FREE Equinox Worksheet and More Equinox Teaching Resources

Teachers, here is a FREE equinox worksheet written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy it!

The spring equinox presents a wonderful opportunity for a mini-lesson incorporating science, social studies, and (thanks to my worksheet) reading comprehension.  A basic lesson on the equinox helps students understand why we have seasons, and how the equinox marks the beginning of spring and fall.  If you have time, teach students about cultural traditions surrounding the equinox.  (St. Patrick’s Day and Easter immediately come to mind—read this article for more details.)

To help students remember the difference between equinox and solstice—and which seasons they mark—I explain that the solstice marks the beginning of “extreme” seasons: summer and winter.  The equinox marks the beginning of “transitional” seasons: spring and fall.  See if this helps your students!

Resources for Teaching the Equinox:

> Incorporate reading comprehension and introduce your equinox lessons with my FREE worksheet about the equinox.

> The YouTube video (shown above) is like an animated model that shows the earth’s orbit around the sun, so you can show students the equinox, solstice, and the seasons.  You might mention that the earth spins one complete rotation on its axis 365 times during a year’s complete orbit around the sun.  Explain to students that one day is the time it takes the earth to make one complete rotation around its axis.  Note that the earth appears to be rotating more slowly in this video.

> This animated graphic shows the revolution/rotation very clearly.  You can adjust the speed of the earth’s revolution around the sun while you explain to the class.

> Teach students about cultural traditions relating to the equinox with this article from About.com.

> The spring equinox is considered a global holiday by the United Nations.  Read this article to learn more.

> A quick Google Image search for “equinox diagram” yields helpful visual aids for your students.

> Your students can learn about the equinox—and practice with articles—using this worksheet from insideout.net.  Click on student’s worksheets for the pdf.

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets by Corey Green @ Mar 12, 2018

 

Book Review: Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
by Tomie dePaola
Available at Amazon.com

With Tomie dePaola’s signature illustration and simple writing style, this book tells the story of Saint Patrick, from his roots as a Roman slave to the height of his powers.  At the end of the book, Tomie shows myths and legends about Saint Patrick.  My favorite is driving the snakes from Ireland—but I also love the picture of him cruising across the water on a rock.

Activities and tie-ins:

Color Celtic Designs: Your children will enjoy the Celtic design elements in the illustrations.  Click here to print Celtic designs and alphabets for your students to color and  here to print Celtic knot patterns.

Learn about Celtic Designs: Your class will get so much more out of coloring Celtic designs if you take a few minutes to teach them about the history.  This website is perfect for a quick study.  I particularly liked learning about Celtic animals.  Kids love animals, so you know it’s a natural fit for the classroom.

Illustrate & Write: Tomie dePaola’s deceptively simple style is enticing for children to imitate—your class would love to illustrate their favorite part, writing a short paragraph underneath the illustration.

Posted in Book Reviews,Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Mar 6, 2018

 

Take your class to the computer lab for St. Patrick’s Day online games

IrishFlagCelebrate St. Patrick’s Day by playing some FREE online games during your computer lab time.  Here are some fun ones for elementary students:

Posted in Holidays by Corey Green @ Mar 1, 2018

 

Teaching Notes for Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, you may want to show the “I Have a Dream” speech to your students.  I have found that this speech is captivating for elementary school students, but it is absolutely necessary for you to teach them about the speech before they listen.

I’d like to share my teaching notes (pdf) on MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech with you and your students.  I hope it helps you teach the historical context, allusions, and rhetorical techniques.  If you copy my teaching notes for your students, I suggest you read the speech with them and explain the context.  Then, listening to Dr. King give the speech will be an unforgettable experience for your students.

Why are teaching notes so important?  The “I Have a Dream” speech is rich in allusions: historical, biblical, and even financial.  Your students will appreciate these allusions—if they know about them.

Take the first few paragraphs: will your students understand the significance of the speech’s setting, the Lincoln Memorial, and the phrase “a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today” if you don’t explain these details?  Will your students understand how the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution compare to a promissory note?  My teaching notes explain these details clearly.

What about the famous part of the speech, at the end?  For example, knowledge of geography is essential to understanding the “let freedom ring” section.  Dr. King begins it with “let freedom ring…” [in famous landmarks of northern and western states]… “But not only that.  Let freedom ring…” in famous landmarks in the southern states.]  The sequence will be more memorable for your students if they understand this distinction.  Without teaching notes, your students might miss much of the meaning.

I recommend you buy the Martin Luther King Jr. – I Have a Dream speech on DVD rather than listen to the speech through the Internet.  This DVD introduces the speech with real footage of events leading up to it.  You can also watch a featurette about the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.  Your students will enjoy seeing the marchers and will be impressed with how well-dressed the marchers are.  (Every year, this is the first thing my students notice.)

Free “I Have a Dream” speech at AmericanRhetoric.com

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Feb 18, 2018

 

Groundhog Day including a FREE Worksheet

Groundhog Day is a fun, low-stress holiday for the elementary classroom.

Teach your students about the history of Groundhog Day using my Groundhog Day Worksheet.  You will find vocabulary definitions, think and respond questions, and a fun tongue twister about woodchucks.  (Did you know a woodchuck and a groundhog are the same creature?)

Visit Groundhog.org, the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, for pictures, articles, and resources for teachers.  (I like the songs to the tune of “Winter Wonderland” and “Up on the Housetop.”)

“Punxsutawney” [puhngk-suh-taw-nee ] originally was settled by the Delaware Indians.
The name derives from a Native American term which translates to “town of the sandflies.”
The town is located in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, 84 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Here is a quick brush-up on Groundhog Day history from my worksheet:

Groundhog Day is a holiday celebrated on February 2nd.  According to folklore, if it is cloudy when the groundhog emerges from its burrow, the groundhog will leave the burrow, signaling that winter will soon end.  If it is not cloudy, the groundhog will see its shadow and retreat back into the burrow.  Winter will continue for six more weeks.

Groundhog Day began as a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition in the 18th and 19th centuries (1700s and 1800s).  In Pennsylvania today, you can see official Groundhog Day early morning festivals.  You can enjoy special food, hear speeches, and even watch a g’spiel (play or skit).  You might find that only the Pennsylvania German dialect is spoken.  Those who speak English at the event pay a penalty, usually a coin per English word spoken, to a bowl at the center of the table.

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 30, 2018

 

Mim’s Christmas Jam

bookby Andrea Davis Pinkney
AR Reading Level 3.9; 0.5 points
Available at Amazon.com

Summary: Saraleen and Royce just want their daddy to come home for Christmas, but he can’t because he is working to build the NYC subway, and the foreman won’t let the crew leave.  Mim (mom) sends in some of her famous jam, and the crew and foreman like it so much that they give the workers the day off after all.

Activities: I might help students use prior knowledge and experience by having them discuss favorite family recipes.  Then, we’d read the book.  This is a good Read-Aloud or independent reader for grades 2-4.    This is a good book for predicting.  At the back of the book is an author’s note on building the subway.  That would be especially interesting for New Yorkers.

Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Dec 18, 2017

 

Good Holiday Presents for Teachers

Many kids ask their parents if they can give small holiday presents to their teachers. Here are some gift ideas that are always appreciated:

A card with a heartfelt message

Christmas tree ornaments—your child should sign first and last name and date them (Josie Jones, 2016) so teachers can reminisce when decorating every year.

Gift card for a local learning/teaching store

Gift card to a discount store like Wal-Mart or Target

Supplies for the class: sanitizer, pencils, white board cleaner, Kleenex, etc.

A personalized gift (I love my Miss Green apron!)

Flowers or a small potted plant

Amazon gift card

Blank note cards—teachers write a lot of notes. (You can buy nice blank cards at stores like Ross and Marshalls for about $5 or less)

iTunes gift card

A recommendation letter, typed and signed, recommending the teacher. The teacher can hold this in her file and use it for applying for another job, make a copy and give it to the principal for her personnel file, etc. It can go a long, long way.

Handmade gifts: bags, decorative items, etc.

Two gifts I personally appreciate are chocolates or candy I can share with the class (Dum Dums, Jolly Ranchers, etc.)

Remember, your child’s classroom teacher is not the only important adult at school. You might want to send in cards to a specials teacher, librarian, bus driver, instructional aide, school nurse, or the custodian who always greets your child. Classroom teachers often receive many presents at holiday time, but these school workers are often overlooked. Something as simple as a holiday card with a personalized note would be much appreciated.

Posted in Holidays,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Dec 11, 2017

 

Resources for using the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! to teach about the attack on Pearl Harbor

Movies and movie clips help students picture historical events.  Tora! Tora! Tora! is a classic film about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Made by a joint effort of American and Japanese filmmakers, the movie depicts the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Tora! Tora! Tora! is a good choice for teachers because it is a lot less violent than movies made in recent years.  Nevertheless, it is best for middle school and high school.  Certain clips may be appropriate for older elementary school students.  Elementary school teachers may want to watch the movie as enrichment, because it helps them describe to students the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Tora! Tora! Tora! is long (144 minutes), so teachers will want worksheets or projects to make sure students are active audience members.  I found several good worksheets from the Internet, now gathered here in one place.  One worksheet accompanies clips from the movie and gives the run time for the clips, making it easier for a teacher to cue them up.

Click here for another ClassAntics post about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This post features resources to teach about FDR’s speech, along with more general resources for teaching about the attack.

Tora! Tora! Tora! Worksheets:

Worksheet to accompany clips from Tora! Tora! Tora! The worksheet notes the clips by time, making it easier for a teacher with a DVD or Blu-ray to cue them up.

Worksheet for Tora! Tora! Tora! It’s a Word document, so you can easily make your own changes or additions to the worksheet.

Good questions for a Tora! Tora! Tora! worksheet: This is just an html file, and I wouldn’t recommend printing it like this.  You could copy and paste into your own Word file, make the formatting better, and decide if you want to keep each question.

Resources:

Teach With Movies’ guide to Tora! Tora! Tora!  This helps you justify the movie to administration and defend your choice to parents.  You could also give this as a resource if you send parents a letter about the movie.

Wikipedia page on Tora! Tora! Tora! This is also helpful for informing administrators and parents.

Awakening the Giant: National WWII Museum’s lesson plan on teaching about the attack on Pearl Harbor.   This is a VERY helpful resource.  It gives short reading passages, charts, primary source activities, a reference map, and a glossary.

National Park Service Resources: Remembering Pearl Harbor with readings, maps, and activities.

BBC History: Pearl Harbor: A Rude Awakening: This resource from the UK is a good complement to resources developed for American students.

The Guardian article on how to teach about the attack on Pearl Harbor: I thought it would be interesting to see how lessons on the attack taught in Britain compare to lessons written for American students.

 

Posted in Academics,Social Studies,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 4, 2017

 

Attack on Pearl Harbor: teaching tools including two FREE worksheets

“…December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

If your class is like mine, you will find that students know next to nothing about this tragic and important event.

I have taught the following lessons to both third and fifth graders.  Students are eager to learn about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and I never have any trouble keeping their attention.

First, I describe the event to students, and place it in the context of World War II.

Here is a good reading comprehension worksheet with a short passage about Pearl Harbor.  This passage gives American embargoes on Japan as the reason for the attack.  I think that children should know that destroying the Pacific Fleet was another Japanese goal for the attack.

I read President Roosevelt’s famous speech and explain it to the students.  I give students a copy of the speech.  You can print the speech and listen to it at AmericanRhetoric.com  Students are fascinated to hear this address from so long ago.  They listen much better if they can read along.

I use information from the National WW2 Museum fact sheet.  Also, I playa video clip about the attack from the History Channel.  It shows visuals and features the beginning of President Roosevelt’s speech to Congress.

After students understand what happened, I tie the lesson into writing by showing a first draft of FDR’s speech, from the National Archives.  It’s interesting to see how he developed the most famous phrases.

InstructorWeb has a nice packet about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It’s appropriate for students in 5th grade and up.   The packet features a passage to read, a chart, and questions: multiple choice, short answer, matching, and essay.

Posted in Academics,Social Studies,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Nov 27, 2017

 

Thanksgiving lesson: write a how-to paper on preparing a Thanksgiving feast

ThanksgivingFeastThanksgiving is the season for giving thanks…but your students have written thanks-themed pieces every year.  Why not try something different?  Challenge your students to write a paper on how to make  Thanksgiving dinner.  The results will be hilarious, and the piece will become a family favorite for years to come.

Plan for your students to spend at least an hour on this project.  They’ll want to brainstorm (as a class), write, then decorate their paper.  It’s really important that you have students do this project on a paper they decorate.  One, it makes a better Thanksgiving souvenir.  Two, decorating the paper makes kids want to spend a little more time on their writing.

You’ll probably need to brainstorm as a class.  Have the kids list common Thanksgiving dishes.  Don’t let them crowd source tips on how to make the dinner.  You don’t want a practical child ruining a family’s fun.  You want parents cackling as they read naive tips on how to prepare a feast.  (Heat the oven to 1000 degrees, cook the turkey in the microwave, etc.)

You can make this project simple or complex.  The simple version is to focus on preparing the turkey.  That’s good for kindergarten-first grade.  Older kids should tackle the whole feast.  That way, they’ll have more opportunities to write something unintentionally hilarious.

This writing assignment is perfect for a buddy-class project.  Older kids can help younger kids type the assignment, or older kids can do the writing or help with spelling.

Click here for printable Thanksgiving stationery.  Click here for Thanksgiving stationery files.  (Perfect for the computer lab with your buddy class.)

Other ClassAntics posts about Thanksgiving:

Let Scholastic Help You Teach the First Thanksgiving

The Mouse on the Mayflower

FREE Worksheet for the Movie The Mouse on the Mayflower

Posted in Food,Holidays,Writing by Corey Green @ Nov 20, 2017

 

FREE Worksheet for the Movie The Mouse on the Mayflower

Celebrate Thanksgiving and give yourself a little prep time by having your class watch Mouse on the Mayflower and complete this FREE worksheet.

Mouse on the Mayflower is a time-honored Thanksgiving movie. Your class will enjoy the cartoon story told from a mouse’s point of view.

For older students, you can use this FREE comprehension worksheet to increase the educational value a little. The questions are easily completed by a fifth-grader who pays attention. This worksheet is perfect for grades 4-6. In my experience, third graders just stress out and interrupt each other asking for the answers because they missed them.

Here’s a previous post about Mouse on the Mayflower.

Follow up other mouse-eye views of history. My favorite is Ben and Me, a wonderful book by Robert Lawson and a fun cartoon movie by Disney. It’s a great way to teach students about Benjamin Franklin and set the stage for a unit on the American Revolution. Another good mouse story is She Was Nice to Mice: The Other Side of Elizabeth I’s Character Never Before Revealed by Previous Historians, a cute mini-novel written by 80s star Ally Sheedy when she was twelve.

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Nov 13, 2017

 

Halloween tip for parents of kids who can’t eat candy: buy it back!

Halloween can be a rough time for kids who can’t eat candy.  (Possible reasons: food allergies, diabetes, etc.)  Trick-or-treating is just so tempting, and it’s a bummer to go through the activity but not be able to eat the spoils.  Missing out on trick-or-treating to avoid the temptation sounds even worse.  Here’s one way to handle it: do a candy buyback.

Remember how fun it was to come home from trick-or-treating and show off the plunder? Well, a candy-free kid may not be able to eat it, but he could still have a good time.  Parents can arrange a set price per piece of candy, or make it a math lesson by assigning different values to different types.  The child could spend Halloween night counting his riches.  The next day, he could spend the candy money on something fun.

I overheard this one day at a crosswalk in Washington, DC.   I must admit that I followed the two conversationalists (dads) until I heard the whole tip.  It’s a good one, and I hope it helps someone this year.

The tip is so quick and simple.  I thought the post could use a little more.  Here is History.com’s Bet You Didn’t Know: Halloween.  It’s a well-produced short about the history of the holiday.  I believe it is totally school-appropriate.  Enjoy!

You might enjoy these other Halloween posts at ClassAntics:

New Orleans Halloween: teach a Fall Festival lesson about the culture of New Orleans.  Includes a FREE powerpoint of New Orleans cultural symbols and landmarks, book recommendations, and music tips.

A good way to organize a Halloween Party: learn how to create a party for your whole grade level by setting up a rotation.  Each teacher need only prepare one activity.

Do any of your students opt out of celebrating Halloween or other holidays?  Read how to accommodate that student in a pleasant way in the post Buddy Up to Help Students Who Don’t Celebrate Holidays or Birthdays.

Make it a theme day with Halloween Math Worksheets.

Write spooky Halloween stories using a sensory word bank

Posted in Food,Holidays,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Nov 6, 2017

 

Buddy Up to Help Students Who Don’t Celebrate Holidays or Birthdays

Do you have students in your class who don’t celebrate certain holidays?  If so, this tip on buddying with another teacher is for you!

Network with other teachers and find out who shares your dilemma.  You can buddy up and help your students feel welcome and happy during holiday and birthday celebrations.

An email to the school is a good way to find your matches.  Ask if anyone would like to get together and plan for how to help students who don’t celebrate holidays (and/or birthdays.)  You could also coordinate this at staff meeting. If several teachers are in the same boat, you should all be buddies.  After all, one teacher’s class might be hard to reach during an impromptu birthday celebration, and it’s nice to have backups.

Early in the school year, arrange a joint activity for your classes, or at least trade students so your non-holiday child can meet the other class.  (The child could bring a friend or two to make this less awkward—and less obvious to the host class what you’re doing.  It will be harder to connect it with religion.)

Set up a standing arrangement for birthdays.  Your child can help (or just visit) another class during birthday celebrations.  (If the child wants this.  In my experience, some students who are Jehovah’s Witnesses have no problem being there but not participating.)

Make plans for holiday parties.  Include de facto holiday parties, like your “Fall Festival.”  (Everyone knows that’s Halloween.)  Schedule your party at a different time than your buddy’s party.  The affected students can visit each other’s classrooms during party time.  Try to plan a fun or engaging activity for that time.

Contact the students’ parents.  You might find out that the parents plan to keep their child home during certain parties or holidays.  This is good to know in advance.  In this case, you should still host your buddy class’s child, because that student still needs a positive place to be.

Tell the principal and other staff about your plans.  Someone else may be in the same situation and just didn’t realize you were organizing.  Your principal may want to remember this technique for future years, maybe after you have moved on.  Your principal may want to talk about your idea at a principals’ meeting.  Other schools may use your idea.

My students really enjoy hosting these kids from other classes.  They go out of their way to make the guest child feel welcome and valued.  I think that buddying up like this benefits all students and builds a stronger community.


 

Write spooky Halloween stories using a sensory word bank

HalloweenIt’s not often that students are truly interested in imbuing their writing with sensory details.  Halloween is one of those rare occasions.  Here are some tips for encouraging students to write vivid details.

Practice as a class

Working together, choose a spooky setting and story premise.  On the board, create a chart with five columns, one for each sense.  (Sight, smell, taste, sound, touch)  Fill each column with at least three examples.  Then, encourage students to try turning the sensory details into sentences that could fit into a story.

Create individual sensory word banks

Once students start writing their spooky Halloween stories, they are more interested in action than description.  A little planning can go a long way.  Encourage students to brainstorm sensory details for their stories.

Separate description from storytelling

Writing a Halloween story with vivid descriptions might be too much for your students.  You could encourage students to write descriptive Halloween paragraphs and illustrate them.

Create a grab bag of sensory details

Cut scratch paper into eighths.  Give each student five scraps.  Then, have each student write a sensory detail on each scrap.  Put all the scraps in a grab bag and redistribute them.  Challenge students to create a paragraph that incorporates all the sensory details they pulled from the grab bag.

Read spooky stories and descriptions aloud

As students work, take frequent breaks for sharing.  You can choose good examples or allow students to volunteer to read their efforts to the class.  Students will be motivated by seeing their peers succeed at description.

Happy writing!

You might enjoy these other Halloween posts at ClassAntics:

New Orleans Halloween: teach a Fall Festival lesson about the culture of New Orleans.  Includes a FREE powerpoint of New Orleans cultural symbols and landmarks, book recommendations, and music tips.

A good way to organize a Halloween Party: learn how to create a party for your whole grade level by setting up a rotation.  Each teacher need only prepare one activity.

Do any of your students opt out of celebrating Halloween or other holidays?  Read how to accommodate that student in a pleasant way in the post Buddy Up to Help Students Who Don’t Celebrate Holidays or Birthdays.

Make it a theme day with Halloween Math Worksheets.

Posted in Holidays,Writing by Corey Green @ Oct 23, 2017

 

A Good Way to Organize a Halloween Party

… I mean Fall Festival!

Anyway, I learned a cool organizational technique from other teachers.  Basically, the teachers at your grade level each develop a 15 or 20-minute Halloween activity.  On the afternoon of the party, set aside about two hours.  The classes rotate to each teacher’s classroom.  Parents who attend the celebration can travel with your class, helping them to complete the activities.

This cuts down on your workload and helps you fill the entire afternoon.  Additionally, it’s a party that doesn’t revolve around food.

Ideas for activities:
> Read a story and do a simple craft
> Decorate jack-o’-lanterns (use orange construction paper or an orange paper plate as the pumpkin)
> Make Tootsie Roll Pop ghosts with lollipops and tissue paper.  I simplified this by having students draw the details on their ghost rather than glue things.  Gluing things leads to problems.  Other teachers are braver than I am about crafts.
> Play Halloween charades
> Halloween Pictionary
> Halloween Hangman

A quick search for Halloween activities yields many good ideas.  Start planning now so you can send home letters requesting supplies!

The morning of your party, do Halloween-themed math from math-drills.com.  The math is at all levels, so you are sure to find something for your students.