Tips for Helping Kids Enjoy Museums and Historical Locations: Part Four—Practical tips and suggestions

MixedUpFilesYes, it’s possible to teach preschool and elementary school-age children to enjoy museums.  Apply these tips and watch students enjoy art museums, historical museums, historic houses and other historic locations! These tips work well for parents and teachers.

  1. Think about your purse or bag. Some museums won’t let you carry a large bag.  A diaper bag or Mom backpack won’t cut it.  Think about how you’ll carry your wallet and keys.  Maybe you want a small purse that’s easy to carry.  Also, bring some quarters for the locker.  Many museums’ lockers are free these days, but not all.  It’s good to be prepared.
  2. Remember that children have short attention spans.  A teacher’s rule of thumb: a child can focus intently for the same number of minutes as his age in years.  Of course, if you can truly engage the child, he will focus for much longer.  Just keep this in mind for those times when you want to linger over an exhibit, but your child is done quickly.  That’s how kids are.
  3. Hydrate!   Bathroom!  These two go hand-in-hand.  When you feel your energy lag at the museum, it’s time to hydrate.  A nice big glass (or bottle) of water will restore you pretty quickly.  Then hit the bathrooms—or plan to go soon—because you don’t want bathroom emergencies.  I recommend you locate the bathrooms when you first enter the museum so you’re ready for a crisis.
  4. Eat something. Hungry kids are cranky kids.  Eat something filling before you go, and find a snack while you’re there.  Musuem cafes often have tasty offerings.  Some cafes are on the expensive side, but they often have reasonably priced offerings for kids.  If the café isn’t in your budget, bring a snack from home.  Good Old Raisins and Peanuts (GORP) is an easy snack to bring.  Add some M&M’s if you’re feeling generous.  That plus water from the water fountain will get you pretty far.
  5. Take breaks.  Many museums have beautiful grounds or a nice patio.  Take breaks every so often and let the kids run around.  Grab a snack from the café or head to the car to enjoy a brown-bag snack.  In a pinch, get kids away from the exhibits and do a few yoga stretches or simple exercises.
  6. When all else fails, play I Spy. A game of I Spy can keep a child going even if she is not particularly interested in the exhibits.  Alternatively, I Spy might help your child focus on the details.  Sit on the bench in the middle of the gallery.  Ahhh…that feels good!  Now, play I Spy.  Challenge your child (or students) to find the green this or that, an unexpected symbol, an artifact, etc.

 

Tips for Helping Kids Enjoy Museums and Historical Locations: Part Three—Learn all you can

NightAtTheMuseum2Yes, it’s possible to teach preschool and elementary school-age children to enjoy museums.  Apply these tips and watch students enjoy art museums, historical museums, historic houses and other historic locations! These tips work well for parents and teachers.

  1. Connect the past to the present.  Ask thought-provoking questions.  How do the activities in the painting/exhibit remind you of modern life?  How do the artifacts, tools, and daily-life objects compare to now?  Compare and contrast.  Think about whether the people in the paintings look like someone you know.  You might see some familiar faces!
  2. Start a collection.  Give your child a purpose in attending the museum: adding to a collection.  The collection could be postcards with pictures or reprints of art, magnets, scrapbook pages, facts, whatever.  Kids love to collect, and they love to learn more about their collections.
  3. Make a museum-movie connection.  Watch movies with fun museum scenes or a connection to the historical location.  Some of my favorites are Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off features iconic scenes from The Art Institute of Chicago.  Your older kids will love it.  Heist movies are fun, too.  Edgy parents might let their kids think about how a heist might go down at the museum—or how they could prevent one.  Historical fiction movies pair well with historical visits.  For example, watch Felicity – An American Girl Adventure if you’re visiting Colonial Williamsburg.  Parts of the movie were filmed there, and the plot takes place in Williamsburg.
  4. Make a museum-book connection.  Before or after your visit, hit the library, Internet, bookstore, whatever!  Look for books set in museums, like From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler or the delightful  Katie’s Picture Showand other picture books about Katie, a girl who can step into paintings. Another idea: read books set in the time of paintings or exhibits you saw.  Your child might develop an interest in a certain location or time period.  Encourage that!
  5. Build a frame of reference.  Many people say, “I know what I like,” but the truth is that we like what we know.  Often kids don’t like museums because they don’t have a clue what they’re seeing.  No clue, no appreciation. Many museum and historical exhibits go over a child’s head unless you build a frame of reference. Here’s a fun, easy technique that educators call K-W-L. (Knows, Wonders or Wants to know, Learned)
      • Find out what your child already knows about the location or topic.  You might be surprised at what your child already knows—or you might uncover misconceptions.
      • Make a list (or just discuss) what your child wonders about the topic.  What does she want to learn?  You can offer some knowledge here, but don’t spill everything, because…
      • After the visit, you will list (or discuss) what your child learned.  Bonus points if you can turn a discussion on what you learned into a discussion about what you now wonder.  After all, learning makes us realize how much there is to know, and how much we don’t know.  Ideally, you can entice your child (or students) to do some research (or just visit the museum website) after the visit.

 


 

Tips for Helping Kids Enjoy Museums and Historical Locations: Part Two–Structure your visit

NightAtTheMuseumYes, it’s possible to teach preschool and elementary school-age children to enjoy museums.  Apply these tips and watch students enjoy art museums, historical museums, historic houses and other historic locations! These tips work well for parents and teachers.

  1. Bring supplies so kids can draw what they see.  (Bonus points if you convince a child to take notes!)  Even preschool children will enjoy sitting down right in the middle of a gallery to draw what they see.  This technique works especially well at art museums, but also enhances visits to historical museums and locations.  Once, at a museum, I chatted with a mom who was calmly enjoying the gallery while her preschool-age children sat silently on the floor and sketched the artwork.  She told me that she created a special bag of art supplies—that the kids are ONLY allowed to use at museums.  She gave each of her preschool-age children their own box of crayons.  (VERY important!)  Each child had her own sketchbook.  You can create a kit like this for less than five dollars, using basic crayons and a spiral notebook.
  2. Take a docent-led tour.  Docents work long and hard to learn about the collection, and they love to share.  Join a docent tour.  Most docents will tailor the tour to the guests, so a tour with well-behaved children will feature highlights that appeal to them.  Docents give fascinating talks, and you might be pleasantly surprised by how much your child enjoys the experience.  Encourage your children to behave, perhaps by arranging to take a break right afterward.
  3. Take the audio tour.  Many museums have audio tours.  Some museums provide their own audio equipment; others provide info you can access through your phone.  Some museums offer special kids audio tours, curated for kids’ tastes.  Imagine your child, silently absorbed in an audio tour.  Ahhh, museum bliss!
  4. Encourage children to read the exhibit descriptions.  I’m talking about the plaques and cards many museums use to describe pieces.  Older children can read these on their own. Younger children will enjoy highlights.  Reading the exhibit descriptors GREATLY enhances the educational value of any exhibit.
  5. Use the museum’s resources.  Many museums have special website sections for kids, coloring pages, kids’ tours, activity rooms, orientation films, kids’ audio tours, and kid-friendly plaques describing exhibits.  Take advantage of these resources!
  6. Don’t miss the gift shop.  Museum gift shops have cool merchandise you can’t find elsewhere.  They can be pricey, but there are also bargains.  Postcards of famous artwork are some of the cheapest souvenirs.  Make a big deal out of letting each kid pick 4 or 5 (a dollar’s worth.)  They’ll have fun evaluating the choices and deciding on their favorites.

 


 

Tips for Helping Kids Enjoy Museums and Historical Locations: Part One–Lay the Groundwork

Katie'sPictureShowYes, it’s possible to teach preschool and elementary school-age children to enjoy museums.  Apply these tips and watch kids enjoy art museums, historical museums, historic houses and other historic locations! These tips work well for parents and teachers.

  1. Go when it’s free.  Many museums have free times.  Some museums are always free, like the Smithsonian, but others are free for the last hour of the day, or Wednesdays after 3:00 pm, or something.  Also, power companies and major corporations often sponsor free days.  Another option: talk to your school and the local library.  They sometimes have free tickets and passes to local attractions.
  2. Plan your visit.  Begin the planning at home by using the website or at the museum by visiting the information booth.  Ask staff at the information booth for advice on kid-friendly exhibits.  Staff members love to see kids enjoy museums, and they will be happy to help.  Study the museum map and make decisions.  While you’re at it, teach some map-reading skills.  Kids only mildly interested in the actual museum might be very interested in planning your visit and reading the map.  The map and orientation materials might pique your child’s interest in the exhibits—that’s what those materials are designed to do.
  3. Dress for the occasion. I recommend nice clothes and comfortable shoes.  When you and your kids dress for the museum, you convey that the visit is a special occasion.  Well-dressed kids tend to be well-behaved kids—children really will step it up if they’re all decked out.  Kids who love to dress up will be thrilled to have a chance to wear their favorite duds.  Seriously, though, stick to comfortable shoes.  They’re essential!
  4. Talk to your child’s teacher.  You might score some extra credit, a fun project to do during or after the museum visit—who knows?  The teacher might ask your child to tell the class about the visit afterwards, just to raise the museum’s profile and entice other students to learn more.  Your child’s teacher might want to arrange a field trip and will ask for your opinion of the museum.  A side benefit: your child’s teacher will know that you do cultural activities with your family.  Can’t hurt.
  5. Reward and bribe.  Whatever works!  Set standards and goals for good behavior, and reward your child for reaching them.  This doesn’t have to be a setup wherein your child associates museum visits with drudgery.  Set a goal to learn ten things, draw ten things (nicely), take notes, teach someone about what you learned, help a siblings behave and learn—whatever you value.  The reward could be a snack, a souvenir, you name it.

 


 

Beat Summer Math Slide: Rounding Numbers

We all know that visits to the library are an easy way to combat summer reading slide.  Keeping math skills from sliding requires a little more effort.  I’ve taught many grades, and I can say that one skill most students haven’t mastered is ROUNDING!

Every grade I’ve taught has tackled rounding early in the school year.  I think it’s supposed to be quick-and-easy review.  Well, it isn’t.  It’s a math grade killer.

If a National Board Certified Teacher is constantly surprised that kids struggle with rounding, how is a parent supposed to know?  I really don’t see how you would, so this blog post serves as a public service announcement for Rounding Awareness.

Even now, having developed many ways to teach this skill, I still don’t understand what’s so hard about rounding.  I mean, take 53.  Is it closer to 50 or 60?  Closer to 50.  How hard is that?  Very, for most students.  Don’t get them started on rounding 50,453 to the nearest tens place.  They just fall apart.

As a parent, it really helps if you’re mindful of teaching rounding in daily life.

Examples:

  1. This gum costs 63 cents.  Is that closer to 60 or 70 cents?
  2. I want to buy 5 drinks at the fast food restaurant.  They’re each $1.19.  Is $1.19 closer to $1 or $2?  About how much will I spend?
  3. This recipe calls for 1 2/3 cup of flour.  Is that closer to one cup or two?
  4. Look, this movie made $83 million at the box office over the weekend.  What a blockbuster!  Is 83 closer to 80 or 90?
  5. This meal costs $5.85.  Is $5.85 closer to $5 or $6?

A few rounding worksheets would be really helpful.  I recommend you print them from the rounding section on Dad’s Worksheets and/or Math-aids.com.  The worksheets help with something incidental real-world rounding doesn’t address: taking the same number and rounding it to the nearest tens, hundreds or thousands place.  For that skill, it really helps kids to see the number in black and white.

Your child can practice rounding on computer games.  Click here for a site with some fun games.  They are all good; my students love Rounding Sharks.

A visual technique for teaching rounding: The Rounding Hill.  As an example of rounding to the nearest 10,  this diagram shows why you round up when the ones digit is 5 or more.  Many kids think that 5 could go either way because they mistakenly believe 5 is exactly in the middle.  The Rounding Hill shows that there is no middle number, as there are 5 numbers on either side of the hill.  The Rounding Hill really helps most students, and I often see them drawing this diagram on their math tests to serve as a reference point.

Posted in Math,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Jul 24, 2017

 

Beat Summer Math Slide: Estimating

Students experience summer slide in every subject.  Here are some fun tips for helping your child with a difficult topic: estimating.

By estimating, I mean two different skills.  One is estimating measurements.  The other is using rounding to estimate an answer to a problem.  (526 +375 = about 900 if you round to the nearest hundred)

Fun with a tape measure*:  Simply give your kids a tape measure and challenge them to hone their estimating skills.  About how long is your kitchen?  How far to the sidewalk?  Is the length of your driveway closer to 10, 20 or 100 feet?  Should you measure the height of your cat in inches, feet or yards?  This is a pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon.

If your kids and their friends are enterprising, they could each make up their own challenges, writing little worksheets with measuring tasks.  It’s like playing school, but more active.

Fun with a scale: This is a lot like Fun with a Tape Measure, but with measurements of weight.  Your child can develop a sense of what things weigh.  How much does cereal weigh?  Dishes?  The family dog?  A book?

Shopping estimation: Running errands really does provide lots of ways to incorporate math.  Simply ask little word problems as you go.  If I buy this item for $2.95 and that item for $4.25, about how much will I spend?  Once your child is good at answering this type of question, challenge her to figure the rough amount of change from a nice round figure like $10.

*Fun with whatever—a tongue-in-cheek way to make any task fun.  Sort of.  It helps!   Read the blog post for classroom examples.

Posted in Academics,Math,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Jul 17, 2017

 

Five tips for summer library “shopping”

Going to the library is like shopping without the buyer’s remorse. Wait, scratch that. The library can still offer buyer’s remorse if you check out too many books, the wrong books, or just plain lose books.

Here are my tips on organizing your library haul.

  1. Keep a dedicated library basket (or bag) in the car and at home. The basket at home is so you don’t lose books. When you’re not reading the book, it goes in the basket. When you’re checking out dozens of books at a time, this becomes important. Keep a basket in the car for already-read books so you can drop them off whenever you’re nearby. If you wait for a scheduled trip to the library, you might end up with overdue books.
  2. Teach your child how to select books. Librarians and teachers try, but it might mean more coming from you. Kids pick the strangest books. My third graders will show me their latest library picks and I’ll say things like,“Have you read the first five books in this series that is two grade levels above yours? No? So why did you pick this?” “This book is about the Russian Revolution. Do you have any interest in that? Then why did you pick it?”“This is a tender coming-of-age story about a girl and her horse. You like Transformers and anything about war. Why did you pick it?”Teach your child to really think about whether there is anything he can relate to—the cover, the title, the author, or the first page. If not, pass. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s for you.
  3. Use the five-finger method. At school, books are labeled with their AR levels. Not true at most public libraries. You can check on ARBookfind.com, or you can just use the five finger method. Encourage your child to read the first page aloud and hold up a finger for each word that’s too hard. If your child finds five too-hard words on the first page, the book is too hard. Put it down.
  4. Ask the librarian for advice. Librarians read more than anyone and they know what kids like. You can trust them to help you choose. Just make sure your child understands that while he doesn’t have to read everything the librarian recommends, he has to read enough so as not to annoy her and make her not want to help him next time.
  5. Feel free to take and check out the display books. Librarians set books out on display, like at a bookstore. You’re allowed to borrow these books. The librarian can always find something new to set out. (Hint: for picture books, sometimes it’s random. I’ve found some cool books by reading the random picture books librarians set out.)
Posted in Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Jul 18, 2016

 

Stop looking–I found the best FREE printable cursive program

girlanddteacherMany students don’t learn to write cursive, which means they can’t read it, either.  If we keep going this way, we’ll have a generation that can’t read our founding documents.  Luckily, there are many great FREE online programs to teach kids this valuable skill.  One in particular is very, very good.

PrintableCursive.com is my favorite site for teaching cursive.  My favorite part is First Year Cursive.  This presents three leveled packets for teaching all cursive letters.  Each page is lovely, with beautiful handwriting and a nice word/picture based on letters the student can write.

Printable Cursive offers primers in three cursive fonts: ABeka, D’Nealian, and Zaner-Bloser.  I learned D’Nealian as a second grader, but prefer Zaner-Bloser because the Q looks like a Q.  None of that silly loopy 2 stuff for Zaner-Bloser.

Click HERE for 3 levels of first-year cursive in each of 3 fonts.

Click HERE for intermediate cursive: practice writing cursive while learning about the world.  (Coutnries of South America, poisonous snakes of the world, and other interesting topics.)

Click HERE for advanced cursive: more writing, more advanced topics, more fun!

Enhance your cursive writing unit by reading Beverly Cleary’s Muggie Maggie, about a girl who refuses to learn cursive and winds up in a silly predicament.  Her teachers motivate Maggie by making her a messenger.  She carries notes to vairous teachesr.  The notes are written in cursive, and Maggie can’t read them.  But she can tell that they all contain her name…

Click HERE for my post about Muggie Maggie.

Posted in Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Nov 2, 2015

 

Teach students how to wear a bike helmet properly

As a teacher, we see a lot of kids with bike helmets.  It’s scary to see how many kids wear their bike helmets improperly.  The helmet can’t do its job if the fit isn’t right.

Most of the time, an ill-fitting helmet is either too big or worn too loose.  As a teacher, you can’t do much about the too-big helmet aside from tell parents.  However, you can help kids adjust the fit right away.

Bike helmet fit comes down to three things:

Eyes: the helmet should sit an inch above the eyes (use two fingers to measure that about an inch of forehead shows)

Ears: the straps should form a Y around the ears and come just under the ears

Mouth: the child should be able to fully open her mouth.  If not, the strap is too tight.

Make sure kids tighten the strap enough.  It’s scary to see a loose strap that lets the helmet come right off the head at the slightest impact or nudge.  Below is a simple video, less than a minute long, that demonstrates these concepts.

Posted in Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Oct 5, 2015

 

How to spot signs of vision trouble in children

reading150Anyone with glasses can tell you about that moment of clarity: seeing the leaves on the trees.  Help your students experience that thrill.  Watch for signs of vision trouble in students.

Of course, the classic sign of vision trouble is when the child can’t see the board.  However, many students won’t admit that they have trouble, so parents and teachers have to watch for the signals that indicate vision trouble.  Remember, vision trouble can go beyond nearsightedness to include lazy eye, crossed eyes, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

If you spot the following behaviors, notify the school nurse and call the parent.  (I call home because some students won’t give parents the nurse’s note.)  When speaking to parents, remember to describe the behavior you see and avoid anything that sounds like a diagnosis.

Correcting a vision problem can lead to quick and remarkable results.  I have seen students jump an entire grade level in reading fluency and comprehension shortly after getting glasses.

Signs of vision trouble in children:

  • rubbing eyes
  • squinting
  • tilting books to read them
  • leaning close to books
  • turning the head to look at objects that should be in peripheral vision
  • wandering eyes
  • headaches
  • covering one eye
  • avoiding reading or seeking out books with large print (not related to reading level)
Posted in Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Aug 24, 2015

 

Tips for using free online speed reading programs

TeacherStudentComputingFREE online speed reading software helps all of your students become more efficient readers–but you need materials and a plan to make the most of this resource.  Here are some tips from a National Board Certified teacher and speed reader.

For a full lesson on speed reading, read my blog entry on the topic.  Here are the Cliffs Notes:

  1.  Speed read by tracking with your finger.  Yes, just like you did back in first grade.  Build up speed by sliding your finger more quickly under the text and challenging your eyes and mind to keep up.  (The online version uses a computer program to flash the words on the screen.)
  2. This helps because it focuses your eye.  Without imposing focus, your eyes will just wander over the page, re-reading, skipping along, and generally wasting time.
  3. It also teaches you not to read in your head.  You know how little kids read aloud?  Well, us older folks enunciate the words in our heads.  As you learn to track your finger faster and read faster, you will read much faster than you could talk.  Once you break the reading-aloud-in-your-head habit, you read much faster.

My favorite FREE online speed reading program is Spreeder.  This tool is part of the terrific online speed reading course 7SpeedReading, which offers courses for individual users and educational institutions.  Request a free trial here–just click on EDU Edition on the menu bar.

Spreeder helps your students train their eyes and brain to work together more efficiently.  You can choose any text to practice with, although I recommend using their sample text first, because it explains the process.  In a nutshell, you have students adjust the program to flash words at them very quickly–about double their resting reading rate.  Students switch back and forth between fast and comfortable, building their ability to speed read in the process.

Spreeder is no fun unless you have ready access to interesting passages.  I found a great source: Mental Floss.  The website features is an offshoot of the magazine that helps clever people “feel smart again.”  The site includes articles, lists and features about everything under the sun.  Here is just a sample of what you can learn on MentalFloss.com:

15 Reasons Mister Rogers Was the Best Neighbor Ever

What Do the Ms on M&M’s Stand For, and How Do They Get Them on There?

How a Game of Monopoly Put 15 Criminals Behind Bars

WWI Centennial: Germans Repulsed at Givenchy

Where is Old Zealand?

Tip: tell your students not to click on post links from around the web, because those are much lower quality than Mental Floss.

Happy speed reading!


 

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

 

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

 

Secret sponsor programs let families help needy kids

raisinghandsDoes your school have a secret sponsor program?  If not, consider talking with the principal and parent organization president about starting one.  A secret sponsor program lets more affluent families anonymously sponsor students.

I got the idea from a program at my younger brother and sister’s school, Schwarzkopf Elementary in Tampa, Florida—home of the Schwarzkopf Bears.  It was a public school.  Yes, it really was named after General Norman Schwarzkopf, who lived nearby.  Every year, he bought ice cream for all his Bears.

The program was called Secret Bear.  At the beginning of the school year, the school sent home fliers about the Secret Bear program.  The school had figured a cost for a year’s worth of field trip admission, a Schwarzkopf tee shirt, and other extras that no one wants to see a student miss.  Many families sponsored multiple Bears. The parents and children never knew who was their Secret Bear.

A secret sponsor program such as this does not need to be cost-prohibitive.  For example, the contribution toward a school tee shirt only needs to cover the cost, not the purchase price at school retail.  The cost of a field trip can be covered partly by Secret Bear and partly by spreading it among all the students who will attend.

Click here for my post remembering General Schwarzkopf and his work for children.  In addition to supporting his school, General Schwarzkopf founded Camp Boggy Creek with actor Paul Newman.  The camp serves children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

I hope that your school enjoys setting up a Secret Sponsor program.

Posted in Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Aug 11, 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.