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Helping Children Deal With Anger

Anger can be a real issue for children with special needs.  Whether your child is on the autism spectrum, has a reading disability, or struggles to pay attention because of ADD, frustration and anger can cause them to want to quit on their schoolwork.  It is important to teach your child to deal with their anger in healthy ways.  They may always feel angry about circumstances and events in their life, but they can learn to manage the anger instead of acting on it.

Take a Break

One of the best ways to keep anger under control is to take a break from what is causing the anger.  You could teach your child to walk away from a situation and go to a quiet place (their room, the kitchen table, or a certain spot in their classroom).  Teach them to stay in this spot until they feel calmer.  Remember though that this is something you want them to learn to do on their own.  It is not a punishment.  You can encourage your child to walk away, but don’t try to force them to stay in the chosen spot.  If a special needs child feels like he is being punished, the anger will probably get worse, not better.  You can also ask your child’s teacher if your child can take a break from a subject that is frustrating them and go back to it later in the day.

Use Their Words

One problem that can cause anger is the inability for some children to put their thoughts and feelings into words.  Imagine how frustrated you would be if you were trying to talk, but no one could understand you or you didn’t know how to tell someone what you were thinking or feeling.  During times when your child is not angry, have them practice using their words to talk about their feelings.  Role play possible situations that would upset them and have them tell you in words how they would feel or what they would tell their teacher about the situation.  It could also help to give them a special feelings journal.  Tell them that they can write in the journal anytime they want or about anything they want.  Encourage them to write down things that bother them throughout the day.  In addition to just writing in the journal, you could look at the journal with your child every night and talk with him about what bothered him during the day.

Think From the Perspective of Others

Many special needs students have a hard time putting themselves in the place of others.  Because they tend to focus only on themselves, it can be difficult for them to understand things like why a child refused to give up a favorite toy or why they didn’t get to use the blue marker first.  When you talk with your child about things that have made them angry, try to get them to see what made the other child act the way they did.  (You may not be able to do this until your child has calmed down quite a bit.)  Ask your child what he would have done if he was the other child.

Anger is a real problem for some children, but with your help your child can learn to control his anger.  What other strategies do you use when teaching your children to manage their anger?

Photo by: greg westfall

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Lesson Ideas for Cinco de Mayo & Mother’s Day

This week we are celebrating Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day.   These two special occasions provide great hands- on-learning connections in the classroom with crafts and culture.

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Cinco de Mayo Lesson Ideas

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration held in Mexico honoring their victory over the French army in 1862.  In Mexico, this is a relatively small holiday that is only celebrated in Pueblo.  In the United States however, this special occasion has grown to celebrate Mexican heritage, food, and customs.  Here are some lesson ideas to celebrate Cino de Mayo in your classroom.

  1. Mr. Donn’s website provides not just lessons about Cinco de Mayo, but full units of lessons, activities, and resources on the topic of Mexico.   This site also has a presentation to share with students, a reader’s theater lesson, and a link to games that you can play in your classroom for Cinco de Mayo.
  2. The Teacher’s Corner has lesson plans including holding a classroom fiesta, learning Cinco de Mayo vocabulary and history, and making arts and crafts related to the holiday including paper flowers and piñatas.
  3. Scholastic has resources on their website to teach students the history and cultural significance of the holiday.  These activities are great because they are already standards based and provide great classroom instruction for an introduction on the topic.  The activities are very visually oriented and would be great to complete as a class using an Interactive board.

Mother’s Day Lesson Ideas

Mother’s Day, which is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May in the United States, is a day to honor motherhood and ones’ mother.  In the United States, it is typical to celebrate by having a special day for your mother.  Making breakfast, buying flowers, or making a card are traditional ways to honor mothers.

Mother’s Day is actually celebrated all around the world during different times of the year.  Each country has their own customs of the significance and customs of Mother’s Day.  This would make a great lesson that combines the occasion, geography, and culture connection.  Wikipedia has a list of the countries who celebrate Mother’s Day including the date they celebrate and their customs.  Students could be paired off to learn about one of the countries and how they celebrate and then present to the class.

For younger students, crafting and Mother’s Day go hand in hand.  There are many different crafting ideas for young students on Mother’s Day.

  1. Mother’s Day Central provides 151 Craft Project Ideas for Mother’s Day.  Some of the crafts are more complicated  and intended for older children and require more material, while other craft ideas are perfect for young students like creating a frame to put a picture of themselves in, making paper flowers, or designing and decorating a greeting card
  2. Danielle’s Place has very cute craft ideas for mother’s day that aren’t as typical.  This includes creating a bookmark, puzzle cards, window clings, and jewelry made out of paper.  The great thing about all of the ideas on this page is that it provides you a list of materials needed for the project, a picture of the completed project, and the steps of how to complete the project.
  3. Enchanted Learning has projects for younger students.  They include printables with starter projects ideas.  They also have classroom connection worksheets with vocabulary words related to Mother’s Day.

Have fun celebrating this week!  Feel free to share your crafty lesson ideas for these holidays by commenting below!

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By Elizabeth Albert

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School Weather Safety

April has definitely lived up to the first part of its mantra “in like a lion.”  This month, parts of the United States have been ravaged by tornadoes, flooding, and fires which have destroyed homes, schools, and even entire towns.  Teachers and students need to be aware of the safety precautions and measures in order to stay safe during these natural and man-made disasters.

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Schools always have safety plans in case of these events directly correlating to the area of the country that you reside.  However, a unique lesson about learning about weather and disasters is to go above and beyond just teaching the students about staying safe.   A unique lesson idea would be to explore the ideas in more depth so that the students have a deeper understanding of the events.  Since this topic is close to their actual experiences in real life, they will take away the learning from the lesson and be able to apply it if and when needed throughout their lives.

This is especially important for students with special needs.   Some students may not be mobile nor have the independent skills needed to move into a safe area during a weather or disaster threat.  A plan should be in place to help student reach safety including other adults and students to assist those students in need.  If the students are educated on what to expect this will help the students to not panic during a real emergency.

Websites for Lesson Ideas about Fire, Flood, and Tornado Safety

Sparky the Fire Dog is a great resource for younger children to learn about fire safety in homes and schools.  On this website, there are interactive activities for students and lesson plans for teachers.   There are printables for a home fire safety checklist and an escape route grid that students can create.

To learn about wildfires, using the resources provided by Smokey the Bear are great to make connections with students.  This website has resources for all ages of students.  Older students can learn about the science of wildfires and how to fight wildfires while younger students can learn about being smart outdoors.

FEMA’s website for learning about disasters provides informative facts about the disasters along with interactive activities.  There are sections on wildfires, floods, and tornados.  Each section provides a written explanation appropriate for kids about the disasters, what they can do to prepare in case of the disaster, along with pictures of kids in the aftermath of the disasters that are not too graphic, but provide the students with the understanding of the impact of such an event.

Weather Wiz Kids is another website that provides fun and interactive information about weather related events.  This website is written by a meteorologist directly for kids and teachers. This website has experiments and activities to learn about the weather events along with safety information and weather related information on what causes the events.  There are many informative pictures that help making learning the subject visual and engaging.  Lesson plans are provided for teachers to make the connections between the information on the websites and activities and assessments students can complete to show their knowledge of the subject matter.

For older kids, Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers” would be an engaging resource for students to learn about tornados.  The show is a high energy show that gets close up images of the tornado chasers, tornados, and the devastation that they can leave behind.  Students can watch clips of the episodes, play the educational games, take online quizzes about the episodes, or follow their weather tracking site based on the various episodes.

All of these lesson ideas will help to prepare students in the event of a disaster along with teaching core-curriculum science content.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Opening of Baseball Season – Great Classroom Connections

As covered in many of my blog posts, students are much more engaged in learning when it is a relevant topic that they are interested in – especially if it relates to the “real world”.  The opening of baseball season, a favorite American past time, is one of these great “real world” events that can be connected into classroom curriculum.  Opening day is March 31st.

baseball

There are so many classroom connections with baseball that incorporate math, language arts, languages, geography, history, and even science and all  fit the standards-based instruction.  Here are some online resources for ideas on how you can incorporate baseball into your class curriculum.

The Teacher’s Corner – Baseball Season

The Teacher’s Corner has a wide variety of resources to teach core curriculum content in relation to baseball.  These activities are great for the elementary classroom or could be adapted for older grade levels and span across many different subject areas.  Activities include journal writing, vocabulary crosswords, figuring averages, the science of baseball, baseball-based review games for many different subjects, and problem solving.

The science of baseball activity was really fun and engaging.  Students learn about what the ‘sweet spot’ is of a baseball, how to react to and hit a fast ball, throwing a curve ball, along with other historical facts about baseball.  There are interactive activities and great animated pictures that bring the concepts to life.  The comic book style of the page will also be very engaging to middle school students and is considered very popular and current.

PBS:  The Tenth Inning

PBS has great resources for lesson plan ideas that connect with a documentary series about baseball entitled The Tenth Inning.  This video documentary chronicles the history and impact that baseball has had on society including the first black baseball player, women in baseball, and the growth of Hispanic and Asian players.  It also includes the scandals and triumphs of the baseball world from the 1990’s until today.

Among the many lessons that are found online that correlate with the video and includes “stadium consultants” where students act as the stadium managers and make choices about ticket prices and concessions, a lesson on “shadow ball” which is a warm up activity that was created by the Negro league, and “mapping baseball” where students would learn the history and growth of the baseball league.  All of the lessons I looked at were very engaging and I could see my 7th grade students really enjoying the activity and learning at the same time.

Another section on this site is “The 7th Inning Stretch”.  This page includes more open ended examples of lesson ideas including researching about the music of baseball, fantasy baseball, and the invention of the baseball.

Buddy Project

The Buddy Project has three simple lesson plans for teaching math concepts with a  baseball theme.  The first lesson incorporates the use of baseball cards.  The teacher should provide each student with a baseball card and discuss the information that is included on the back.  In this discussion the teacher would talk about the batting average and how it is calculated for each player.  The students could then be given the at-bats and number of hits so they could calculate the batting averages of some of the top players.

The next lesson has students playing math baseball on Funbrain.  This activity can be done individually or in pairs and is used as a review of basic math facts.  Students earn a base for every question they answercorrectly.  Competing against their classmates is a great way to motivate students to be more actively engaged in the activity.

The last lesson involves students solving money-based math problems in computation of salaries for baseball players.  The website provides a table of real baseball salaries and then provides a quiz based on the data table information.

All of the activities on this site have companion interactive activities that students can do online or on the interactive whiteboard in the front of the class.

Happy Opening Day!

Article by Laura Ketcham

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Spring has Sprung: Spring Activities for the Classroom

This past Monday was the official first day of spring.  I know in the Midwest and the Northeast this week there was a hint of spring and spring fever as the snow crocus started to bloom.  Spring represents a time of renewal.  Longer days, the smell of the fresh flowers, cut grass, and April coming in like a lion and out like a lamb.  Spring also represents a time of the year for students to feel refreshed and renewed.

Science Activities Related to Spring Time

There are many science related activities that can be taught during the beginning of spring.  Incorporating activities with plants or flowers is great during these months.  This could include teaching students about the parts of a flower, pollination, and how the plant absorbs water.  A fun activity for the students to do is the carnation color changing experiment.   Another experiment including plants could be the traditional experiments where students can feed the plant different liquids, provide more or less sunlight or changing of other variables.

spring

Spring also marks the vernal equinox. On this day, the amount of day light and night time will be almost the same because of the location of the sun in correlation to the equator.  In the northern hemisphere, this indicates the beginning of spring including the longer days that will head into the summer.  Many countries celebrate this day through a variety of festivals and customs.  Teaching students through interactive lessons like the Scholastic web hunt about the equinox are fun and educational.

Spring Cleaning of the Classroom

One way students can feel like they are getting a ‘fresh’ start to spring is by participating in spring cleaning.  Students can clean out their desks or lockers.  They should throw away the trash, donate used items that are no longer useful to them, but are still in good condition, and keep and organize items that they will need for the remainder of the school year.  This activity may seem very simplistic, but it is definitely necessary.

Students with special needs may become anxious during this process as it is difficult for some students to part with personal belongings or papers.  Care should be taken by the teacher to let the students complete this process over several days and not to just take the students belongings and throw what they feel is not important away.  Teachers and other students should respect the belongings of the other students and ask before touching or throwing something away.  Teachers can take part in this activity by spring cleaning their desk area and closets.

Spring Craft Ideas

There are many spring crafting ideas that connect with standards-based curriculum.  Kaboose has many great ideas of how teachers can incorporate learning about spring in the classroom.  The ideas include printables, crafts, foods, and organization ideas.  Craft ideas include making tissue paper flowers, clip butterflies, rock lady bugs, and baby jar gardens.  All of these crafts can be combined together to make an artificial garden to brighten up the classroom.  They also all use many recycled and reclaimed materials, most of which many teachers already have in the classroom.

Since lions and lambs are popular motifs for the weather during this time of the year, it would be great to tie in a weather lesson with making a craft of lions and lambs.  The lambs can be made of cotton balls and lions out of golden yarn.  The students could then write down facts of how the lion and lamb are used as metaphors for the weather.  The blog Little Fun, Little Learning has a great student example of this project idea.

Feel free to share your spring lessons by commenting!

Article By Laura Ketcham

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What in the Word? Wordle in the Classroom

Worlde is a free Web 2.0 website to create visual word clouds.  Students and teachers can paste text such as papers, notes, or even text from a webpage and the words are then arranged into a picture with the words that are used the most appearing more prominently on the page.  Students can then change the font type, font size, color, and choose various word layouts and variations.  Students can then either print their results or save their results to the gallery.  When the student saves their results, a link is created that can then be shared online via email or they can use the embed code to integrate it on another website like a class website or blog.

wordle

Students will be engaged using this technology.  Teachers can share Worldes with their students or students can create their own Wordles based on a class activity to then share with the class.  One great part about Worlde is that there is no need for students to create an account and it is very easy to use even for elementary school students.

Classroom Activities for Wordle

Transforming words into a visual display can help students with many language arts and communication skills.  For example, students can visually see the main idea of a story, the most frequently used words used in a student paper for vocabulary extension, to show the important concepts to be covered for an assignment by turning the directions into a Wordle, or for a comparison and contrast on two pieces of literature.  This can definitely help with differentiated instruction for special needs students.

There are many resources available online that have inventive ideas for incorporating Wordle in the classroom.  One presentation called 50 Ways and Tips to Use Wordle in the Classroom provides ideas of how students and teachers can use Wordle in the classroom.  Here is another resource link of 20 more ways to use Wordle in the classroom.

One example is to input a chapter or section from a book or poem and create a Wordle.  Students can then view the Wordle and have a class discussion on the literary choices, vocabulary, main idea, or word choices of the author.  Another activity idea would be for the teacher to input student papers (without name) to share with the other students in the class.  Topics could be covered about word choice, frequency of words, students could try to determine the topic of the paper or provide feedback via constructive criticism.

An idea for the beginning of the school year would be for a teacher to create a Wordle based on classroom expectations or a syllabus.  The more prominent words would then display the importance of the words used in the documents.  A creative hands-on way to use Wordle is to use it while developing a classroom poll.  For example, ask students what their favorite colors are and enter the text as they respond.  After all of the students respond you then show the results to the students and then they can visually see which answer was selected the most and the least.  It could also be used as an activity to have students guess what they will be learning about or to guess who has written the piece.

There are so many creative ways to use Wordle in the classroom.  Have you used Wordle in your classroom?  Feel free to comment and share your Wordle activities.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Back from Break: New Year’s Lesson Ideas for Students

The sign winter break is coming to a close is always the countdown to the New Year.  When students and teachers head back to school after break, they are refreshed, excited, and ready to take on new academic challenges.  Starting off the New Year on the right foot is very similar to the first day of school all over again.  Take this renewed interest to reacquaint students to classroom rules and expectations along with taking the time to share experiences of winter break.  This will help your classroom and students to be successful for the New Year.

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Writing Activities for the New Year

Creative writing and writing prompts are a great way to start of the New Year for your classes.  Getting students back into the academic mindset can be difficult, but if you tailor the assignments to include reflections of the past year or break time activities, and also looking toward the next year and their future, students can really be engaged in the writing process while gaining their academic bearings.   The Teacher’s Corner has many New Year’s writing activities along with links to other websites that have other activities and lesson ideas.  To encourage journal writing they have a link to a printables page with lined paper with a New Year’s theme.  This creative paper can encourage students to write.  Many different lessons can be based on using this paper like making a New Year’s resolution or a list of accomplishments they would like to achieve over the next year.  These can then be shared with the class.  Sharing these goals helps to make individuals accountable for reaching for their goals.

The History of New Year’s

Another great back to school activity for the New Year is for the students to learn about the history of New Year’s.  The History Channel has many videos about the history and traditions of the New Year’s celebrations.  Students could also learn about how different cultures and countries celebrate the incoming of the New Year.   Education World has a great article for teachers to get ideas about what to teach students when learning about the variety of calendars and how different cultures celebrate the New Year on different dates.  A great tie-in would be to present the materials to the students and then they would create their own calendar based on their findings and opinions.

Art & New Year’s

Of course, you can’t teach about New Year’s without incorporating at least one art related activity.  However, these activities don’t have to be meaningless add-ons or just for fun.  Tying in art activities with core curriculum concepts is easy.  For example, if you have students create their own calendar based on learning about other cultures and how and when they celebrate New Year’s, students can become artists when labeling the dates or creating the top part of a calendar.  Here is a great template to use for this activity from About.com

Students can also learn to sing “Auld Lange Syne.”  During this lesson, students can also learn about the history of the song and its importance to English speaking cultures.   Another great site to review for material is Wilstar.  This site has the history and academic connections for many of the major holidays.

For an “overall resource” Suite101 offers a page about activities for students when they return from winter break.  This site includes writing prompts, math ideas, and review games for students to get back into the academic swing. 

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Tools for Teaching a Sensitive Subject – Health and Grooming

eaching 7thgrade is definitely one of the most difficult grades to teach.  This is typically the time when students are going through many changes in their lives.  These students aren’t the babies in the middle school anymore, but they aren’t getting ready to head off to high school either.  They are ‘stuck’ in the middle and they are going through many changes; hormonal changes, body changes, emotional changes, and behavioral changes.  One day they love their friends, the next day they hate their friends.  One day the girls love boys, the next day boys have cooties again.  One day they want to be the class clown, the next day they want to be the teachers’ pet.  Through all of these changes, there is one major necessary and sensitive subject to talk to students about – hygiene habits.

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Health Class Essentials

Typically the 7th grade science teacher at my school holds a week long lesson around this time of year discussing these exact changes.  This is centered around a unit on Health and Nutrition.  She discusses not only the changes that take place during puberty, nutrition, and exercise, but also the sensitive subject of items as brushing teeth twice a day, brushing hair, taking showers every day, washing hands, and most importantly, the use of deodorant.  Most typically, the students then go home and continue the discussion with the parents to make any needed changes and updates to their morning health and beauty routines.

These subjects that not only need to be covered with tweens, but it is also an important subject to cover with special needs students of all ages.  If kids learn the habits when they are younger, and learn the different changes and necessities as they age, it will make socialization and ‘growing up’ a little bit easier.  Students who do not learn these skills typically get picked on with hurtful comments and during the day at school teachers and other students hear those famous phrases “I don’t want to sit next to him, he smells” or “her breath stinks, I don’t want to work on the project with her.”

Life Skills Lessons & Activities

For special education students, this topic is usually covered in a unit or lesson on life skills.  A great way to start off the discussion for students to learn these health and grooming skills is through the use of communication cards.  Students who are non-verbal will have these cards (either physical cards or digital) to help them communicate.  You can pull out the specific skills you want to cover to spring board the conversation.  Another way to approach this subject is by having guest speakers like doctors and dentists to come in and show them various products to use, or when possible, to model how to do some of the various grooming skills.  They may even be able to provide samples of items like toothpaste or deodorant.  A good guide that I read on how to teach life skills to special needs students on a site called How To Do Things.

Another great resource for kids to learn about this topic is through the Teens Health Site.  This site is written specifically for teens and tells them what they want to know, in their ‘lingo’, about the changes they go through from being kids to teenagers.  Two adaptations on this page that were really great for special needs and ESOL students is that the page has links so that all of the pages on the site can be read aloud to the student and they also have Spanish translations!  One idea to incorporate using this site in the classroom is to have the students work in small groups to research one main concept and then create a presentation on the topic to share with the other students.  They could make something like a PowerPoint or a video to cover the topic.  They projects could even have a ‘fun’ twist by having them make infomercial-style presentations where they first cover the topic and then they can ‘sell’ a product that can help solve the problem.  For example, if one group is covering the topic of why we sweat, they could discuss the topic in science terms, and then ‘sell’ the solution, which would be deodorant or perfume sprays.

There are many different ways to teach about health and hygiene topics.   It is a sensitive, but important topic to cover for all ages of students.

Other Online Resources to Teach about Health & Hygiene

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Voting Day Activities for Students

uesday, November 2nd is a very important day in America.  It is the day where we are holding mid-term elections for 37 of the 100 senate seats.  State votes will also take place on topics ranging from education to state spending.  Elections will also be held that day for many governor positions along with other state and local government positions.  Teaching students about the importance and history of voting is vital to the basis of why the United States was formed and continues to be a free nation.  The Elections that will be held on this day will shape the next few years of American politics and government.

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Here are some great online resources for lessons and projects for teaching about voting and elections for students in grades K-12.

A to Z Teacher Stuff Election Resources

On A to Z Teacher Stuff, they have an annotated list of election resources.  This site has activities and lessons for all grade levels.  For older students, they have activities like critiquing campaign ads, mapping election results, news scavenger hunts, debate activities, and voting games.  This site has only a few activities for younger students that are adaptions of the lessons for the older students.  The elections mapping and the scavenger hunts would be great for students of all ages and levels.

Teach-nology Election Lesson Plans

On Teach-nology, they have a site dedicated to civics, voting, and elections lesson plans.   This site has some lessons that you may only download a few pages or parts of a lesson for free, but the remainder of the materials must be downloaded by purchasing a year-long membership to the site.  However, there are also lesson links that direct you to other great, free teaching resources.  One great hands-on lesson on this site is called Every Vote Counts.  This lesson gets the students involved in the process of voting by holding a mock school election.  The students are involved in the whole process from creating the ballot, campaigning, voting, and counting the votes.  A great lesson for older students would be to review political cartoons and their meaning and impact upon the election.

Teachable Moments Lesson Plans on Social Responsibility

Teachable Moments has grade-level separated activities based on the topic of social responsibility.  The topics range from teaching about important, but sensitive issues like cyberbullying, homophobia, war, climate change, controversial laws, and dealing with a crisis through positive and impactful lesson plans and activities.  The activities are created as ‘teachable moments’ in society arise that make the topic an important newsworthy and education worthy topic of discussion.

This site also has lessons about elections, voting, politics, and the United States Government.  One high school lesson involves the topic of the ‘broken senate’ and filibustering.  There are reading passages that the class reads together and then discussion questions to further the depth of the conversation.  Another middle school lesson encourages the students to look at the qualities that political figures and the president should possess.  It also includes information on how adults may make decision on who they vote for and how they learn about the issues and candidates before voting day.  This is a great website that helps to teach difficult subjects in an appropriate educational manner and setting.

Election Day Kaboose Activities

Kaboose has great craft and activities ideas to teach younger students about Election Day.  They have craft ideas to create election boxes, voting booths, and election pins/stickers.  These crafts can then be tied into mock-elections like voting on the snack for next week or who gets to be the line leader for the day.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Peace Day & First Day of Fall Activities for Students

Students always enjoy when a teacher is able to tie in special days into their curriculum.  It makes learning about the subject ‘real’ and interesting for the students.  Next week will be the 28th annual Peace Day Celebration around the world.  Many countries across the globe participate in Peace Day by holding events, ceremonies, and spreading the message of peace to commemorate this day.  Next week also marks the first day of fall, at 11:09pm on Wednesday the 22nd.  This day is also called the Autumnal Equinox.  Marking this day in your classroom is a great way to incorporate history, geography, and science all into one lesson.

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Peace Day

On the International Peace Day website you can find information about the history of Peace Day, local events that will be held by various organizations in your area about Peace Day, information about planning a Peace Day event, along with many links to various organizations, activities, and online broadcasts for Peace Day events.

For Peace Day at my school, we have an entire school-wide celebration.  Every grade participates in a different activity that celebrates peace.  Activities range from artwork, essays, poetry, dances, skits, and speeches.  All of the different components come together and are shared during the school-wide assembly.

Some activities that you can incorporate at your school for Peace Day include planting a ‘peace’ tree, making origami cranes, writing poems about peace, or coloring in a dove (the universal symbol of peace).   Planet Pals has great activities for learning about Peace Day in the classroom including learning about the Nobel Peace Prize, the Peace Bell, the story of Peace Day, and famous peace quotes.  This is a great site for middle school students to learn about Peace Day.  The First School website has suggests for the teacher to create lessons about Peace Day.  The activities include book reflections on simple biographies of individuals who strived for peace, crafts including flowers and wreaths, along with connections made to other peaceful holidays and events.  These activities are created for young students, but can be adapted for different levels.

Autumnal Equinox

Teaching about the Autumnal Equinox is a great way to incorporate a variety of subjects into one lesson around an interesting and meaningful subject.  Depending on the level of students, they can learn about the earth’s tilt, the difference between summer and winter, how it affects the difference hemispheres of the earth, or simply how on the Autumnal Equinox in the United States that day and night will be almost equal at 12 hours each.

The calendar-updates website provides background information about the Autumnal Equinox along with images and links to help understand the meaning of the autumnal equinox.  This site also contains historical information about other holidays as well and is a handy teacher resource.   The Teacher’s Guide has a variety of different activities and lessons incorporating different levels of students and subject areas for the theme of fall.  These activities include SMART board templates, crafts, recipes, printouts, online resources, and lesson plans.  One of my favorite activities on this site is learning about why the leaves change color in the fall which includes reading activities for several levels of students (including ages and ability levels) along with a science component.

To engage the students in learning the standards and concepts you are required to cover as a teacher is much more rewarding by incorporating fun and interactive lessons with meaningful topics.

Article By: Laura Ketcham

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