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 16, 2015


FREE Presidents’ Day computer activity: the 7 hat challenge

WashingtonTeachers, here is a wonderful, FREE computer lab activity for Presidents’ Day!  Your students will learn about the 7 hats a U.S. president wears and details about seven presidents.  This activity is appropriate for grades 3 and up.

This computer game-style activity comes from Scholastic, which of course has an assortment of Presidents’ Day activities.  The 7 Hat Challenge is my favorite by far.

Click here to play the game.  In order to succeed, your students must understand the 7 hats the President wears:

  1. Chief of the Executive Branch
  2. Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces
  3. Head of State
  4. Director of Foreign Policy
  5. Political Party Leader
  6. Guardian of the Economy
  7. Legislative Leader

Students learn about seven U.S. presidents, from Washington to Obama.  Students will decide which hat the president was wearing when he made various decisions.

The game has two levels: Easy and Hard.  Easy is good for third graders–but older students will quickly realize that in the Easy game, each president wears only one hat.  Once the student guesses the hat through either knowledge or trial-and-error, it’s easy to answer the other questions about that president since the answer is the same.  Older students should play the Hard level, which gives many questions about each president and shows the many hats that president wore.

After your class plays the game, you can use a Scholastic 7 Hats worksheet as an assessment. Click here for the worksheet.

I highly recommend that you use the worksheet as an assessment.  Your students will be much more serious during the computer lab activity if they know that they will be quizzed on it later.  The worksheet is formatted just like the program, so it’s a quality assessment of the activity.

Happy Presidents’ Day!

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Feb 9, 2015


FREE Groundhog Day reading comprehension worksheet + Watch the official promo video with your class

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

Teach your students about the history of Groundhog Day using myGroundhog 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 Groundhog Day ideas submitted by teachers.  Show your class the official promo video for Groundhog Day.  Students will enjoy seeing the excitement of visiting Punxsutawney for that day.

Posted in Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 31, 2015


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


Celebrate the Fourth of July with free online games about the American Revolution

statueoflibertyIn the spirit of the Fourth of July, take a moment to play some fun games about the American Revolution.

American Revolution quiz game: Test your knowledge with multiple quizzes about the American Revolution.  The quizzes cover the revolution up to 1789.

TeachingAmericanHistory.org American Revolution tutorial: This is more like a lesson than a game, but you get to click around.  It combines geography with history as students click to learn about various locales important to the American Revolution.

Liberty! The American Revolution: This online quiz/lesson lets you answer and learn.  It coordinates with the PBS series Liberty! The American Revolution.

Mission US: This is a great site with several exciting missions.  Appropos for the Fourth of July is Mission 1: For Crown or Colony?

The Revolutionary Fireworks Frenzy!  This is a pure-fun game that lets you pretend to set off a whole bunch of fireworks in front of a place that looks a lot like Liberty Hall.  That’s it, but it’s pretty fun.

Colonial Williamsburg Interactive: This site lets you play games and do activities that enhance a visit to Colonial Williamsburg.  It’s lots of fun even if a trip to Virginia is not in your future.


Merry Christmas from the USAF Band–Flash Mob at the Smithsonian

Merry Christmas!  I hope you enjoy this flash-mob style performance by the U.S. Air Force Band.  They performed at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.  Both of my parents and both of my grandfathers are Air Force veterans–this is a perfect Christmas celebration at our house!

Posted in Holidays by Corey Green @ Dec 25, 2013


Let Scholastic Help You Teach the First Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingThe First Thanksgiving.  Every year, teachers need a new way to make this subject interesting and fresh.  Sure, we could teach it the same way every year—but that would be boring for us and the kids.  This year, let Scholastic help you get through this short but tough week.

The main site is here.  From there, you can go to resources for your grade level.  There are three choices: PreK-2, 3-5, and 6-8.  Each lesson plan comes with the worksheets you’ll need and can carry you through the short week before Thanksgiving.

Sample activities from Scholastic:

Virtual field trip to Plimoth Plantation (videos of interviews, demonstrations and site visits)

Learn about the voyage on the Mayflower

Learn about Daily Life for Pilgrims and Native Americans

Learn about the Feast

Read Historical Letters

Thanksgiving Reader’s Theater for your class

The historical lessons from Plimoth Planation should provide excellent enrichment for your Thanksgiving lessons.  Still have time?  Try some Thanksgiving Printables to round out your day.  Another good activity is to watch The Mouse on the Mayflower.  Don’t miss my free worksheet that will help you keep your students accountable during the movie.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy the long weekend.

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Nov 15, 2013


Try a Dr. Seuss-Themed Reading Buddies Session on Read Across America Day

NEA’s Read Across America Day coincides with Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  Your students are either the right age for Dr. Seuss—or way too old.  Either way, pair up with another class for a fun Dr. Seuss-themed event.

“Class reading buddies” is a time honored tradition in elementary school.  Typically, a primary class pairs with an intermediate class.  The older kids read aloud to the younger kids.

The two classes can have a great time with a Dr. Seuss-themed session.  Get as many copies of Seuss’s books as you can.  Try the school library, the public library (put BIG labels on these books and keep track of them), and ask families to send in their well-loved Seuss readers.

Pair the kids up however you wish.  There are many options:

  • Randomly
  • By reading level (pair higher-achieving primary readers with higher-achieving intermediate readers)
  • Let the little kids pick their buddy (empowering and interesting—watch them choose someone who looks a lot like themselves)
  • By interest: who wants to read The Cat in the HatOne Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish?

Then start reading!

It’s nice if you have enough computers so kids can take Accelerated Reader (AR) tests.  I would let intermediate kids take the tests, too—assuming they haven’t already in earlier grades.  They should be rewarded with AR points for reading aloud to little kids.

Consider Cat in the Hat themed art activities.  Keep it simple with coloring pages or making bookmarks.  After all, you’ll have up to 60 kids in the room (or split between two rooms.)  Here are templates:

Seussville Printables for Cat in the Hat

PBS Kids Printables

Happy Read Across America Day!

Posted in Accelerated Reader (AR),Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Feb 28, 2013


Mexican Independence Day: September 16

Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16. Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declared war late into the night of September 15, 1810. After ten years of civil war and the death of two rebel leaders, the Spanish government signed the Treaty of Cordoba and the Mexican Empire was formed.

Mexican Independence Day celebration begins at 11:00 pm on September 15th with the ringing of the bells in every city of Mexico. The celebration continues into the day of September 16.

Teach your students about Mexican Independence Day with these resources:

Information and Lesson Plans from National Endowment for the Humanities: this high-quality information will help you teach Mexican Independence Day at any grade level.

Online Comprehension passage and quiz: Project the passage onto the screen and read it as a class, then take the quiz together.

Second Grade Mexican Independence Day Unit from Denver Public Schools: This is a well-written unit with worksheets and activities appropriate for primary grades.

Mr. Donn’s Mexico collection: lots of PowerPoint presentations and lessons for you to use with your class.

Mexico Independence Day Coloring Pages: it’s not substantial or particularly educational, but this fluff can add a little fun to your lesson. It’s a good way to calm down the class at the end of the day after your fiesta.

About.com Mexican Independence Day: some basic information that will help you plan a lesson or party

Learn about the Grito de Dolores: Learn about Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s cry for independence.

¡Viva Mexico!

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Sep 16, 2012


Memorial Day Resources and Worksheets

Here are some FREE worksheets to help you teach your class about Memorial Day.  Students will be interested in learning about the history, which began as Decoration Day to honor fallen Civil War soldiers.

Two reading comprehension sheets will be useful to elementary school teachers: one from an ESOL website that offers an interesting view of the holiday since it was not written for American students.  A worksheet telling a story about a boy whose father is a soldier brings a more personal viewpoint.  Note: during the ceremony, the boy “whispered a prayer to God;” you have to decide if that is okay in your school.  If you want quick word-search, vocabulary, and crossword puzzles, you can find them all here.  The sheets are not particularly educational—just sponge activities, really, but will be popular for the requesting-homework crowd.

The Internet abounds with histories of Memorial Day, many quite long for a teacher who just wants to help students mark the day with something other than a barbeque.  This article from Time is the perfect quick-study resource for you.  The article tells the history of Memorial Day—and the controversy.  Memorial Day began as Decoration Day to honor fallen Civil War soldiers.  The holiday was so closely linked with the Union that the South refused to celebrate.  Only after WWI, when the day was expanded to include all soldiers, did the holiday gain traction nationwide.  Some say that expanding the meaning of Decoration Day to all soldiers also diluted the meaning of the holiday that marked the difference between fighting for slavery and freedom.

Visit MemorialDay.org for information about the holiday, from history of the day to tips on how to observe Memorial Day.

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ May 24, 2012


Georgia O’Keeffe pictures make great Mother’s Day Cards

Teach an art appreciation lesson and make Mother’s Day cards!

“I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.” –Georgia O’Keeffe

Students love to learn about Georgia O’Keeffe’s oversized flower paintings. The bold lines, bright colors and happy subjects speak to children. In my experience, students truly appreciate learning a different way to see the world.

Teachers like to have students imitate famous artists’ styles, and for many students, that is very frustrating. Most of us will never be able to approximate the works of the great artists, and kids know it. Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings feel more accessible to kids.

At first, my students have trouble filling a paper with just one flower. I usually do a few examples, with different types of flower outlines. Once kids see how it’s done, they are raring to go!

For reluctant or self-conscious artists, I draw the giant flower myself and let them color until they build up their confidence. Students who figure out how to draw big flowers like to help their friends.

The giant flowers make great Mother’s Day cards. I hope you and your class enjoy this simple but educational art project!

Cross curricular connection for science: plant growth is a third grade science topic in my district. I like to tie in art by having the kids make Georgia O’Keeffe pictures and gluing little clip-art bees on them. It’s a bee’s-eye view of a flower!

Visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s website for a gallery of her flower pictures. Fun anecdote: I visited the museum with my little brother when he was in third grade. Halfway through our museum visit, my brother said, “Wait. These are the original paintings? The ones Georgia touched?” He was awestruck.

See if your students understand that the paintings at art museums are the originals. You might be able to give them more appreciation of their next art museum visit.

Posted in Holidays,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ May 9, 2012


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 17, 2012


Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day

On Saint Patrick’s Day, we’re all Irish!  Have some fun with your class.

Preparation: get a class shamrock plant.  (Bonus points if you can convince a parent to donate it!)

Ask the kids to save their milk cartons from lunch.  Use them to take home a piece of the class shamrock plant.  Students can repot a piece of the shamrock plant and grow their own at home.  Learn how to grow a shamrock plant at ehow.com

If you are learning about immigration in Social Studies, tie the Irish immigrant experience in with your Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations.  You could talk with your class about how Irish immigrants were treated and compare it to immigration today.  The countries of origin have changed, but in many ways, how people view immigrants remains the same.  Read Eve Bunting’s Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island Story.

Grownups, take this opportunity to read a book by a wonderful Irish writer, Maeve Binchy.  Her books immerse you in Ireland, and you know her characters better than you know your own family.  Tara Road is her magnum opus, and her newer books all feature that Dublin neighborhood.  Every single book by Maeve Binchy is wonderful.  I read them over and over again.

Posted in Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Mar 13, 2012


The Mouse on the Mayflower

Mouse on the Mayflower is a good movie for teaching the classic Thanksgiving story—the kind that’s as much story as history.  As the title suggests, it’s a mouse’s eye view of the experience, from leaving England to the first Thanksgiving.  The movie focuses more on education than entertainment, so students will learn plenty about details like how the pilgrims repaired the Mayflower en route while still enjoying cartoonish fun.

Songs by Tennessee Ernie Ford are sprinkled throughout the movie.  On the whole, they are very good, but watch your kids snicker during the love song!  You might wonder why the pilgrims were singing love songs when the Puritans objected to such frivolity.  Oh, well.

The movie is definitely pro-pilgrim, which makes sense because William the mouse did sail across the Atlantic with them.  Conflict with the Native Americans (Indians in this movie) is presented with the view that there are buffoonish instigators on both sides.  The mice help to bring everyone together, of course.

Enjoy this for what it is—a nice 50 minute movie that effectively dramatizes the Thanksgiving story.  Your students will like it!

Note: this movie is currently not available on DVD, but you can buy it cheap as a used VHS.

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Nov 16, 2011


EARTH DAY, April 22, 2011: A Billion Acts of Green

I am posting a few days before the event, so my teacher-readers have an opportunity to create lesson plans.

The organizing theme of Earth Day, April 22, 2011 is “A Billion Acts of Green,” which solicits personal, organizational and corporate pledges to live and act sustainably.

This campaign calls for people of all nationalities to commit to an act that helps reduce carbon emissions and promotes sustainability. The act can be a simple gesture, such as washing laundry in cold water, or immense, like picking up a million pounds of trash. The goal is to register one billion actions in advance of the Earth Summit in Rio in 2012.

 Earth Day 1970 was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.  After observing political inertia following a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, Senator Nelson proposed a national teach-in on the environment to be observed by every university campus in the U.S.  The result: 20,000,000 people demonstrating for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.  The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Earth Day has been called the largest secular holiday in the world: it is observed in 175 countries and celebrated by more than a half billion people every year.

Why celebrate on April 22nd? April 22 corresponds to spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.  Actually, Senator Nelson selected the day because spring breaks were over and final exams had not begun, so more students were likely to be in class for the teach-ins.

The Earth Day Educators’ Network  has more than 300 standard-based lessons, school greening tips and grants for teachers.  An Earth Day 2011 Organizer’s Guide is available.

Posted in Academics,Holidays by Corey Green @ Apr 21, 2011