History of the Easter Parade (with clips from Fred & Judy’s star performance)

Watch the clip of Judy Garland and Fred Astaire performing Irving Berlin’s classic song “Easter Parade” and teach your students a little history!

Easter Parade is a classic MGM musical. It is a Pygmalion story about a famous dancer who is abandoned by his dancing partner and bets that he can turn anyone into a better partner than she was. His random protégé is Judy Garland, so you know that the singing-and-dancing act will (eventually) turn out well. Of course, Fred and Judy’s characters fall in love, and the finale finds the happy couple walking in New York’s Easter Parade.

Teaching Tips: New York’s Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue was an important institution for decades. It began as in impromptu event in the 1870s as couples showed off their finery while admiring the Easter flowers at the sanctuaries of the city’s most beautiful churches. Over the years, the floral displays and elegant dress grew more and more ornate. By 1947, the Easter Parade drew over a million people.

Your students will be interested to learn that both Easter parades and new clothes for the holiday have a long tradition. Easter processions have been a part of Christianity since the first Holy Week., and Christians in Eastern Europe would gather together and walk in a solemn procession to church on Easter Sunday. The clergy have long worn special garb for Easter, and in Tudor times, superstitious parishioners believed that if you didn’t wear new clothes for Easter, moths would eat your old threads.

When I teach my class about the classic “Easter Parade” song, I never lose sight of a very important lesson: teaching students to analyze just how Judy Garland gives another stellar performance. Not a move, gesture, or vocal intonation is wasted. She is a star for the ages!

*Fun Fact: Sydney Sheldon, author of many novels of suspense, wrote the screenplay for Easter Parade.

**Fun Fact: Irving Berlin first used the tune for “Easter Parade” in a song called “Smile and Show your Dimple.” The song flopped, but he later salvaged the tune and made it into a classic. The stick-with-it lesson, perseverance, is an inspiration for all of us.

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Mar 30, 2012


FREE April Fools Day Worksheet

Here is a FREE April Fools Day worksheet written by a National Board Certified Teacher. Students will build comprehension skills and practice critical thinking as they learn about the origins of April Fools Day.

You can use this worksheet every year, but in 2012 you get a special break: you can have fun teaching about April Fools Day without having to actually suffer through pranks on a school day!

April Fools Day began with a calendar change in 19th century France. King Charles IX moved New Year from April 1st to January 1st. News spread slowly through the countryside, so some folks celebrated on the wrong day for years before they learned of the change. Others refused to change and became known as April Fools. It became a tradition to play pranks on them.

Click here for the FREE worksheet.

More April Fools worksheets are available from Classroom Jr. Click here to access them. There is a reading comprehension activity, a writing activity, and a word search. Build reading fluency with these fun and ready-to-print April Fools poems.

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ Mar 26, 2012


Online Resources to Teach Money Math

Teachers know it: money math is difficult for many students.  This has been true a long time—after all, money math relies on decimals, fractions, and a firm grasp of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  I think today’s kids have an even harder time with it because so many transactions now are done with credit or debit cards, so there are fewer opportunities to touch and count money.

Here are some online games to help your students with money math.

Counting coins

This game is perfect for figuring out which coins you need to make a certain amount. I wish I’d found it during our money unit this year. The kids would have loved it!

The next level up is to look at a group of coins and figure out how much money it is. One of my students had trouble with that skill, and this game might help.

Making Change

I think making change is the ultimate money-unit challenge for students.  Kids can get through a standardized test by just subtracting, but they are so proud when they master the skill of making change by counting up.

This making change game lets you click on pictures of coins to make change. It’s fun!

This one is also good. It has more of a fun, cartoon kind of look. Unfortunately, that also makes the coins a little harder to recognize.

Here’s another making change game.

Money Math Seatwork

Math-Aids.com is my favorite site for money math worksheets.

Dad’s Worksheets has a nice section on Money Word Problems.

Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Mar 22, 2012


National Center for Educational Statistics

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP test, is commonly called “The Nation’s Report Card.”  The results of this test are commonly cited in news articles comparing states, noting areas of weakness in our students, and analyzing trends.

I think anyone with an interest in education would enjoy perusing the state profiles at the National Center for Educational Statistics.  The data at your fingertips is just amazing.  You can highlight your state and immediately see NAEP data for both 4th and 8th grades for the last ten years.  It’s interesting to see how many students in your state scored at or above basic, proficient, and advanced.

The real fun comes when you compare the states.  The website makes it so easy.  Say you want to compare the 4th grade reading data in your state.  Go down to the chart of scores and click on “compare.”  You are taken to a screen that looks like this.  Now the states are color coded to indicate which states had a higher average scale score, which states were not significantly different, and which states had a lower average scale score.  You can see the same score data in two graph types: bar and line graphs.

The NAEP website is a good place to find demographic data for your state.  Just scroll down and you’ll see it on the side of the screen: the number of students, teachers, the student-to-teacher ratio, the ethnic breakdown, and more.  Here is an example for New Hampshire.


  • The data can be helpful for the just plain curious.  How does your state really stack up against all others?  Is the situation as dire as politicians would have you believe?
  • The data can help you with papers for advanced degree programs, professional development, or presentations.
  • The charts, graphs, and map-with-comparisons are wonderful examples of data for your class.  I really like how you can see the same data in a table, map, bar graph, or line graph.


Posted in Education Policy and Reform,Math by Corey Green @ Mar 20, 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


FREE Standardized Test Prep Worksheet and $10 off coupon for Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!An occasional series with sample pages from the Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!

My publisher is running a limited-time-coupon for $10 off Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! to help your class prepare for standardized testing.  Use Coupon Code NGUTA5C6 and click here to order.  The offer expires April 15, 2012.

More than just a workbook, Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! is a comprehensive curriculum that makes learning multiplication easy, enjoyable and relevant to real-life situations. Written by a master teacher, it addresses how kids really learn.

> Multiplication facts: scaffolded, comprehensive approach helps kids memorize their facts and cement their learning.

> Word problems (lots of them!) help students see the relevance of multiplication. There are word problems for each times table, level of multiplication, themed word problems, and long-multiplication word problems.

> Standardized testing content boosts students’ confidence and courage as they face the stresses of the standardized testing environment; answers teach strategies for getting it right!

> FUN! Friendly animals guide kids through the lessons. Certificates acknowledge achievements. Real-life word problems show how multiplication helps in sports, movie making and beyond!

The FREE standardized test prep worksheets never expire. This sample is Part 2 of an occasional series with sample pages from the Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!

Tip # 2: Determine what must be in the ones place

This is a really simple trick that lets you quickly eliminate wrong answers. Check just the ones digit of the problem. Multiply quickly in your head, and you will know what the ones digit must be in the correct answer. This trick works when you multiply by 2 or 3 digit numbers (and even bigger numbers) because the when you do your hugs and kisses, you never put any new numbers in the ones place.

Example A: 48 x 3: since 3 x 8 is 24, you know 4 must be in the ones place. Eliminate all answers with a different digit in the ones place.

Example B: 246 x 316: 6 x 6 is 36, so you know 6 will be in the ones place. Eliminate all answers with a different digit in the ones place.

Click here for FREE worksheets about this skill, straight from the Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Math by Corey Green @ Mar 15, 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


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 8, 2012


Learning with the Lorax

Here are some fun ideas for Learning with the Lorax from a National Board Certified Teacher.  

The Lorax, the latest Dr. Seuss movie adaptation, stars Zac Efron and Taylor Swift voicing Ted and Audry.  Kids will demand fan activities for these two popular actors right away, so here are some ways parents and teachers can be really cool.  Don’t tell the kids that these activities also tie in nicely with NEA Read Across America Day!


Lorax Games

> Don’t Whack the Lorax: a game tie-in with the movie
> Ted’s Scooter Dodge: a game tie-in with the movie
> Dodgeberry Blast: a game tie-in with the movie
> Hummingfish & Swomee-Swan Survival: a game tie-in with the movie
The Lorax Quest Game at Seussville: You are in charge of truffula seeds. And truffula seeds are what everyone needs! Gather the truffula seeds from the characters and help the Lorax grow a whole new forest! To reach the game, go to the Seussville Games Page and click “forth” until you come to the Lorax game.

Lorax Worksheets from Random House:

> How Many? A fun counting worksheet—count how many you see in the picture! Your students will need a good working knowledge of The Lorax to complete this worksheet.
> Dear Mother Earth: Write a letter to Mother Earth stating what you will do to help preserve her. The worksheet is basically nice Lorax-themed stationery.
> Lorax Maze:  Help the objects find their way to the recycling bin.

Lorax Writing Contest: Every Inkling Makes a Difference. The contest opens March 2nd. Your students can write an online story describing one creative idea for living sustainably. The grand prize is a $10,000 scholarship. There are 3 prizes in two categories: grades 3-5 and 6-8. Click here for the student printable explaining the contest.

Read The Lorax, Available at Amazon.com

Posted in Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Mar 2, 2012