Make tasty school lunches for kids (or teachers) with Laura Fuentes’ cookbook and Momables meal plans

HomemadeLunchesParents, get tips for making healthy school lunches from Momables!  Teachers, these recipes make great lunches for you and your family.

Momables.com has recipes, meal plans, and products.  The recipes were developed by creator Laura Fuentes in conjunction with dozens of moms, a chef and a nutritionist. The idea is to create delicious, fresh foods that kids will actually eat.

Momables has a nice collection of free recipes, but the good stuff comes with a subscription.  Then you’ll have access to meal plans and recipes.  The recipes are single serve, so it’s easy to figure the appropriate amount to make for your needs.  You can try Momables for a free week.  After that, you pay $8 a month or $79 for a year.  Momables has a regular plan and a grain-free plan for kids with allergies or special dietary needs.

An easy way to try Momables without the plan is to buy (or borrow from the library) a great cookbook from Momables creator Laura Fuentes.  It’s called The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet: Make Lunches Your Kids Will Love with More Than 200 Deliciously Nutritious Meal Ideas.  It has tips on stocking your fridge and pantry to streamline lunch making.  There are organizational feedback charts that let you track your kids’ reaction to each recipe.  The recipes are delicious and cover hot and cold lunches.  There are soups, snacks, riffs on sandwiches, desserts–it’s great!

As much as possible, try to involve your kids in planning and making school lunches.  Kids will value them more, eat lunch rather than trade, and learn valuable cooking and planning skills.

Other ClassAntics posts about school lunch:

Back to school: watch out for kids that don’t have a lunch

Mix It Up At Lunch Day: October 30

How Lunch Money Works

Help your child fill up at school lunch

Posted in Food,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Dec 15, 2014

 

Create Goofus & Gallant skits for classroom do’s and don’ts

boyraisinghand2Remember Goofus and Gallant?  The old cartoons in Highlights for Children demonstrated proper (and improper ) behavior.  Teach your students about Goofus and Gallant, then create skits and cartoons to illustrate do’s and dont’s for the classroom.

Goofus and Gallant activities can be as elaborate or simple as you wish.  Whatever your speed, start by showing your students what the original was like.  Click here for Goofus and Gallant archives going back to 1959.  After a few examples, your class will be well-versed in the Goofus & Gallant format.

Now, have some fun!  Brainstorm classroom procedures that could benefit from the Goofus & Gallant treatment.  Assign them to groups of 2-4 students and challenge kids to create 20 second Goofus & Gallant demonstrations for the class.  Your students will have a great time creating and performing these skits.

You can also ask students to make Goofus & Gallant comic strips.

Don’t limit Goofus & Gallant to the classroom.  Rules and procedures for many school activities make good Goofus & Gallant topics.

  • Recess
  • Lunch
  • Before & after school
  • Bus, parent dropoff & pickup, walkers, bike riders, etc.
  • Social skills: making friends, interacting with adults on campus, getting along with the family, etc.
Posted in First Year Teachers,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 8, 2014

 

Get your class excited about Peter Pan Live!

Peter Pan and Captain HookPeter Pan Live! airs on Thursday, December 4th at 8/7c.  Encourage your students to watch.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to see a live musical.  It will be like Broadway came to their living room.

The show looks promising.  Allison Williams stars as Peter, Christopher Walken plays Captain Hook, and Tony Award-winner Christian Borle performs the roles of Mr. Smee and George Darling.  It’s from the producers of The Sound of Music Live!, which I thought was an excellent show with great production values.  I can’t wait to see what they do with Peter Pan.  I am most excited about seeing Christopher Walken as Captain Hook.  I read in Entertainment Weekly that he is a professional dancer who fell into acting, and that his tap-dance scenes will knock America’s socks off.

For a little character education, tell your students how hard Allison Williams worked to get the role.  I read in Allure that as soon as Peter Pan Live! was announced, she contacted her agent.  “Too soon?” she asked.  The agent said yes–they hadn’t even written the script yet.  Allison made sure everyone connected to the show knew she was interested.  She used her phone to film herself singing the songs and sent it to producers.  When interviewers asked  about roles she wanted to play, she strongly hinted at Peter Pan.  It worked!

NBC and YMI have produced teaching materials to accompany the show.  Print out a full-color poster to promote the event.  Give the students copies of the synopsis and song list.  (These would be good printed back-to-back and sent home for students to share with their families.)  Simple-but-slick worksheets would make great extra credit activities.  Here’s one with a short quiz and here’s one  with lyrics to “I Won’t Grow Up” and a challenge to write your own verse.  Play the preview and accompanying promotional clips that take you behind the scenes as the cast and crew prepare the show.  There is a commercial after the preview, but after that, the promotional clips play without interruption.

You can buy Peter Pan Live! on Amazon and in stores on December 16th, so you could show it in class before Winter Break.  In the meantime, teach your students about The Sound of Music Live! with that show’s DVD, available on Amazon and in stores.  It’s fun to watch the show live, but it’s also nice to watch it without interruptions.  Plus, the DVD comes with a feature about producing the show.  Students will enjoy seeing the hard work and preparation that go into producing a musical.

Posted in Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 1, 2014

 

FREE online Thanksgiving games for computer lab time

PumpkinPieHere are some FREE online Thanksgiving games for computer lab time!  You and your class can spend a happy hour in the lab playing these games.  Only three days until we’re off for Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Dinner: a logic game.  The challenge is to seat everyone near something they like and away from something they don’t like.  The game is self-correcting.  It won’t let you place a person near a problem.

Turkey Bowl: lob apples and try to hit as many turkeys as you can.

Turkey Run: help the turkey cross the crowded commercial kitchen and make it out alive

Thanksgiving Crossword: play online or on paper.  A fun way to test your  knowledge of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Story: spot the differences.  Carefully study two pictures and spot the differences.  Click on the differences.  You can give yourself more time or ask the game to reveal the remaining differences.

Turkey Puzzle: an online slide puzzle.  Click on the piece you want to move.  Try to build the turkey picture.

Turkey Pardon: an online Thanskgiving hangman game.  Save the turkey by solving the puzzles in time.

Thanksgiving Dinner Decoration: more simulation than game.  Decorate the table for Thanksgiving.  Click when you’re ready to enjoy your virtual feast!

Turkey Hunt: click on the picture to find the hidden turkey.   The turkey hides in a different place for each game.

Gobble’s Tic Tac Toe: Thanksgiving-themed classic

Thanksgiving Dinner Panic: quick!  Can you differentiate between delicious dishes and burnt ones?  Help the teen chefs choose the right food.

Other ClassAntics posts about Thanksgiving:

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

Let Scholastic Help You Teach the First Thanksgiving

FREE Worksheet for the Movie The Mouse on the Mayflower

The Mouse on the Mayflower

 

Posted in Holidays by Corey Green @ Nov 24, 2014

 

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 17, 2014

 

Berenstain Bears: still great for fun & character education

BBearsTeasingMany of today’s kids have little experience with the Berenstain Bears, but once you introduce kids to this lovable family of bears, they’re hooked. 

Berenstain Bears books come in three main types:

  • Easy readers (AR reading level 0.5-2.0; very short books mostly in the “I Can Read!” series. )
  • Picture books (AR reading level 2.5-4.0, 1200-1500 words)
  • Chapter books (AR reading level  3.5-5.0 ; about 7,000-12,000 words or 100 illustrated pages)

My students just love these books, and reading the collection raises the reading level of both individual students and the class as a whole.

My family used to have all the Berenstain Bear books, but we gave them away when my younger brother and sister grew up.  This was before I became a teacher. I had to buy our childhoods back on eBay.  It wasn’t too expensive; I got most books for $1 each or less.  I bought lots of Berenstain Bear picture books and chapter books.  Some of the easy readers were mixed in, but I didn’t seek them out.

I started a Berenstain Bears challenge in my classroom.  I gave the class two weeks for everyone to read 10 points of Berenstain Bears books.  For most kids, this involved 20 picture books.  Some of the higher kids read a mix of picture books and chapter books.  For many third graders, the Berenstain Bears picture books are a stretch.  (This is because many third graders read below the third grade reading level.)  We paired our struggling readers with higher readers for read-aloud sessions.

At the end, we celebrated with a Berenstain Bears teddy bear tea party.  The pictures are adorable, but they’re of other peoples’ kids, so you’ll just have to imagine how cute it was to have a classroom of third graders and their teddy bears.

Berenstain Bears books can be a little didactic, which I think would make them difficult to publish in today’s climate.  Preachy books are out.  However, kids love them.  Berenstain Bears books make it easy to broach a variety of topics.  Here are some sample titles, all available at Amazon.com:

The Berenstain Bears and the Truth
The Berenstain Bears: Kindness Counts
The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers
The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners
The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room
The Berenstain Bears Show Some Respect
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV
The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Chores
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Teasing

Click here to read my post about how AR reading levels are determined.  Then visit ARBookfind, a site that tells you the reading level of books.

Posted in Book Lists,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Nov 10, 2014

 

John Grisham’s series for kids: Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

TheodoreBooneAR level 5.2
AR points 8
Available at Amazon.com

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer is a clever series written by John Grisham.  Theodore is a thirteen-year-old kid lawyer.  Both of his parents are lawyers, and he spends a lot of time hanging around the courtroom.  (Kid Lawyer is the first book, but it also identifies the series.)

Theo enjoys acting as a kid lawyer for his friends.  He helps a pretty girl get her dog out of the pound and advises his friend on how her parents’ divorce is likely to play out.  However, things turn serious when a potential witness in a murder trial comes to Theo for advice.  Now, only Theo knows who the real killer is—but it isn’t clear what he should do about it.  Theo has to protect his witness.

I think that older elementary studnets will enjoy Theodore Boone.  John Grisham keeps the plot churning.  In everyday and school scenes, the book doesn’t always ring true.  (None of the thirteen-year-old boys in Theo’s class care about girls?)  However, the court scenes and legal issues are the center of the book, and they work quite well.

Theodore Boone is a sophisticated series.  It will appear to intellectual students in grades 4 and up.

Books in the  Theodore Boone series, all available at Amazon.com

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

Theodore Boone: The Abduction

Theodore Boone: The Accused

Theodore Boone: The Activist

Once you hook fans, direct them to the Theodore Boone website for activities that coordinate with the books.

Send a summons: submit the necessary information and the site will send a summons to a friend or family member.

Odd laws: peruse some unusual laws around the country.  For example, butter substitutes must not be served to Wisconsin inmates, any person in Ohio who loses their pet tiger must notify authorities within an hour, and no one in Michigan may sell a car on Sunday.

Courtroom 101: learn the basics of a courtroom, from the locations to the people.

 

Posted in Book Lists,Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Nov 3, 2014

 

FREE comprehension worksheet for the movie Felicity: An American Girl Adventure

FelicityCoverTeachers, here is a FREE comprehension worksheet for use with the movie Felicity: an American Girl Adventure.  The worksheet follows the movie, so students can answer the questions as they watch.  The worksheet helps you hold students accountable for following and learning from this high-quality movie.

Click here for the FREE pdf worksheet for the movie

I highly recommend the movie for the elementary school and junior high classroom.  It’s an excellent, family-friendly and unobjectionable introduction to a unit on the American Revolution.  The movie is extremely high quality.  The script is top-notch, nicely melding sequences from the Felicity books into a cohesive story.  The acting is superb.  Felicity is played by Shailene Woodley.  When I saw this movie, I knew she’d be a star.  I wasn’t surprised when she was nominated for an Academy Award a few years later.  Then she scored the lead in the Divergent films.  Academy Award-winner Marcia Gay Harden plays Felicity’s mother.

The movie has surprising depth.  There are strong themes of justice, loyalty and honor.  Students will be very interested in a subplot involving Ben, apprentice to Felicity’s father.  Ben wants to break his apprenticeship and fight with the Patriots.  When he runs away from home, he is pursued by bounty hunters.  Felicity helps Ben understand the importance of keeping one’s word.  Another tense subplot involves Felicity’s friend Elizabeth, whose family is fairly new to the colonies.  Elizabeth’s family are Loyalists, and her father is imprisoned by Patriots.  Felicity and her father help right this grievous wrong.

Death has always been a part of life, but it was a more prominent part of life in Felicity’s time.  The movie doesn’t shy from this topic.  Felicity loses her grandfather and very nearly loses her mother.  Woodley’s scenes here are made me sure this girl would be a star.  She makes you feel Felicity’s grief.

There is plenty of fun in Felicity: an American Girl Adventure.  Felicity tames a horse, botches charm lessons, and banters with her friends.  The movie strikes the perfect balance of action and reflection, excitement and danger, comedy and tragedy.  Your students will love the story, and it will help set up lessons on the American Revolution.  Outdoor scenes were shot in Colonial Williamsburg.  Your students will enjoy the special features, in which the young actresses take you on a tour.

This worksheet helps you justify the 85 minute run time of Felicity: an American Girl Adventure.  Students can answer the questions as the movie plays.  The questions are mostly at a basic comprehension level, so students can quickly jot down answers as they watch.  Theme-based questions are saved for the end.

Click here for the FREE pdf worksheet for the movie

The picture shows the Felicity movie, but I have linked to the four-movie set 4 Film Favorites: American Girl.  The original Felicity movie is quite expensive on Amazon, almost $30.  However, the four-movie set is under $10.  All four movies are excellent, and they each make a great introduction to curricular units on their respective eras:

Felicity Merriman, 1774:  a horse-loving girl caught between Patriot and Loyalist family and friends during the American Revolution

Samantha Parkington, 1904:  an orphan being raised by a wealthy family during the Victorian period

Kit Kittredge, 1934:  faces the hard times of the Great Depression

Molly McIntire, 1944: keeps the home fires burning during World War II

You might enjoy these other ClassAntics posts about American Girl:

American Girls and history class

American Girl Teaching Guides

Fun and Educational Games on the American Girl Website

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Advice Books from American Girl

 

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Oct 27, 2014

 

Jump rope to Best Multiplication Songs EVER!

cdcover200Multiplication x jump rope = best math lesson EVER!  Take your class outside for a fun math review session or make multiplication songs part of the standard recess activities.

My Best Multiplication Songs EVER! are short songs for each times table.  Each song clocks in at 40 seconds or less, often much less.  Rhythmic and fun, they make great multiplication chants for jump rope.  You can send a CD player outside and let kids jump rope to the recordings, or kids can sing songs they have memorized.

Option one: recess fun.  In this case, jumping rope to multiplication songs is an optional activity.  Suggest to your students that it might be fun.

Option two: whole class math activity.  Figure on one jump rope for every 4-6 students.  The whole class can jump rope to the same song at the same time.  Spread out and enjoy!

How to jump rope to multiplication songs:

One or two jumpers per song: have one or two jumpers see if they can jump without mistakes for the whole song.  You can switch jumpers if there’s a mistake, or give each jumper a good 30 seconds of practice (length of a song) no matter how many mistakes he/she makes.

Jump rope like London Bridge is Falling Down: in a group of 4-6 students, you should have 2-4 jumpers.  They can practice “jumping in” during each song.  Students take turns “jumping in” and doing one or two hops, they “jumping out” and letting someone else try. An accomplished group will be doing the jump rope equivalent of London Bridge is Falling Down.

Freestyle: let your jump rope groups do their own thing.  They can jump rope however they choose, so long as everyone gets a chance to jump and turn the rope.  Maybe you’ll find a group that can Double Dutch!

Individual jump rope: maybe the PE teacher can lend you a class set of jump ropes.  Then everyone can jump to each song.  Your class will have a great time, but tire out quickly.

Your class can go through the whole album or practice certain songs over and over.  It depends if your goal is general multiplication review, or if you’re trying to practice one or two times tables.

The one rule: if you’re not jumping, you must sing the songs!

Below is a preview of Best Multiplication Songs EVER! I hope you enjoy it.

Other posts about multiplication:

Teaching Multiplication Tables with Songs

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! wins Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice Award

Beat Summer Math Slide: Five tips for Multiplication

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!

Sing Multiplication Songs During Transitions

Best Multiplication Songs EVER! on Amazon

 

Posted in Academics,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Oct 20, 2014

 

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 @ Oct 13, 2014

 

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 6, 2014

 

Halloween Math Worksheets

Halloween might be fun, but it’s still a school day.  Math is still important.  However, there’s no reason you can’t have Jack-o’-Lanterns, ghosts, ravens and black cats on your worksheets.  Here are some of my favorite FREE Halloween math worksheets.

Math-drills.com has a huge Halloween math section.  You can choose any activity that fits your currcilum.  Some examplres are counting, patterns, basic facts, and geometry.  Each worksheet has multiple versions.  Distribute a variety and get a Halloween math party going!  (Just an idea.)

Classroom Jr. has Halloween worksheets for every skill level.  Your students might enjoy the Halloween Sudoku . You can also find printables for puzzles, Mad Libs, story starters, and more.

Click here for five spooky graphing worksheets from math-aids.com.  It’s a high-quality site that I strongly recommend for supplementing your math lessons.

Another great source, math-drills.com, has many Halloween graphing worksheets.  Jack-o’-LanternBatWitch HatCatOwlSpiderCandyGhost

TeacherVision.com has excellent math resources.  You can try a few for free.  After that, it pushes you to join.  You can try a 7-day membership.

Wilma Witch’s Party is an excellent word problem worksheet from teachervision.com.  Help Wilma Witch solve problems related to her party.  Examples include converting a recipe to serve 25 rather than 10 and using ratios to determine how many witches will wear each mask.

The Tiny Things Scavenger Hunt challenges students to measure small things in both standard and metric units.  The winner is the student who correctly measures the smallest things.

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.

Write spooky Halloween stories using a sensory word bank

Posted in Academics,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Sep 29, 2014

 

Book review and teaching resources: George Washington’s Spy by Elvira Woodruff

GWSpyAR reading level 4.7
AR points 6
Available at Amazon.com

George Washington’s Spy is the sequel to Elvira Woodruff’s George Washington’s Socks.   In both books, children from Nebraska time-travel to the American Revolution, where they encounter the harsh realities of war and hobnob with famous figures.  Click here for my FREE teaching guide/comprehension questions for George Washington’s Socks.  I highly recommend that novel as a classroom literature study.

George Washington’s Spy succeeds as a sequel.  It pushes the envelope while giving us more of what we enjoyed in the first book.  In this story, the five original characters, a boys’ adventure club and one boy’s little sister, are joined by two eleven-year-old girls.  All the kids time travel to Boston in 1776.  The children are quickly separated.  The boys end up with Patriots, and the protagonist embarks on the titular spy mission.  The girls are taken in by Loyalists.  The characters’ stories intersect as the spy mission becomes deeply entwined with the Loyalists’ household.

Compared to George Washington’s Socks, this story is fairly gritty.  In George Washington’s Socks, the characters encounter tough situations, most notably the death of a young soldier.  George Washington’s Spy takes it up  several notches, which I think puts it firmly in independent-reading territory.  The kids encounter a public flogging, death by tar and feather, medicinal bleeding, and near-death by bayonet.  Believe it or not, all this occurs within a relatively upbeat story, and none of it is described in the kind of colorful detail you would encounter in a novel for adults.  Nevertheless, I think that reading this book aloud or assigning it to the whole class could lead to parent complaints and upset students.

Teaching resources: Click here for Elvira Woodruff’s teaching guide for George Washington’s Spy.  It includes comprehension questions, ideas for class activities recipes, and more.  You could use many of the ideas in a teaching unit for George Washington’s Socks.  The sequel would make a good extension activity for children who want to delve more deeply into the American Revolution.

Posted in Academics,Book Reviews,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Sep 22, 2014

 

Run a successful recess—Part 2

PlayingBallSad but true: many of today’s kids don’t know how to play outside.  Many kids aren’t given free rein to play outside in a neighborhood, and many others choose to spend most of their time indoors.  Consequently, they haven’t developed the fun-at-recess skill set.

Part Two: Teach kids how to play

As a teacher, you can help your students learn to have fun at recess.  This will help them get the most out of their outside time.  Ideally, they will enjoy the brisk exercise and time to make friends and develop social skills.

Tips for helping kids have fun at recess

Before recess time, suggest activities.  For example, find out who wants to swing, play tetherball, catch, four square, tag*, etc.   Buddy up kids so that everyone has a plan for fun.   As with many things in life, you get more out of it if you go in with a plan.

Teach kids how to have fun: go outside with the kids and teach them how to play four square.  Many of today’s kids don’t know.  Teach them how to jump rope and recite some common rhymes.  Play a few rounds of tetherball, demonstrating how much faster the game goes if no one is allowed to stop the ball or touch the rope.  You could arrange with other teachers in your grade level to take turns giving these lessons.  If everyone does it one day a week for a couple weeks, your students will become experts in fun.

Ask for parent volunteers: parents might love to drop by the school and teach kids how to have fun.  You could even make it an event and arrange a special one-hour fun lesson on a Friday afternoon.  Parents could talk to the class first, then go outside and teach fun.  You could ha have kids rotate through stations so they discover new games.  Sounds like a great party!

Ask older students to help: this would work particularly well if you teach kids how to have fun at recess every year.  The first year would be tough, but after that you’d have a group of alumni who can tutor kids on fun.

Look for tutors in your class: some students might already know certain games and would enjoy teaching them.  This can be a great way to help kids make friends and step outside their usual social circles.

Have a happy recess!

Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Sep 15, 2014

 

Run a successful recess—Part 1

PlayingBall

There’s more to recess than just sending kids outside to play.  It takes effort and planning to make recess a successful active and social time.  Here are some tips to help your class get the most out of recess.

Part One: Gather recess equipment

Play areas like swings and jungle gyms are nice, but they generally aren’t designed for the numbers of students in a given recess.  Kids need other activities.  They need play equipment.

Does your school have an adequate supply of balls, jump ropes, etc?  Sometimes these supplies are made available to students only at lunch recess, leaving a grade level recess with no supplies.  Often these supplies are in a state of disrepair.

There are different ways to solve the problem of recess equipment:

  • During my first year, a retired teacher and principal subbed for our class.  He noticed that we did not have recess equipment.  A few days later, he brought us a wonderful present: enough balls, jump ropes, and other toys for our whole class.  Thank you, Mr. Langdon!
  • I taught third grade with a close-knit team of teachers.  We each received a budget for the year, which we ordinarily used for classroom and office supplies.  One year, we realized that PE equipment was availed in the district catalog.  We each contributed some of our class’s budget and purchased enough recess equipment for over one hundred kids.  We kept it in a large garbage can in our hallway.  It was prominently labeled “Third Grade Recess” to keep other grades from poaching it or custodians from dumping it.
  • Class toy drive: Ask the kids to bring in recess equipment.  Some items will be donations; others will remain one child’s property, which is just fine.  Prominently label everything, and label it again later in the year after the labels wear off.
  • Ask the PTA or parents for contributions: maybe the PTA can give you money you can use at the district’s rate for equipment, or money to buy equipment on the regular market.  Parents might donate money or equipment.
  • If nothing else, get tennis balls.  Lots and lots of tennis balls.  Used tennis balls are fine, unless they have been used by a dog.

I hope that your recess equipment drive yields some fun toys for your students.   I find that if you tell the kids about the effort that went into obtaining the toys and how much they cost, the students will take much better care of the equipment.  This goes double for equipment that they helped to procure.

Have a happy recess!

Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Sep 8, 2014