Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Perhaps you will remember this Brilliant Idea, but there is a good chance that you won't, especially if the phone rings, or you notice that you are missing the match to your favorite pair of socks.
How many Brilliant Ideas are lost because the Thinker of the Thought did not take a few seconds to write it down?
So, the clear message of this post is: Write it down! You can use a pad of paper, a computer, a napkin, the back of your hand - it doesn't really matter as long as you get it down where it won't get lost. I know several people who carry little notebooks with them where ever they go for just this purpose. I personally am partial to 3x5 index cards. I keep them everywhere and my office is littered with index cards scrawled with cryptic notes that eventually find their way into a more readable and useful Word document.
This may seem like a one of those useless posts that tells you something you already know - and you probably did already know that it is a good idea to write down your good ideas. The question is, do you actually do it?
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Derek was third in line.
George was after Izzy.
Derek was after Meridith.
Izzy is was not first, neither was Meridith.
In what order were the children standing?
Bonus for the Grown Ups: Who are these people and which two of the four statements is "true."
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
and also Educarnival 2 at Successful Teaching
Second, there are some great ideas for mathematical Christmas gifts at Let's Play Math. You'll find a stunning set of suggestions for books, puzzle, and even handmade gifts!
Before they even left the chicken coop, three of them decided to stay behind to knit beak-warmers.
On the way to the road, half of the chickens decided to go for ice cream instead.
When the ones that were left got to the road, two thirds of them got frightened and went back to the coop.
Although brave, the ones that were left were also quite stupid. Five of them forgot to look both ways and got run over by a fox who was speeding by in his new SUV.
In the end, only one chicken successfully crossed the road.
How many chickens originally had decided to cross the road?
If you have ever played Speed Scrabble, this is pretty much the same game. If you have a Scrabble set, you can use the same letters. But it is nice not to have to break up the Scrabble set and with Bananagrams you get more duplicates of the interesting letters like Xs and Qs, not to mention the nifty carry-all bag.
Bananagrams was a big hit at our house. Both my kids (14 and 16) loved it. Here is what is good about this game:
- Everyone plays at once. No waiting for a turn.
- It makes spelling relevant. Throughout the game the kids were asking to see if they were spelling a specific word correctly.
- You have to think quickly to play.
- There are ample opportunities to try different strategies since you can rearrange your own grid at any point.
- Games last about 10 to 15 minutes so no one gets too discouraged if they are not doing well in a particular round.
- Playing this game makes you feel smart.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Mary is 2 years younger than George.
Billy is 4 years older than George.
George is twice as old as Mary.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Of course, you could buy one, but if you have the time (and the money - a lot of little things can add up fast!) it can be better to make one yourself. One problem with the pre-made variety is that the companies that make theset things don't know your child. This means your child will likely run out of what he or she likes best while other materials go untouched. Another problem is that often these kits are packaged in such a way that it is difficult to make everything fit back in the bin once your child is done for the day. You know your child, so you can put together a kit that is likely to be well used and much loved.
Three kits I would not advise making from scratch are magic kits, playdough kits (though you can make the actual playdough yourself), and most science kits. Better to buy those pre-assmebled. However, below, you will find several ideas for kits that do work well to assemble from scratch.
Craft Kit Great for the child who is loves to create. A plastic bin that opens from the top and has several compartments works well to hold the materials in this kit. You can find everything you need at your local crafts store. Some things you might want to include:
- construction paper
- colorful tissue paper
- sheets of colored foam
- Felt rectangles
- pre-cut foam or felt pieces
- colorful feathers
- colorful puff balls
- colorful pipe cleaners
- Fimo or other oven-baked modeling clay
- Popsicle sticks
- sequins, buttons, beads
- yarn, lanyard, ribbon
- tacky glue, Elmer's glue, glue sticks
- colorful Duct Tape
- scotch tape, double sided tape
- scissors, pattern scissors
- Markers, crayons, colored pencils
- a good set of drawing pencils (HB-B4)
- a pencil sharpener
- a white eraser and a kneaded eraser
- drawing charcoal
- quality colored pencils
- quality water colors
- several paint brushes
- sketch pads: large, medium, and pocket sized
- aname or other drawing book
- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- mixing spoon
- rolling pin
- mixing bowls
- Kid-sized apron
- Kid-sized chef hat
- Kid's cookbook
- 6-8 D cell batteries
- Battery holders
- flashlight-sized light bulbs
- light bulb holders
- a small buzzer
- a small motor
- insulated wire cut into 6" pieces (15 or so)
- wire strippers
- Kid's experiments with electricity book
- water bottle
- magnifying glass
- plant, insect, bird identification cards or books
- pocket knife (for older child)
- Utility tool with no blades (for younger child)
- Sun screen, bug juice
- Trail Mix,
- Small first-aid kit
- hat with brim
- digital camera
- small shovel
- small hoe
- small rake
- flower and vegetable seeds
- watering can
- sunscreen, bug juice
- gardening book for kids
- child-sized wheelbarrow
- screwdrivers (flat and Philips)
- wrenches in various sizes
- tape measure
- nails, screws
- wood glue
- tool belt
- kid's project book
- rubber duckies (of course!)
- different sized cups and containers
- bath paints or crayons
- Bath stickies - letters, animals etc.
- egg beater (fun with bubbles)
- bubble liquid and wand
- kid's bubble bath
- big, colorful towel
Single Serving Recipes for Kids in Pictures
Analogy Worksheets for Kids
Brianna has a bag of 27 chocolate kisses. She has decided to eat 3 kisses each day. Today is Friday. On which day of the week will she eat her last 3 kisses?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
You can see (and click on) my most recent products by using the widget on the top of the left sidebar.
Lately I have been making a lot of task cards, which have been very popular. You can find them all here in the Task Card section of my TpT Store.
If you would like something other than task cards (graphic organizers, worksheets, creative and critical thinking activities,etc., here is a link to my whole store:
Kim has more than 800 pennies, but less than 900 pennies.
All of the digits in the number of pennies Kim has are even.
The hundreds digit is the sum of the ones and the tens digits.
If you subtract the ones digit from the tens digit, the answer is half the hundreds digit.
How many pennies does Kim have?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Making an Advent Calendar consisting of a construction paper Santa head with a paper chain dangling from the beard - one link for each day till Christmas.
I still remember the project, and the sad, sinking feeling that went along with it. There were many such art project throughout my grade school career, along with often religious Christmas Carols, Christmas-themed stories and the like.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not for taking Christmas celebrations out of the schools. I realize that people who do not celebrate Christmas in one form or another are in the minority and that Christmas is fun and can be a jump off point for some great lessons. Never would I want to deny a class of third graders the delight that can only be found in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Case in point, nice Jewish girl that I am, I have still written posts and brain teasers that are Christmas themed. I also realize that unlike the 1970s, today's public school observances are of the secular variety and that we try to give time to Hanukkah (Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel...), and other observances as well. Just the same, please keep in mind:
- Unlike Christmas, Hanukkah is based on a Lunar calendar, so it is at a different time each year. It is early this year - starting on December 8th and ending eight days later. It can be hard for kids to see everyone else celebrating when their holiday is...well, over.
- Originally, Hanukkah was not that big a deal in the Jewish faith. It is a minor holiday. It has been made into a big one in an attempt to rival Christmas. But the truth is, there is no way on earth that Hanukkah can come close. We light candles. We eat potato pancakes, we play a game with a four-sided top. Yes, most Jewish kids get a present every day, but often many of those are small things. It doesn't compare with a mountain of gifts magically appearing under a decorated tree. We have no mythical fat guy traveling the world in a flying sled. We don't bring dead conifers into our homes and decorate them (try reading Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Fir Tree before you get your tree this year). We don't set up giant, lighted, plastic menorahs and Stars of David in our yards. So, please remember that the lone Jewish kid in your class might be feeling just a wee bit left out, and though he might never admit it, possibly wishing that he could have Christmas too. Or she might just be angry at having to do all this stupid Christmas stuff that has nothing to do with her real life.
- Not every Jewish kid wants to share Hanukkah with the class. Some do, and that is great. If you have a kid that wants to bring in the menorah, tell the story of the Maccabbees, and teach everyone how to play dreidle, go for it! But some kids don't want to be pointed out as different. Make sure you know which one is in your class.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
They put frosting on 19 of the cookies.
They put sprinkles on 23 of the cookies.
How many cookies had both frosting and sprinkles?
Carnival of Educators at Free Home Education
Carnival of Homeschooling at the Common Room
Math Teachers at Play #21 at Math Mama
- beef: ___ EAT
- A snack: ___ ___ EAT
- A grain: ___ ___ EAT
- Play a game unfairly: ___ ___ EAT
- Do again: ___ ___ ___ EAT
- Turn on the oven: ___ ___ ___ ___ EAT
- Tidiest: ___ EAT ___ ___ ___
Monday, December 14, 2009
Building toys like blocks, Legos, Tinker Toys, and wooden railroad tracks, and marble mazes, help children develop spatial skills, gross and fine motor skills and an understanding of how things go together in the physical world.
Imagination toys like kitchen sets, doctor kits, doll houses, puppets and dress-up clothes help children to use their creativity, invent scenarios, and to explore what life is like in the adult world.
Games and puzzles help with problems solving, persistence, sportsmanship, turn-taking, and spatial skills. Toys like balls, trikes and bikes, and anything else that gets kids outside develop gross motor skills, and helps to keep their little bodies active.
There are many toys out there that do all of these things...and many that don't. Here are some tips to buying toys that your kids will play with again and again, and avoiding those that sit on the shelf.
Go to a Good Quality Toy Store Not the one with the big giraffe. A smaller boutique-type store cannot afford to stock every toy on the market. The selection may be smaller, but what you will find will be high-quality toys that are likely to have a great deal of staying power. In addition, the employees are much more likely to be able to give you good advice about what to buy than at the giant box-toy store.
However, that said, the big box stores are great for some things such as classic games, Legos, stuffed animals, and art supplies. Just know what you are buying before you go.
Go for Kid-Powered over Electric Sure the electric train that goes around the tracks all by itself looks neat, but after the tracks are set up (probably by you), there isn't much to do but watch it go round and round. If you get the wooden tracks, not only are there many, many different ways to set up the track, but your child is also actively involved in playing with the trains. That is why I like Hotwheels rather than Darta, and kid-powered ride-on vehicles rather than those little electric cars.
Aim for Toys without a Storyline There are many toys out there that are marketed in conjunction with characters your child already knows from TV or books. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I know my own kids got a lot of imaginative play out of their Thomas the Tank Engine trains. But it is also good to have some dolls, dress-up clothes, figures etc. that are not associated with an already established character so that your child can invent the character and the storyline herself.
Steer Clear of LPC LPC = Little Plastic Crap. You know, the stuff you buy in the dollar store, or that doll or action figure that comes with 10,000 little plastic accessories. The pieces are hard for little kids to work with. They get lost. They get broken. They get stepped on in bare feet. They get run over by the vacuum. Just say no to LPC.
Gauge the Age It doesn't matter how cool the toy is, if your kid has outgrown it, he won't play with it. Same is true for toys that are too advanced. Buying toys that kids will "grow into" does not seem to be a good strategy. Once a child has judged a toy not to be fun, it just sits there and is not likely to be given a second chance, even when your child is old enough to appreciate it. Better to save that toy in your closet and give it next Christmas.
Classics are Good The toy of the moment, whatever it is, is likely to be broken or left on the shelf a month from now. But classics like Legos, wooden train tracks, balls, wood puzzles, marbles, dolls (not the ones that do 50 different things, look like your child, or come with a designer wardrobe), balls, etc are much more likely to be played with until they are worn out.
Second Hand is Okay The truth is, little kids don't know the difference. They don't notice packaging, don't know if it is new or not. You can get significantly more toys buying at thrift stores (or garage sales if you thought ahead) than you can buying new. In addition, the stakes are lower. If you spend five dollars on a toy and your child doesn't play with it, it is a much smaller deal than if you spent fifty dollars. I would not recommend this for older kids, or for gifts you are buying for friends and extended family, but in these hard economic times it might be something to consider.
And finally, remember, it's YOUR Christmas. You don't have to keep up with the Jone's. Little Laura Ingalls got an an orange, a new slate, a handmade pair of mittens, and some sucking candy if it was a good year and she was grateful. Not that we need to go back to pioneer days, but it doesn't hurt to look at how much we buy for our kids and what message that sends to them.
How many silver dollars will Jason have on the eighth night of Hanukkah?
________ Silver Dollars
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
|have to loudly sing the chorus of Jingle Bells every time you walk into a room for a week||or||have to wear a Santa suit to school every day for a week|
|make presents for your family instead of buying them||or||make ornaments for your Christmas tree instead of buying them|
|not celebrate Christmas this year||or||not celebrate your birthday this year|
|have Frosty the Snowman for a friend||or||Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer for a friend|
|have mistletoe hanging in your bedroom doorway||or||have a large decorated Christmas tree in your bedroom doorway|
|have Christmas tree tinsel for hair||or||have fingernails that light up like Christmas lights|
|be at home on Christmas and get lots of presents||or||go to Disneyland for Christmas but not get any presents|
|eat your cereal with eggnog instead of milk||or||eat a candy cane sandwich|
|live in a giant gingerbread house||or||ride on the Polar Express|
|Be allowed to only eat fruitcake for two days||or||Be allowed to only eat candy canes for two days|
|write a five paragraph essay about the meaning of Christmas||or||solve a page of Christmas-themed math problems|
|have a nose that glows red like Rudolf's||or||have pointy ears like an elf|
|visit the north pole||or||visit Bethlehem|
|receive socks for Christmas||or||receive a dictionary for Christmas|
|be given $100 for Christmas to buy things for yourself||or||be given $1000 before Christmas to use to buy gifts for other people|
|get many small presents for Christmas||or||get one big present for Christmas|
|have a job wrapping presents at the mall||or||have a job taking pictures of children sitting on Santa's lap at the mall|
|be one of Santa's elves||or||be one of Santa's reindeer|
|see the Nut Cracker||or||dance in the Nut Cracker|
|spend a day watching Christmas videos||or||spend a day Christmas shopping at the mall|
When she opened the box she found that 8 of them were broken, so she crushed them up and saved the pieces to use as ice cream topping.
She hung one fourth of the ones that were left on her Christmas tree.
Of the ones that were left, she gave two thirds of them away to her friends.
Then she ate one candy cane and gave one to her little brother.
That left Tricia with 6 candy canes.
How many candy canes were in the box when Tricia bought it?
_____________ candy canes.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
One post I am looking forward to digging into is 100 Great Twitter Tips, Tools & Tutorials for Serious Students. I haven't started to tweet yet, but think I'd better, so this post will be a terrific resource.
- Cross off all the vowels except "A."
- Cross off the 6th, 7th, and 8th letters of the alphabet.
- Cross off all the letters that are made with just two straight lines.
Now use the letters that are left to make the name of a fruit.
Make your walls colorful. Most teachers use butcher paper, but I've also seen wrapping paper and fabric. Consider which colors you want to use a lot. Different colors set different moods. Her is an excellent article on room color and mood. It is written for homes, not classrooms, so you need to scroll down to get to the color info.
Devoting a wall to a subject that you are currently studying is a great way to keep your walls interesting and fresh. You can include key points, vocabulary, brainstorms, student work, and anything else that seems to fit. This article has some great pictures of several focus walls.
Need ideas? Kathy Schrock has compiled an extensive list of bulletin board ideas.
Lots of student work not only livens your classroom, but also gives students a sense of ownership. Be sure and enlist those parent helpers to take down and put up student work. One easy way to display student work is to make a bulletin board with a piece of dark blue or black construction paper for each child. Put two large paperclips on the top of each piece of paper. When you use the paperclips to hang student work, the construction paper becomes a frame. Much easier to deal with than staples or thumbtacks.
Let kids write on the wall. IdeaPaint allows you to make any wall into a dry-erase board. Here is an article with some good pictures.
For more ideas, be sure to check out the rest of the Creative Classroom Series.
Check back next week for the next installment: Making a Puzzle Center
Image from Literacybytes.com
Any List Spelling Activities
Fun Comma Practice
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Everyone Plays at Once Even when it is not your turn, you are still actively participating. No one gets bored waiting for their turn.
Tip: Sometimes players (usually one repeatedly) take a long time to play their card, holding up the whole round. One way to solve this, especially if you are playing with a big group, is to make a rule that says that the last card played does not count for that round.
You can Play with Big and Small Groups I have played this game with up to 15 people and it still works. However, if that feels like too much, you can easily just split into two groups since there is no central board needed.
Tip: If you only have three or four people and want to play, there are two good ways to proceed:
- Deal 8 cards instead of 5 and allow each player to contribute two cards to each round (and draw 2 cards for the next round)
- Create an imaginary player. Here is how: put a stack of cards off to the side. For each round, draw a card from that stack (without looking) and mix it in with the other players' cards. If that card is chosen by the judge, then the imaginary player wins the round. For added fun, name your imaginary player, or place a teddy bear or doll in the imaginary player's seat.
Tip: You could allow children to put back cards with references to people or historical events that they do not know, but you could also grab that teachable moment by having the child show the card first so that an adult or older child can explain the reference.It Requires Players to Think Critically and Creatively To play successfully, players must consider how the player acting as the judge for a given round will view the cards they put down. Players often use prior knowledge about a person's likes, dislikes, history etc. when evaluating their choices. Since players can "lobby" for their cards, they need to think about what the best strategy would be for convincing the judge to choose their card (should they choose to lobby at all - sometimes silence is golden).
Tip: Playing Sour Apples (when players put down the opposite card to go with the judge's card) is a fun variation that adds an extra level of thinking.
It is Fun! This is one of those rare games that is equally fun for both children and adults. My daughter, who is nearly 14 and too cool for almost everything, still loves to play this game with her friends!
Tip: Just for fun, at the end of the game have each person say, "I am..." and then list the green cards that they have won.
The Carnival of Homeschooling at The Homeschool Post
Educarnival V2 at Epic Adventures are often Uncomfortable
Carnival of Educators at Notes from a Homeschooling Mom
Minds in Bloom has posts in all three
Paul has 3 times as many five-dollar bills as he does twenty-dollar bills.
He has twice as many one-dollar bills as he does five-dollar bills.
He has two fewer ten-dollar bills than five-bills.
He has $2.68 in change.
How much money does Paul have?
Image from DailyClipArt.net
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Pair kids up. Give them each clipboards, paper, and colored pencils or crayons. Then have the pairs sit back-to-back.
Tell the pairs that they will each be drawing a picture. The goal of the activity is to make their pictures as similar as possible.
Begin by having one of the partners choose a simple thing to draw, such as a tree, house, or person. Both partners draw it without talking about what they are drawing or peeking at each other's papers.
Then have the second partner choose something to add to the picture. Again, both partners draw that thing.
Partners continue in this fashion until the teacher says to stop - ten minutes is probably about right. Then they share their pictures.
Give the partners a few minutes to discuss how their pictures are the same and how they are different. If time allows have a brief class discussion on what they could do differently to make the pictures more alike.
Now try the same activity again. Partners should choose different things to draw than they did in the first round. Most likely, partners will give more specific directions and the pictures will come out more alike than the first time.
Finish up by having student share their pictures with the class and discuss what strategies worked well for giving directions.
Educational Scavenger Hunts
Any Book Nonfiction Activities