10 Terrific Classroom Warm Up Activities

We've all had them...days when we're planned out, on top of things, and ready to take on the world, and days when we're flying into the school parking lot just before the bell rings with dryer sheets hanging out of our clothes, coffee spilling everywhere, and no idea what the heck we're teaching in ten minutes.  Then in saunter the kids and our day begins.  Depending on the day, the weather, the material to cover, and your mood, you can vary your warm up activities to suit the situation.  Here are some ideas for your classroom warm ups.

Before we get started though, I have to let you know that this blog post does include affiliate links.  I am an Amazon Associate, and as such, I earn from qualifying purchases.

10 Terrific Classroom Warm-Up Activities

1. Read Silently

When you need a quiet start to the day, some semblance of peace and serenity, the silence to take some deep breaths, try silent reading.  Give the kids a time limit and have them sit down with a great book to read while you take attendance, handle parent notes, check in homework, and maybe read a few pages yourself.

2. Journal or Creative Writing

For a similar experience but one which generates student work and data, have your students engage in creative writing or journal entries.  Give your students a creative writing prompt, a character education or ethics question, or a journal prompt and then let them write.  You can also allow your students to free write as well.  I like to take photographs out of magazines and laminate them on construction paper.  Then I have my students randomly take a page and create a story around the picture they chose.  These random pictures always presented the best stories.  Journal and creative writing can be collected and evaluated as a data point, but it can also just be assigned as practice.

Write a story about a picture

3. Meditate and Mindfulness

Another quiet opportunity is time for meditation and mindfulness.  I taught my 6th graders how to use the Headspace app to meditate and use mindfulness to calm down and focus. You can read about that experience here, but basically getting my kids to stop, think, and center themselves basically saved my sanity one year.

Perfectly Logical Logic Puzzle Book6th Grade Brain Teasers Book

4.  Logic Puzzles & Brain Teasers

A fourth way to warm up your class for the day or the class period is to give them a brain teaser or logic puzzle.   These fun mental challenges can get the synapses firing and learning juices flowing so kids are hyped and ready to learn.  I like to grab books like these to get my logic puzzles and brain teasers.  

5.  Review Problems

Similar to logic puzzles is the concept of giving your students review problems from previous lessons. I usually give my students 5 problems of varying difficulty and type.  The first one or two might be some rote memorization, then I may ask an opinion question, and then I'm diving deeper into the analyzing and connecting skills.  Or for those in a classroom where all the subjects are taught, I would sometimes ask up to 10 questions - 3 of ELA, 3 of math, 4 of social studies/science.

6.  Icebreaker Questions

Another version of questions are to have icebreaker questions each day.  Depending on the age and level of your students you may have questions like ...

What is your favorite animal at the zoo?

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Would you rather eat a jalapeno pepper or gulp down a Slurpee/Icee?

What was your first concert?

Mental Health Check-In Form

7.  Mental Health Check-In

Another type of question to ask in the morning is a mental health check-in.  I know some people put a question on the board and have students answer with folded sticky notes, but I prefer something more private, like this digital form that you can receive via this sign up.  Students can answer quietly at their desks and no one else can see.  Then teachers can go through them discreetly and flag kids that they need to check in with or send on to the office.  

8.  Clean Out Desks/Lockers/Backpacks

An eighth warm up option is to have students clean out their storage area, whether it be a desk, backpack, or locker.  I like to do this about once a month to help students stay organized.  While you're organizing for the period or taking attendance and going through notes, have them look for lost assignments and forgotten homework, throw away old food, and gather all those runaway pencils.  They'll feel more prepared and so will you.

Hot Seats Honor Students with a Time of their Own

9.  Hot Seat

Once you and your students have gotten to know each other fairly well, try starting a Hot Seat.  I incorporate Hot Seats as part of my positive classroom culture that you can read about here.  With my hot seats, I would place a student on a stool at the front of the room, and give all the rest of the students a colored strip of paper.  Their job was to write a compliment, kind fact, or something else nice about the kid on the hot seat.  I collected these (sometimes laminated them) and hole punched them and put them on a ring, giving them out at the end of the year.  Kids left on a high note and I saved myself money on end of year gifts.

10.  Free Time

Mental Health Check-In Form Pinnable Image
When all else fails, give the kids free time.  I'm not saying this is okay for every day, but occasionally giving the kids 5-10 minutes to talk with a friend, decompress, and just be themselves isn't going to hurt anything, and you'll feel more prepared and ready for your day.

Regardless of what method you choose, keeping kids learning, laughing, and loving school is the important thing, and when you're happier and enjoying yourself, the kids can sense it, and they'll enjoy school more too.   So take care of yourself, find what works for you, and have a great day building the future. 

Let me know your favorite warm up activity in the comments below.  I can't wait to hear what you do.

Brittany Naujok - The Colorado Classroom

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3 Thanksgiving Activities for Middle Schoolers

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year.  I love the focus on togetherness and family, the big meal of turkey and stuffing, the roots into history and our background as a nation.  It's a wonderful time to teach students about our past, the ideas of family and thankfulness, and build community. 

3 Thanksgiving Activities for Middle Schoolers

Whether this is your first year teaching, or you've been around the block a few times, having some Thanksgiving activities planned out, or waiting in your back pocket for when you need a quick idea for an alternative plan, is a great idea.  I hope you'll find some ideas in this post that you maybe hadn't thought of before.

Complete a Thankfulness Activity

Even if you teach middle school students, they still love a great picture book from time to time.  So grab a good one and read your students a story about thankfulness.  There are lots to choose from in this blog post, but I like Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts.*  This story focuses on Jeremy and his ideas of wants versus needs, and how those things change at different times and in different circumstances.  Towards the end, Jeremy realizes what his needs really are and just how thankful he is to have them in his life.  Once the story is over, have a discussion with your kids about their ideas of wants and needs and how they have maybe grown in this area as well.  *This is an affiliated link. I am an Amazon Associate and earn on qualified purchases.

Complete a Thankfulness Activity

Then, using an acrostic poem, a word cloud, a journal, or a craftivity, have your students write down items that they are thankful for in their life.  Depending on the story you choose, it could vary your activity quite a bit.  For Those Shoes, you might want to use pictures of shoes and have students write items on the shoelaces or in different places within the shoe.  If it's a story about Thanksgiving itself, you could use a turkey, and if it's about just the season of thankfulness, you might want to use cut-outs of leaves.  You can download a shoe and some leaves here, but there's no wrong way to be thankful.

Explore on a Virtual Field Trip to the Plimoth Plantations

Another option this season is to take your students on a virtual trip to the 17th Century English village of Plimoth Plantations.  View a nineteen minute long video on the journey to America, and the homes, gardens, store fronts, and fort that make up the re-created village of the Plimoth Plantations.  In this video you'll also hear from several character actors who play the roles of pilgrims in various positions, such as militia members, farmers, home-makers, gardeners, etc.  

Explore on a Virtual Field Trip

You can also view an eighteen minute video on the Wampanoag Homesite which is a re-creation of the Wampanoag Native American Village.  In the video they demonstrate their currency, homes, clothing, and toys.  They discuss the roles of men, women, and children, and the various duties in which they partook.  You get to look at their gardens, the animals they hunted, and the construction of a mishoon, a boat of the Wampanoag people.  It's a wonderful examination of Native Americans and a look at just one tribe of hundreds that first roamed this nation.  Your students are sure to learn a lot from this virtual journey to Massachusetts.

Take a Closer Look at the First Thanksgiving Dinner

Take a Closer Look at the First Thanksgiving Dinner
Along with a virtual trip to Plimoth is a look at the real first Thanksgiving dinner between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people.  Although often depicted as a great gathering of the two races at a long table, this is honestly not the case, and this History Minute First Thanksgiving Dinner Unit explores what the real first dinner was truly like.  Should you want to learn more about History Minutes, I wrote about them previously in this post.  

With an informative two-page reading passage, which includes a 5-part close note reading lesson, the true story of the first harvest is brought to life.  A fun geography page, and a comparative math lesson on traditional versus original meal calories is included.  With guided notes, smart scribbles, and word puzzles to go along with it, this is a unit lesson that your students are sure to love.  With little teacher intervention needed, students can complete a little bit each day over the course of a week, or you can give it to a sub to occupy several hours in one day.  It integrates language arts, social studies, math, and geography, and helps students to see the inter-connectedness of thoughts.  It's a great and innovative way to explore the Thanksgiving holiday.

If at first click this video does not play, please refresh your screen and try again.  Thank you!

Whether you choose just one activity, or tackle all three this Thanksgiving season, honoring this special time in the fall and in America's history is a great way to gather your students and work on building the classroom community while celebrating what we're all thankful for.  

How do you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving in your classroom this fall?  Let me know in the comments.

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Hands On Learning Isn't Lost With Digital Instruction

When the pandemic first hit and schools shut down, I panicked.  I felt like my love of hands on learning was lost and there was no way to get it back.  The need to teach digitally had come, virtually overnight, and with it, interactive, cooperative learning had died.  At least that's what I believed, until I had an awakening.

Hands On Learning Isn't Lost with Digital Instruction

Just because each student was holed up in their house, on their own computer, interacting with a keyboard and a mouse, didn't mean that lessons needed to be bland and independent.  Material could still be interactive, vibrant, engaging, and hands on if it was approached in the right manner.  And that is when Puzzling History began.

Puzzling History Together - A Digital Inquiry Interactive Lesson

History is like a puzzle...the more pieces you can assemble, the clearer the picture becomes.
Born from an idea shared in a Facebook group, and grown through discussions shared with other sellers and my family, I determined to create interactive puzzles that students could assemble on their own or with their classmates in an inquiry process that would help them see the correlation between puzzles and history while allowing them to explore landmarks around the world.

Puzzling History presents students with a set of four progressively more challenging puzzles, where students are given more and more puzzle pieces.  At first there is no way to solve the puzzle.  That is the point!  They have no idea what they are looking at.  Just like with history, when we have too few artifacts or clues, we have trouble making sense of that period or civilization.  We don't know what we're seeing.  Students are then given more pieces and more pieces until they can piece the puzzle together in its entirety, finally revealing what is going on.

Assign students 4 progressively more challenging puzzles.

For students who need more support, get frustrated easily, or may need assistance in the classroom, there are two different versions of puzzles for the teacher to choose from when assigning slides to them.  There is one slide where a picture of the final outcome is visible to help guide the student through the process, and there is another slide where, not only a picture is visible, but several pieces are already locked into place, making this assignment more accessible for all the students in the classroom.

Two puzzles are provided that lend support to students who need it.

Finally, a reflection sheet helps guide students through the process, asking them what they can contruct and visualize, and how this correlates to history.

An optional reflection sheet follows students through the process

Puzzling History - A Digital Inquiry LessonOn top of that, Google Slides™ allows you to assign slides to an individual or to a group.  This allows this inquiry activity to be truly interactive as the teacher can have the puzzle with 35 pieces go just to student A, but the puzzle with 54 pieces go to students A, B, and C, getting them to engage and work together to create the image.  Better yet, give the puzzle with 48 out of 54 pieces to several students and have them complete it.  Then have them discuss and deduce what is happening, what is missing, and what is truly going on.  How fun is that?

These Puzzling History Digital Inquiry Activities will allow students to get hands on and explore history with a new twist on learning.

For what historical location would you like to see a puzzle?  Let me know in the comments.

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5 Engaging Ways to Teach Mesopotamia

History can be hard to relate to for kids, especially when it is so old and they are so young.  They often don't see the connections to their own lives, or the impact it has had on society.  One of my favorite stories to share with students is how the size of the space shuttle is directly related to the size of Caesar's horses.  It's a fascinating one and shows how one decision can impact thousands of decisions throughout history.  So when teaching ancient Mesopotamia, a teacher just needs to make it relatable for their students so they begin to see how it affects and connect to their lives.

5 Engaging Ways to Teach Mesopotamia

Making things hands-on can entice learners to really take in their learning and understand it.  The student often must come to terms with the concept and understand it, in order to to manipulate it and build with it, complete it, or work with it, so more sense is made of the concept and how it fits in to history and the world around them.  This can be done in a variety of fun and entertaining ways that still teach history and get the point across.

Write an Epic Poem like Gilgamesh
1. Write an Epic Poem like Gilgamesh

Explain to your students who the Sumerians were and who Gilgamesh was.  Give them some background information on the epic poem of Gilgamesh and why it is important and has remained an important piece of history.  Then, read a bit of the poem to them, discussing it as you go.  Have your students then try their hand at writing an epic poem by picking a topic and writing.  Make sure to spend some time allowing kids to share their poems with the class.

Learn Cuneiform

2. Try Your Hand at Cuneiform

When I was a teenager, one of my favorite hobbies was to write love letters to my boyfriend in ancient runic.  He taught me the alphabet and only he and I really understood it, so we could write in a secret code that no one else understood.  Writing in cuneiform is much the same way and will give kids a fun, entertaining power, but teach them some history at the same time.  Explaining to students that cuneiform was originally a pictographic language, a lot like our emojis, that turned more complicated and complex over time, might help them to understand how languages evolve and change.  You can then show them the complicated cuneiform and have them try to write with it, or have them try to create their own language with emojis or some other form of signs, symbols, and pictographs. 

Explore the 7 Wonders

3. Explore the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World

The Seven Ancient Wonders of the World are seven incredible feats of architecture, built by the ancient civilizations, that amazed and bewildered society with their grand beauty, size, and structure.  Built by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians, these 7 structures can still elicit beauty and wonderment today.  In Mesopotamia, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were a huge ziggurat of plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers.  These tiers of foliage ascended upwards, creating a large green mountain of mud bricks and plants.  Although the Hanging Gardens exist in the writings of 5 individuals, the exact location and/or some evidence of them has never been found, so some doubt that this wonder ever existed at all.  Having kids look at these seven wonders, examine their size and structure, debate their existence, and draw/construct a model of one for study is a great way for students to get to know the ancient realm and build meaning in their study of history.

Build your own Ziggurat

4. Build Your Own Ziggurat

Ziggurats were fortifications on which a white stone temple stood.  They were built to try to connect the heavens to the earth, so the Mesopotamians would make them as tall as possible.  In the time of ancient Mesopotamia, building methods were crude and so these ziggurats were not nicely sloped pyramids.  They were instead, stacked rectangles or trapezoids, that rose jaggedly up to the sky.  Students could use boxes, folded paper, or even 2-dimensional trapezoids on a screen to create their ziggurats.  I have this activity in my Governments of Mesopotamia lesson, where students can build a ziggurat in any number of ways.

Be the judge, like Hammurabi

5. Be the Judge, Like Hammurabi

Have your students read an article about Hammurabi and his penchant for law-making or simply discuss his nature for creating laws on how people should live their lives.  Then hand out some sample laws to your students and have them read through and share them together.  Take note of how barbaric they tend to be and how the punishments are very one-sided (death).  You might also want to point out how a lot of Hammurabi's laws dealt with property rights.  Prepare a couple case studies for your students where they can examine or simulate a case in Hammurabi's time, arguing for and against a certain outcome and the punishments that come with that decision.  When all is said and done, see if they agree with what they did and the laws they put forth or if they have doubts and reservations about the steps they had to take to follow the law under Hammurabi's rule.

There's lots of ways to bring history alive and make it more memorable for students.  Making it hands-on is just one way to accomplish this.  Do you have other ways to make learning about Mesopotamia memorable?  I'd love to hear them.  Share your ideas in the comments.

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3 Ways to Practice Geography & Map Skills

I can look at a map for a long time and be entranced by it.  How are the roads connected? What is the topography like?  Noticing how the river, railroad, and highway all run together until the grade becomes too hard for the train and it follows a new path.  Watching the place names change as the settlers who named them changed across a region.  Maps are marvelous, but I've come to know that my fascination with maps makes me a "nerd."  Most people see a map and want to sigh or hide.

3 Ways to Practice Geography and Map Skills

Map skills and geography don't need to be a chore or something we dread.  By using songs, puzzles, rhymes, interesting facts, and more we can bring out the fun in geography and see the world as an enchanting ball of mystery.  I have three ways, out of many, that may help you with this task.

Using Puzzles to Practice

Using Puzzles to Practice Geography Skills

Puzzles have been shown to improve memory and increase IQ.  They help with spatial reasoning and allow for teamwork and the exchange of ideas.  With large or small puzzles, students can discuss, debate, reason, and collaborate on the best placement of pieces.  Whether you have a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the United States or these puzzles on the flags, capitals, and countries of each continent, student's brains will get a workout throughout the process of completing them.

Map Skills Practice with Countries and Capitals

Another way we can practice our map skills and become more familiar with geography is to work with maps and learn our countries, capitals, major bodies of water, and other pieces of terrain.  Below is some map practice work in Google Slides™, Google Forms™, and in BOOM Learning with Boom Learning Cards.  You'll see how each venue offers the practice on North America in a slightly different form, even though all the questions are the same.

Slides and Forms do not offer immediate feedback, although Forms does self-grade to free up the teacher for more time spent elsewhere.  Boom Cards offers both immediate feedback and self-grading, and both Forms and Boom offer reports.  With more and more digital offerings being created, perhaps you can find the region you've been wanting your students to learn.

Interesting Facts & Map Work Offer Geography Enrichment Activities

Interesting Facts and Geography Enrichment Activities
Lastly, have you heard of GeoJunior Or GeoGenius yet?  These fun geography enrichment activities allow your students to explore a country in a new and fascinating way.  With GeoJunior, students are given a "Guess the Country" clue sheet to figure out the country of study.  Then comes a general location sheet to help identify where the country is located in the world.  Next, political and physical maps are presented with items to color and label.  "Fun Facts" follow with 5 interesting and weird facts about the country to help cement it into memory.  Lastly, everything is assembled together into a bookmark that students color where clues, facts, and more are captured to help them recall all they have learned.  To top that off, once a quarter, a GeoGenius with even more great activities on a continent is released.  This continues for an entire school year so you have something new to teach every other week all year long.  Best of all, it is free, just for signing up for the GeoJunior Geography Club.

No, geography doesn't need to be a dreaded subject any longer.  Perhaps one of these methods will help you and your students enjoy geography more.  I know I'll be there with my map in hand, ready to check out what interesting facts I can learn.  Do you love geography?  Let me know in the comments.

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10 End of Year Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom

The end of the year is rapidly approaching and it's usually the best time of year. The class is gelling, the memories are abundant, and the warm weather has finally hit which allows you to get outside and enjoy some different activities. This year will be a little different with everyone completing online digital learning and away from the students they love so dearly, but that doesn't mean that the memories have to end.

10 End of Year Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom

Thematic Days

Set up a day to culminate your curriculum and have a thematic day.  My daughter's favorite day in school was Renaissance Day.  They dressed up in costume, if possible, wrote with a quill, drew pictures while laying on the floor under their desk (tape the paper to the underside of the desk), and more.  If you can't come up with 4-6 activities for a theme day, then try a fun theme week.  Make Monday favorite outfit day, and Tuesday funny socks day.  Have a sports day, superhero day, and others.  Just make sure to think about the inclusion of all kids when you do this.  For instance, twin day is hard for those kids who are socially introverted and those who may struggle making friends for any number of reasons.

Countdown the Days Together

Digital Memory Wall helps students sum up the year.
When about ten days are left in the year, create a paper chain or balloon count down.  Each day have a random act of kindness, a shared memory, or a task for your students to complete, such as doing a mathematical coloring page, or filling out a survey on their year.  Build the drama and suspense each day and make it as fun as it can be without losing all control.

Memory Wall

Place a large piece of butcher paper up on your wall and give your students a few days to start noting down all their great memories from the year.  I've found that it usually takes a few days for the really great memories to start flooding back to them, so give your paper, or this free Digital Memory Wall, some time to brew.  Make sure you leave time at the end of the year to review everything that's been written, photographed, and shared, so you can have a few more laughs together as a class.

Memory Book

Memory books are another great way to capture your student's thoughts, ideas, and reflections from the year.  Each student can have their own unique memory book, or you can do one that is more general to the class as a whole with unique highlights throughout.  I used to make beefy memory books for my students and then my digital offering "way back when" was a DVD of all our photographs set to music.  It sure took a lot of time, but it was a labor of love and boy, did I love those books and DVDs.  Nowadays you can make a digital memory book much more quickly and assemble it so much easier.  A couple of my friends have some great options if you're looking to go with paper or digital with this task this year.  Joyce & Steve, over at 1st Grade Pandamania have a fabulous paper memory book for the younger crowd.  Parents love to see kids trace their hands, write their name, and more.  While The Craft of Teaching has an awesome digital version for this year.  Each grade (3rd-6th) has a book and students make it really unique with their memories from the year.
End of Year Memory Book K-2 Product                                                              Upper Elementary Memory Book Product

Field Day

Field Day is another end of year event that I just love.  We get to head outside for the day.  The kids are all relaxed and ready to have fun, and the P.E. teacher always has such a great day of activities planned.  I am all about sports and a total tomboy, so this day was always a blast for me, but one of the highlights of the day is eating a picnic style lunch together as a class and just talking about school, life, memories, etc.  We often get quite a few laughs together and it really proves to be a great bonding time.  Even though we're online learning this year, having a lunch with your kids, while online, is not out of the question.  You could even play some games online, like ArcademicSkillBuilders, Cool Math, Minecraft, or many others.  Enjoy the time you get with them before the year is over.

Class Shirts

Another thing I absolutely loved about field day was our class shirts and hats.  I would create a design, have all the kids sign it, and then take it to a local T-Shirt shop for production.  The first couple years I actually paid for the shirts and hats myself, as an end of year gift, but not too much later I started asking for the parents to chip in.  I even had a spot where parents could donate money to help those who were less affluent.  No one ever went without our class shirts.  Then later, seeing everyone all in a group, working together for a common goal, and sporting our class duds was so neat.  The pictures were pretty fabulous too.

Advice for Next Year's Crop

As the days dwindled, a great writing activity is to have your students write to an up and coming student.  Have them explain what your grade level is like.  Do classes rotate or are they contained?  What teachers do they see?  What lessons (life or otherwise) have been the most important?  What skills are needed to be a great student?  All these questions and so many more, can be answered in a letter to the new students.  Then save those papers and have one on each desk on the first day of the new year to help students feel welcomed, reassured, and ready to tackle the school year.

Clean Up & Pack Up Together

This necessary task doesn't have to be done by you alone.  Get your students to help by packing up their totes, cubbies, or lockers.  Have them clean out their notebooks, desks, and backpacks, and then wash those desks down with some shaving cream fun*.  I usually buy one can for every 8-10 students.  Give them a small pile on their desk and have them draw, answer questions, or just play for 10-20 minutes.  Then walk around with a spray bottle, add a little water to each desk and have them scrub it clean with paper towels or cloths.  You'll have a clean classroom and the kids will have another great
Assortment of Awards for Upper Elementary Students
memory.  *This is an affilliate link.  I am an Amazon Associate and earn on qualified purchases.

Hold an Awards Ceremony or Two

Each year as the days drew to an end, another event I would make sure to undertake and capture, was classroom awards.  I gave out awards for academics and effort, attendance and reading, and best of all character.  I'd usually do all my awards at once, but sometimes we'd have multiple award days, and you know what, there's nothing wrong with that.  Sometimes kids aren't celebrated and applauded enough.  My character awards have always been a true passion of mine.  I agonize for days over who should get which award and how to make sure everyone is included in the best way possible.  I then make certificates for my students, each with a unique quote about the character trait included.  Then usually on the last day of school I hand out my awards with a story and reason behind each and every one.  I love to share their deeds and accomplishments with them through my eyes, and have gotten teary-eyed, if not weepy, more than once.  The students are so appreciative and supportive of one another, that character awards are something I look forward to all year long.

Class Gifts

Definitely not a requirement, so don't feel obligated, but I always enjoyed giving my kids a gift at the end of the year.  Some years and some schools were more extravagant than others, but you really only need to do something small that reminds your kids that you care about them and will miss them when they move on.  I've given shirts and hats, as mentioned before, cups, water bottles, bubbles, small stuffed animals, and a mish-mash of little trinkets, but my daughter's favorite gift of all time was in 2nd grade when her teacher made her class bookmarks.  She had the whole class sign the back and then laminated them before handing them out.  My daughter used that bookmark for years to come.  1st Grade Pandamania has some adorable free bookmarks that can be used for many different grade levels, and Apple-y Ever After has some great pirate bookmarks that would make a cute end of year gift too.
Bookmarks for the K-3 Crowd
Pirate Bookmarks

However you decide to celebrate the end of the year and the special days you've shared with your students, it will all be good.  Kids just like to know that they mattered to you and that you will remember them.  And if they can remember you in the process with a token, certificate, or even just the memories they hold in their heart, they will take that with them forever.

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Distance Learning and You

We are entering an unprecedented time in our recent history.  Even in times of war, schools were still open and games were still played, but now we face a new challenge and one we must all face together.  We must do what is best for humanity by shuttering down our social systems and avoiding one another until this virus passes through and hopefully affects as few people as possible.

Ideas and resources to help with distance learning.

With this social distancing comes the need to perform learning from a distance, which is a challenge.  Will students have devices and Internet capabilities?  What about families with 4, 5, 6, kids and only one device?  What about families who can barely afford to put food on the table or can hardly function as a family, how can we expect them to undergo this latest challenge?  There are so many questions and so few answers right now, but the best we can do is to provide as many resources as possible.  Along with that, grace and understanding, flexibility and patience must be in our wheelhouses.  This is not going to pass without questions, uncertainty, trial and error, and many hiccups.  Be prepared to be unprepared and you'll feel less cajoled when the issues arise.

Teaching resources that are free during the pandemic.

I have compiled a short list of resources I have discovered over the past few days that are making your job as an educator hopefully a little easier during this tumultuous time.  Please use any or all of these that you can, and be sure to show them some appreciation when all this is over for helping you out.

  • Kahoot - Offering premium services for the rest of the year for free.
  • IXL - Is providing free access for 90 days.
  • Edmodo - Offering access for communication and learning during this time.
  • Discovery Education - Offering free access through the end of the year to affected schools.
  • Boom Learning - Offering free Ultimate subscriptions good through June 30.
  • Active History - Offering one month free trials upon request.
  • Kids Discover - Kids Discover Online is being offered to schools through the end of June.
  • Shurley English - Offering their program for K-8 for free, no code required.
  • Turn It In - Has a 60-day free trial.

A list of teaching resources that are free and always have been.

In addition, these great resources have always been free and continue to be so during this stressful time.
  • Big Blue Button - Webcams, whiteboards, and posted curriculum made for online teaching.
  • Zearn - A K-5 curriculum.
  • Khan Academy - Online lessons in a variety of subjects.
  • Wonderopolis - Short videos and readings that answer questions for students.
  • Xtra Math - Math fact practice.
  • Typing Club - Typing practice.
  • ReadWorks - Reading passages and lesson plans for students from K-12.
  • Math Celebrity - Math tutoring.
  • Quizlet - Practice and master content with quizzes.
  • HippoCampus - Free videos in 13 different subject areas.
  • Phet - Science and math labs.
  • PBS Learning - PreK-12 digital learning materials.
  • Fiveable - Free resources for AP students which includes trivia, study guides, and reviews.
  • No Red Ink - An online curriculum that builds better writers.
  • Go Noodle - Movement and mindfulness videos.
  • Dreamscape - Reading game for grades 2-8 that combines strategy, engagement, reading passages, and a game.
  • Class Tag - Communicate with parents and send home lessons and assignments.
  • Classroom Cereal - Grammar practice.
  • Collisions Chemistry - Digital games rooted in the rules of chemistry.
  • Arcademics - Arcade like games for math, language arts, and typing practice.
  • Museum Tours - Tour 12 museums for free with virtual tours.
  • Kids National Geographic - Geography, history, and science information.

A list of self-care ideas to help when you are practicing social distancing.

While you're busy taking care of your students, don't forget to take care of yourself as well.  It can be daunting to feel trapped inside or to have little social contact with others, so make sure to take some time for yourself and do what you need to do to protect yourself and your health and emotions.  Here are some suggestions.
  • Go for a walk - Even though we're supposed to be practicing social distancing, it is okay to get outside and get some fresh air.
  • Take a bath or shower - Freshen up and get clean with a soaking bath or a rejuvenating shower.
  • Read a book - Too often we don't have time to get lost in a novel.  Pick a book off your shelf and dive in to a great story.
  • Watch a Ted Talk - Whether to learn something or just hear some words of inspiration, a Ted Talk can give you a break and put you in just the right mood.
  • Meditate - Get a subscription to Calm or Headspace and partake in some meditation.
  • Pin It - Explore Pinterest and reconnect with your hobbies. As a teacher you rarely have time for you and your hobbies.  You may have even forgot what hobbies are.  Now is the time to reconnect with what you like to do.
  • Complete a Gratitude Journal - During hard times it can be difficult to remember to be grateful.  Completing a gratitude journal will help you to remember all the good there truly is to be thankful for.  I have this one and love it. This is an affiliate link.  I am an Amazon Associate and earn from qualified purchases.

I hope these lists provide you with some resources that you able to use to make your days easier as we all walk this new unknown together.  

The Colorado Classroom Signature - Brittany

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