Daily Brain Teaser #100

There are 100 dogs at the dog show.
Two fifths of the dogs are Black Labs.
One fourth of the dogs are Poodles.
One fifth of the number of Poodles are Beagles.
Half the number of Black Labs are Golden Retrievers.
The rest of the dogs are Terriers.

How many of each dog are there?

Black Labs ____
Poodles _____
Beagles ______
Golden Retrievers  ______
Terriers _____

Daily Brain Teaser #99

Zack, Paula, Sid, and Lynette each play a different sport. The sports are soccer, tennis, basketball, and golf. Use the clues to find out which sport each person plays.

Zack and Lynette each play their sports on a court.
Sid and Lynette both play their sport. on teams.
Paula's sport uses the smallest ball.


Trivia for the grown ups: Who are Zack, Paula, Sid, and Lynette?

6 Creative Ways to Use Questions

Whether they are about a specific area of study or just for fun, questions are a terrific way to get kids thinking critically and creatively. You probably already use questioning as part of your teaching - the Socratic Method. You probably also use them to generate discussions and as journal prompts. Here are some other things you can do with a good question.

At the Start of the Year
It can be very useful to have students fill out questions about how they feel about school, favorite subjects, areas of strength and weakness etc. at the start of the year. Another thing that is fun to do is to have students write the answer to some opinion questions - favorites for example, at the start of the year and then have them do it again at the end of the year. Kids enjoy seeing where they have changed.

Class Poll
Use a Would You Rather Question (you can get 20 of them here for free) or any other question with 2 or 5 or so choices. Students can vote with their bodies, by moving to a part of the room, with hands, or by moving name tags. From there you can have student discuss their position and see if anyone changes their minds. Or you can analyze the data.

Individual Polls
A good poll question has 3-5 answers. You can make it relevant to a holiday (which of these 5 choices is your favorite Halloween treat?) or a topic of study (which of these 4 dinosaurs is your favorite?). For homework, students can collect data from 20 or more people over a few days or a week (categories with tally marks work well). You then have some wonderful data to work with. Students can use graph paper to make a bar chart or Excel to make any number of different charts. Students can then answer questions about their charts and compare them to their classmates' charts. You could also combine all the data to make one large class chart.

Generating Questions Before a Unit
Brainstorming a list of question about an area of study before you begin the unit is a great way to get kids interested in the topic. It also tells you what they are wondering about. You can use the list to partially guide the unit, or send individual students or small groups on quests to find the answers to specific questions. At the end of the unit, go back to your questions and see how many you have found answers for.

Generating Questions with Literature
Asking questions is a wonderful way to explore literature. Getting students to form their own questions not only reinforces comprehension, but also gets them thinking more deeply about the characters, setting, plot, and theme as well as the author's intent and their own feelings about the book. Here are some prompts for helping students generate questions:
  • Have students make a T-Chart: Fact Questions on one side, Opinion Questions on the other. For each side they must write a given number of questions.
  • Have students write a question starting with each of these words: Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why.
  • Have students write questions about the book starting with What if....
  • Have students write questions focused on specific story elements: setting, character, plot, theme.
  • Have students write questions that they know will be used in discussion.
  • Have students try writing True/False and Multiple Choice questions.
  • Have students write questions they would like to ask the author.
You can get 64 reading response question cards that will really get your students thinking right here.

Role Playing
Having students pretend to be a character from a book they are reading or a famous person and then answering questions interview style, can be a great way for them to really think about that person or character's feelings and opinions.

If you would like over 760 awesome questions to use with your students, all in card format, check out this Writing Prompts Super Bundle:

Daily Brain Teaser #98

Maria's father made 80 cookies.
Maria put them all in one long line across the counter. In the line of cookies, every third cookie has chocolate chips. Every fourth cookie has raisins. Every eigth cookie has nuts.
Maria's father would like to eat cookies with all three: chocolate chips, raisins and nuts. How many cookies have all three?

____ cookies

Bonus: Which cookies, by number, will Maria's dad eat? ____________________

Daily Brain Teaser #97

A small box of  pencils contains 8 pencils.

A large box of pencils contains 12 pencils.

Carla needs 48 pencils.

She buys some of each sized box.

How many of each box did she buy?

_____ small boxes
_____ large boxes


Daily Brain Teaser #96

Jason bought a new skateboard and a new helmet. The skateboard cost 3 times as much as the helmet. Jason spent $96 altogether.

How much did he pay for each thing?

Skateboard: ___________

7 Ways to Help Children to Get Along

One year I had a particularly challenging group of third graders in terms of classroom culture. They just did not get along. They frequently treated each other unkindly. There were, of course a few ring leaders, but it seemed like many of the other kids just kind of went along. 
Here are some of the things my teaching partner and I did to try to make the situation better:
The Three Gates
We put a small copy of the picture above on every student's desk. We encouraged students to think about their words before they spoke -especially when talking about another person. The statement should pass all three gates before it is spoken.

Read Aloud
We read There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom by Louis Sachar outloud to the class. If you are not familiar with this book, give it a read. Sachar does an amazing job of telling the story of how a rejected child finds acceptance. Every time I read it I tear up when Bradly finally gets his first gold star.

Peer Recognition
We started the "I Saw You do Something Good!" program which was basically small forms that students could fill out when they witnessed a classmate doing something nice. Teachers could also fill out the forms. All the forms went into a jar and a few were picked each week for small prizes. Each student also got to keep all their forms from other students.

Role Playing
We role played positive solutions to common classroom problems.

Team Building Games
In PE we played cooperative team building games to help students learn to work together. This had varying success. Sometimes it worked remarkably well. Other times, students argued about strategy or unfairness. We soon learned which games to avoid. At the same time, we steered clear of competitive game both in PE and in the classroom.

Journal Writing
We used several journal prompts about friendship. For example:
  • What does it mean to be a good friend?
  • Do you think you are a good friend? Why or why not?
  • You and your friend both want to do something different on Saturday afternoon. How can you solve the problem?
  • What are three things you can do to make new friends?
Holiday Gifts
I actually love a good art project, but for that year, we made coupon books. Each student came up with their own coupons for nice things they could do for their parents.
Most of these ideas could be integrated into our normal school day and curriculum, so we really didn't have to spend much extra time "teaching friendship." For the most part, it worked. Our classroom did become a kinder place. There was one girl who, as far as I can tell, was immune to all of it. Although she continued to be a challenge, she did become less popular with her peers, which lessened her influence.

Daily Brain Teaser #95

Use the clues to change one letter in each word to make a new word. If you do it correctly, the first word will the same as the last word.


________ not on time
________ despise
________ head coverings
________ punches
________ small pieces
________ do with your teeth
________ ride this
________ in the oven
________ body of water

Teaching Tools: Handy-dandy Name Sticks

Welcome to the second post in the Teaching Tools You Gotta Have series. The point of this series is to highlight simple, yet highly useful teaching tools.
Ever get tired of that sea of raised hands? This easy-to-make tool makes it a cinch to choose kids randomly. Randomness adds a little fun to your day. It also keeps kids interested and thinking.

Get a package of Popsicle sticks, craft sticks, or tongue depressors. Write the names of the students in your class on the sticks - one per stick. Put them in a cup. You have just created a very handy tool.

Now that you have this handy-dandy tool, here are some ways to use it.

For Calling on Students
Use the sticks instead of calling on raised hands. Because a students never know who will be called on, they all need to pay close attention to the lesson.

For Choosing
Use the sticks to choose kids for special jobs - such as passing out papers or when you need a volunteer for a demonstration.

For Grouping
You can use the sticks to randomly pair or group students simply by pulling out the number of sticks that you need and calling it a group. Kids know the groups are random and are less likely to complain. Also, through the course of the year, this gives each student the opportunity to work with every other student in the class.

For Turns
Make an extra set and use it for any ongoing thing that you cycle through the class for. For example, if you have 3 classroom playground balls and three different children get to use them each recess, you can simply pull 3 names and then not put them back into the cup until the entire class has had their turns, then start again with a full cup of sticks. Also good for oral presentations.

For Subs and Guests
Name sticks are great for subs or classroom guests. When faced with a group of students you don't know, it is nice just to pull a stick when you need a helper or volunteer.

Tip: Sometimes, you may want something to appear random, that really isn't. Consider a subtle mark on the top of the sticks of students that are particularly reliable. That way if you really need to be sure you get a responsible student, you know that you will. Some teachers also code their sticks for boys and girls.

You might want to check out last week's post about Ways to Use Individual Whiteboards with your students. Be sure to come back next week when I will discuss another simple, but useful tool!

Daily Brain Teaser #94

Lucy and Ricky walk to school together every day. They also walk home together.
Each day, they meet at the corner of Oak street and Maple Avenue. This is also where they part on the way home from school.
Lucy lives 2 blocks from the corner.
Ricky lives 3 blocks from the corner.
Their school is 6 blocks from the corner.

How many blocks will each child walk in 1 week of school days?


Top Ten at TpT

A tiny bit of shameless self-promotion:

This is the last week's Top Ten Items sold on teacherspayteachers.com The ones boxed in yellow are teacher materials that I developed!

If you want to have a peek, check out the right sidebar at teacherspayteachers.com or just click any of the dark blue links on the sidebar right here at Minds in Bloom.

Daily Brain Teaser #93

Daily Brain Teaser #92

Lily goes swimming every Tuesday and Saturday.
Marshall goes swimming every third day.
Today is Tuesday, March 2nd and both kids have gone swimming.

On what date will they both go swimming again?


Carnival of Educators

Welcome to March 2, 2010 edition of the Carnival of Educators here at Minds in Bloom. Please have a look around after you take a peek at this week's Carnival Posts, and if you like what you see, please consider subscribing or becoming a follower.

Many of this week's posts were a bit tangential to the subject of education, but still interesting, so I included them. I ordered this carnival by how relevant I felt the posts were as well as loosely by subject matter. 

Inspired by the Olympic Games
Andrea Hermitt presents If we treated math students like olympians posted at Examiner, saying, "a call for individual math instruction"

okp notes that students often focus more on grades than on learning and suggest an Olympic Games inspired solution at  Grade Calculation, Student Focus, and Winter Sports posted at Assistive Principles . . .

Ideas to Try
Quirky Momma has a great post about  Learning to Read with a Cootie Catcher  at quirkymomma.com, saying, "We made a learn-to-read cootie catcher for my daughter! She loves manipulating it and making sentences/mini-stories from the words she finds." The post has some great photos that show you exactly what to do!

Ben Dinsmore presents Tips on Teaching Kids About Money posted at Trees Full of Money, saying, "When it comes to teaching children and young adults about managing money, most schools in the United States get a failing grade. Here are some tips to ensure your child gets the financial education he or she deserves!"

Good to Know
Tom DeRosa has some excellent points to consider if you are wondering whether to stay in your current position or try something new next year in his video, Where Should You Teach Next Year
at I Want to Teach Forever

Nancy Flanagan  reviews an important book about the shootings that took place over ten years ago in  We Are All Columbine posted at Teacher in a Strange Land, saying, "What can still be learned in thinking about the school shootings at Columbine?"

Herbert Anderson presents 50 Incredibly Weird Facts About the Human Body posted at BSN Program, saying, "Our bodies truly are amazing. You might be surprised at what your body is capable of after reading these 50 weird facts about the human body."

Deana presents The Frugal Homeschooling Mom: A+ Homeschool Giveaways posted at The Frugal Homeschooling Mom, saying, "I’ve begun a collection of homeschool giveaways on my site – it’s a linky list and I invite all of you to participate"

Denise has a really interesting article about Spam Comments posted at Blogging 2 Learn, saying, "This week, my homeschool co-op blogging class will be talking about comments and comment spam. Spammers are tricky, and inexperienced bloggers can be easy to fool." A must read for bloggers!

Amanda Rosen presents 7 Easy Ways to Secure Your Own Personal Computer posted at Best forensic science schools.

Lisa Taylor presents an interesting post about  the 10 Youngest College Graduates in U.S. History (and Where They Are Today) posted at Online Degree.

In the News
hall monitor presents Students Spied on by School Issued Laptop Webcams posted at DetentionSlip.org, saying, "The now famous privacy issue is continuing to heat up!"

Liam Goldrick presents Central Falls Redux posted at The Education Optimists.

For the College-Bound
Basil presents The Top 10 Things that a High School Student Needs to Know Before College posted at Teen College Education, saying, "A Blog written by a teen for other teens and parents alike"

Tom Tessin presents Attending College Fairs Online posted at FCC Student Blog, saying, "College fairs aren't just in person anymore, find out how you can take advantage of one online."

For the College Crowd and Other Adult Learners
Mike presents New Year Resolutions for the Student posted at AidScholar.

Katie Freeman presents 25 Helpful Government Resources to Find Legit Online College Programs posted at Online University Data, saying, "If you want a reputable online education, then you need reputable sources to learn more about the programs you choose. The following list contains twenty-five helpful government resources to find legitimate online college programs."

Mary Jones presents 50 Fascinating Lectures for Humanitarians posted at Online University Lowdown.

And in case you need more links, The Carnival of Homeschooling is up and running at Homeschool Buzz.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
carnival of educators
using our
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8 Fun things to do with Idioms

Teaching Idioms? I know I'm preaching to the choir when I say that idioms are more fun than a barrel of monkeys. There is a boatload of idioms at GoEnglish.com. Beyond going over the literal meaning of such phrases as "It's raining cats and dogs!" there are many other out-of-this-world things to try. They are the cat's pajamas, so give them a whirl!

Draw them
The picture on the right shows how much fun this can be. Here are some others that might be fun to draw:
  • Give me a hand
  • Hit the books
  • Keep an eye on you
  • You're pulling my leg
  • Cat's got your tongue
  • Zip your lip
  • Cold turkey
  • Wear your heart on your sleeve
  • In the doghouse
  • When pigs fly
  • Put your foot in your mouth
  • On pins and needles
  • I'll be there with bells on
  • Bite off more than you can chew
  • Toss your cookies
Act them out
This is probably easiest to do in small groups. Assign each group an idiom and have them act it out for the rest of the class to guess. Some that will probably work well include:
  • All in the same boat
  • Barking up the wrong tree
  • Birds of a feather flock together
  • Crying over spilt milk
  • Don't count your chickens before they're hatched
  • It takes two to tango
  • Let the cat out of the bag
  • Out of the frying pan and into the fire
  • Out on a limb
  • Preaching to the choir
  • Rub salt in your wound
  • The straw that broke the camel's back
Use them as writing prompts
A phrase such as, "a fool and his money are soon parted" could inspire a great story. "Every cloud has a silver lining" could inspire an essay on finding something good in an otherwise bad situation.  "In the heat of the moment" could be the theme behind a story about doing something foolish - or perhaps brave.

Use them as discussion starters
"You can't judge a book by it's color" could be the start of a discussion about false first impressions, unfairly judging, or racism. "Rome wasn't built in a day" could start a discussion about persistence. You could have all kinds of interesting discussions around, "The ends justify the means."

Write an idiom story
Challenge your students to write a story using as many idioms as they can. They will probably want to use a lot of dialogue, so this is a great way to practice using quotations properly. It would probably help to have a large list of common idioms available.

Create an idiom challenge
Over a period of days, see how many idioms your class can come up with related to a specific subject.  Students could write them on a large piece of butcher paper on the wall as they come up with them throughout the week. Some ideas are:
  • animal idioms
  • food idioms
  • weather idioms
  • location idioms
  • idioms that mention parts of the body
Go a Little Deeper
Where exactly did the idiom, "to cry wolf" come from? Do your students know the story of The Boy who Cried Wolf? How about "Curiosity killed the cat." Why a cat instead of some other animal? "Raising Cain" must have biblical roots. An idiom could be the start of a great research project!

Create your own
What else, besides cats and dogs could it be raining? Fish and Chips? Lizards and Snakes? Water balloons and Superballs? That's the way the...cookie crumbles, ball bounces, soda bubbles? leaves fall? carrot crunches? It'll cost you...an arm and a leg, a finger and 4 toes? an ear and a bad haircut?

More Idiom Resources
Each of these Idiom Task Cards presents a different idiom and three choices for what that idiom means. Perfect for test prep, ESL students, and Common Core Standards L.4.5 and L.5.5. Available individually or as part of a three set bundle.

Image provided by Fourth Grade Flipper

These task cards require students to demonstrate their understanding of different types of figurative language (including idioms) by writing their own. Great for literacy centers and fast finishers. 

These printables provide definitions and examples of various types of figurative language along with opportunities for practice. They are also aligned with Common Core for grades 3-6.

Picture Credit: SeamlessIntegration

Daily Brain Teaser #91

Mr. Jenkin's class sold popcorn at the school carnival.

A small bag of popcorn costs $1.50
A large bag of popcorn costs $2.50

At the end of the day, Mr. Jenkin's class had sold 26 bags of popcorn and made $45.75.

How many of each size popcorn did they sell?

Small ________

Picture Credit: Webweaver's Free ClipArt

Teaching Resources

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