. You will inevitably make mistakes (and learn from them) and there will always be ‘those days’. Just remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to get better at this. Do your best, keep your chin up and try to have fun.

And remember to play the ‘rookie card’. You will only be a new teacher for the first year, so cut yourself some slack and forgive yourself for making mistakes. And if all else fails…fake it till you make it!

 

22 Fun Activities for Summer

We all know that the novelty of not going to school wears off after a few days, before the ‘bored’ whining sets in, so be prepared with some great ideas for outdoor activities to keep boredom at bay, and raise your children’s Vitamin D levels!

Outdoor activities don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. From nice messy projects that kids will love to get stuck into, to more structured projects that will produce something useful, you will be sure to find lots of fun in this imaginative list of activities kids will love! Make this summer the best ever by setting aside some time for outdoor lessons and activities that will provide great entertainment for the whole family.

Get the most out of this summer by…..

 

  1. Going on a Picnic

An oldie, but a goodie! Combining the simple pleasures of fresh air, sunshine and good food never seems to get old. Picnics are the perfect activity for those days when you just want to get away from the house and make an afternoon of it. Pack lots of heat tolerant finger foods and pick a spot that will provide a relaxed setting where the kids can play safely and the adults can unwind.

 

  1. Bug Hunting

Bug hunting is a fantastic way to connect kids to the natural world and is a great activity for days when you don’t want to leave the house. Exploring their own backyard will encourage inquisitiveness and imagination in your children and will keep them busy for hours! Grab some tweezers, a magnifying glass and some clean containers and set about seeing what you can find. A good place to start is by turning over rocks, and looking around the base of trees.

 

  1. Running Through a Sprinkler

Setting up a backyard sprinkler is a great way to cool the kids off without all the rigmarole of taking them to the pool. If you don’t have a sprinkler, poke some holes in a large soda bottle and tape it to the hose.

 

  1. Sun-Melting Crayons

Melting crayons and making a piece of artwork or new crayons is a great way to teach children about the power of the sun, as well as creating something new. To make a piece of artwork, lay some crayon pieces on a piece of tinfoil or canvas, and let the sun do the rest. To make new crayons, lay some cookie cutters on a piece of tin foil and fill with crayon pieces.  Once the sun has done its job turning the solid pieces to liquid, bring the whole thing inside to cool and set.

 

  1. Making a Water Table

Water tables are a deceptively simple way of keeping the kids entertained for hours, and the water that will inevitably get splashed everywhere, will also keep them cool in the summer heat. Change things up by using cold water, warm water, ice, adding a squirt of detergent for bubbles or even food coloring. The best part is that in the winter months you can transform the table by filling it with sand or dried beans and keep the fun going all year round!

 

  1. Painting Rocks

This is a simple but fantastic activity because it teaches your children about art as well as geology. Clean the rocks first and let them dry completely, then outline the design in marker before getting creative with paint! Seal the rock with a 50/50 mix of water and white glue and you’re done! These also make excellent paper-weight gifts for grandparents and teachers!

 

  1. Washing the Car

Kids love this, and adults do too – because it gets the car clean! Let the kids fill the buckets with water and soap, and get them to do the pre-rinse with the hose. Brush any bugs or tar off yourself before they start, and then let them get crazy with the lathering! Once you’ve done the final rinse, make sure you ‘accidentally’ rinse the kids a bit as well…they’ll love it!

 

  1. Going Foraging

Foraging is a great way to teach children about where food comes from, as well as using surplus resources in your area. Take a walk around your neighbourhood and see if you can spot fruiting trees that need some relief, or go a bit more ‘bush’ and look for things like chickweed, watercress and nettles. Just be sure you do your homework first!

 

  1. Slipping ‘n’ Sliding

Easy to create, and fun for the whole family, the quintessential slip ‘n’ slide is a must have for this summer’s calendar. Put down a tarpaulin, or some painter’s plastic on a piece of backyard that offers a slight gradient, and let the fun begin! Hang the hose over a tree branch or the clothesline for ‘hands-free’ convenience and be sure to use some inexpensive dish detergent to get just the right amount of ‘slip’.

 

  1. Creating a Stepping Stone for Your Garden

A quick search of this will bring up some great ways you can create these using easy mix concrete and moulds but the easiest way by far is to go and buy some cheap pavers (you can even find them free on places like Craiglist) and paint them up with some exterior paint. Give the kids one each to decorate and create a beautiful path through your garden, that will add character and charm to any yard.

 

  1. Going Hiking

This can be done with children of all ages, but takes a bit of preparation, and a lot of patience. Be sure to start with short distances, and be willing to travel at the pace of the youngest in the family. Take plenty of snacks, don’t go too far from home and remember – hiking doesn’t have to be in the woods. Try hiking around your city, taking in the sites and the atmosphere!

 

  1. Coloring the Driveway or Patio

Sidewalk chalk is a great activity for those days when you might not have the energy yourself for a vigorous activity. Get the kids to trace each other’s body outlines, play tic tac toe, or design them a hopscotch or foursquare grid. Once they’ve done those, let them get creative and produce the most colourful artwork they can. If you don’t have any chalk you can create the same effect by making your own paint using water, food coloring and corn-starch. Be sure to take photos before the rain has a chance to was it all away!

 

  1. Playing Catch

Old-fashioned fun still has a place on our list! Get out there with your children, the dog and a ball (or water-filled balloons!) and waste the afternoon away.

 

  1. Participating in a Mini Olympics

Get everyone up, outside and moving by hosting an Olympics Game in your own yard! Plan a variety of challenges and make sure you work to everybody’s strengths so that everyone will have a chance at a medal. To make it more educational, ask your children to select a country to represent and have them make a flag to use in the parade. Make your own medals or pick some up at a dollar store, and award them at the end of the day.

 

  1. Going on a Nature Scavenger Hunt

This one is as fun to plan as it is to carry out. Draw up a checklist for your children to complete, ticking off each one as they have gathered the item. Keep items simple, using things like ‘two yellow flowers’, ‘a small rock’ and ‘a feather’. Have a ‘prize’ for the first person to complete the scavenger hunt with all the correct items, then spend the afternoon talking about the objects, feeling the textures and looking at what makes them unique.

 

  1. Making Homemade Bird Feeders

Fill your garden with birds this summer by inviting them in for a meal. Use whatever you have around the house – pinecones, old teacups or even cut oranges in half and scoop the rind out before filling them with seed. The birds will appreciate the snack as they pass through your garden, and the kids will enjoy watching them!

 

  1. Reading Books Outside

Get some extra Vitamin D by taking reading time outside. If it’s too hot you can sit in the shade, and you may even want to grab some nature books and talk about the things you see around you.

 

  1. Having a Water Fight

No matter how old one gets, if the weather is hot enough, water fights always seem like a good idea. Grab whatever you can find and get the kids wet. In fact, the wetter, the better! So grab your sponges, water guns or just set the hose on the kids and watch them run.

 

  1. Starting a Garden

Plant learning in the minds of your children this summer. It’s good for kids to learn that food comes from the ground, rather than the store, and there’s no better way to teach them than to start your own garden. Involve your children as much as you can – give them a space in the garden or a pot to call their own, offer them a choice in plants, and show them how to weed, water and collect seeds at the end of the season. The lessons learnt over a garden will foster a life-long love of growing and cultivating their own food.

 

  1. Running a Lemonade Stand

Lemonade stands take a bit of advance planning, but are a fantastic way to teach kids about earning money. Be sure to plan out the day in advance including what ingredients you will need, where the best location will be (think hot playgrounds, sports fields or in your front yard), what flyers or announcements you might want and when you will make the lemonade. Once the plan is in place enlist your children to help make a sign with a clearly visible price, and you’re in business!

 

  1. Making Wind Chimes

DIY wind chimes are a simple but fun activity that can be done indoors or out, and can be done with materials found around the home. Try using old cutlery, keys, beads or bottle caps. If you have time, you could even take the kids to the beach to collect sea shells and driftwood for a seaside themed wind chime.

 

  1. Playing Parachute

Even summer has the occasional rainy day, or lazy day where you just don’t want to venture outside. This makes the perfect occasion for playing ‘parachute’ like they do in elementary school. Grab a large sheet, move the furniture back in the living room and play some mini games – try getting the kids to throw cottonballs onto the parachute and watching them bounce when the parachute is shaken, or play ‘tag’ by calling out two names and having the children swap places while the sheet is in the air.