Name and Number Song

No-name papers are such a pain!  Sing this little song every time you hand out a worksheet or test to remind students to write their name and number.  Students memorize this song the first time they hear it, and it really is a good reminder.  An additional bonus: when kids are singing when you pass out papers, they’re not chatting.

Name and Number Song
To the tune of “Frère Jacques” (Are You Sleeping?)

Name and number, name and number,
Write it down!  Write it down!
If you do not write it,
We won’t know who did it.
Write it down!  Write it down!

“Wait just a minute!” you say, “Why does the word ‘it’ appear so many times in the song?  Surely the lyrics could use better grammar and diction?”

Trust me, this is the tried and true way I’ve learned to teach this song: it’s simple, so the kids learn it quickly and it works–their names actually do end up on their papers.

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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Feb 24, 2011


Oh You Lucky Duck! for would, could and should

This tip will help your students spell would, could and should.  Students have a hard time remembering the tricky vowel combination and silent “l.”  Teach them:

“Oh, you lucky duck!” to stand for “o-u-l-d:”  Would.  Could.  Should.  Whether they’re called trick words or sight words or anything else, these words are difficult for most students.

Now, if you could just get them to stop writing “would of” for “would’ve.”  How did students ever come up with that one?  It makes no sense whatsoever!

I have found that assigning students to write “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” twenty times cures this problem.  Repeat offenders can just keep copying until they get it right.

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Posted in Fun With Literacy,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Feb 22, 2011


It Must be a Full Moon

The term “lunatic” is no accident.  Throughout time, many people have believed that the lunar cycle affects human behavior.

Some say it’s a pseudoscience, but police officers, nurses, and teachers would disagree.  We can tell if it’s the full moon without ever looking outside!

If the full moon happens during the school week, I know life will become difficult.  I expect chatty students, social melodrama, and random eruptions of puppy-type wrestling among the boys.  I also know to expect the unexpected—strange changes in group dynamics, naughty behavior from formerly angelic students, rough times for special-needs students, etc.  Referrals to the principal go up during the full moon, as does the noise level in the cafeteria.

Everything seems to calm down during the waning moon.

For your reading pleasure, here is some Internet research (with all that implies) about the full moon’s impact on behavior:

In eighteenth-century England, a murderer could plead “lunacy” if the crime was committed during the full moon.

A University of New Orleans study found that 81% of mental health professionals believe that lunar cycles affect human behavior?

A July 2007 study by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that full moon emergency room visits for pets were increased compared to the rest of the month, to the tune of 23% higher for cats and 28% higher for dogs.

Psychologist Arnold Lieber of the University of Miami wrote two books about his theory that the full moon affects human behavior.

Far more research suggests no link between the full moon and accidents, crimes, and injuries.  Some say that nurses, teachers and cops believe in the correlation because superstitions arise in jobs where you feel you don’t have control over the situation.  They also suggest that the full\ moon theories are simply part of the culture in certain professions.

The full moon theory is definitely part of the culture of teaching.  Most teachers can tell you some hair-raising stories about the full moon!

Click here for an interesting article about the full moon from ABC News.

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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Feb 18, 2011


A Stack a Day Habit

I have noticed that the longer the Great Recession goes on, the hungrier my students get.  Free school breakfast and lunch are great, but students still want snacks.

Our lunchtime is quite late, and everyone gets hungry mid-morning.  Classroom snack time is nice—but not if only some kids have snacks.  On any given day, about a quarter to a third of my class remembers to bring a snack—mostly the students who bring their lunch to school.  I feel bad for the kids who don’t have snacks.

I buy Saltines to keep in the classroom.  They’re a perfect snack—tasty but not very exciting.  I buy the Ralston brand, which doesn’t have any trace of peanut.  I can usually buy a box for $1.50 or less.   That’s four stacks, and my class runs a stack-a-day habit, so I’m paying less than $2 a week to feed a good portion of my class.

I have a hard-and-fast rule: a serving size is 4 crackers, and you can only have crackers if you didn’t bring a snack.  The students enforce this, and are actually grateful for the crackers each and every day.  (It’s nice that they don’t take it for granted.)

I know it costs money, but I swear that my classroom is running better since I started supplying Saltines every day, not just for random snacks here and there.  The kids focus well for the remaining time until lunch.  You can buy the crackers yourself or ask parents to donate them.  Other good and cheap snacks are raisins, graham crackers, and string cheese.  Those packages of peanut butter crackers are nice if you don’t have a peanut allergy, but little kids don’t need 6 crackers.  Tell them to share with a buddy.

The crackers are also nice for “curing” classroom ailments.  Sometimes, I can treat an upset stomach by suggesting the student have some water and a cracker or two.

…My students and their stack a day habit.  Next year, they’re going to need a Saltine patch!

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Posted in Classroom Management,Food,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Feb 14, 2011


Squirt Procedure

Hand washing is an important way to stop the spread of germs, but organizing 30 children to wash up before lunch is a nightmare.  It takes forever and it’s messy.  The sink area would be flooded, I swear!

Our class has developed a quick-and-easy hand sanitizer procedure that I hope will help your class.

We form two number-order lines: students 1-14 and 15-30.  Two students are assigned the job of squirting.  We never vary who does the job.  (See my post for an explanation of the efficiency of assigning yearlong jobs.)

One squirter takes one line; the second squirter takes the other.  The students hold out their hands to receive the squirt.  We are all washed up in about 30 seconds, or the time it takes to sing one of my multiplication songs.  (See my post for advice on singing during transitions.)

I don’t have actual data, but I have noticed that my class doesn’t have plagues of flu and strep throat the way other classes seem to.  We haven’t had one of those weeks where half the class is absent.  (Knock on wood.)

I attribute it to our hand washing procedure.  I hope it works for you!

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Posted in Classroom Management,Food,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Feb 11, 2011


Presidents’ Day, February 21st

Once upon a time, schoolchildren celebrated holidays on the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and George Washington (February 22.)  Now, the two holidays are combined into one: Presidents’ Day.*

Presidents’ Day is a time for many traditional elementary school activities: learning about the presidents and completing worksheets, hearing stories about Washington and the cherry tree, and creating a silhouette of students using the overhead projector for tracing.  Fun activities, all.  Here is a not-so-traditional idea for a grammar lesson:

Presidents’ Day is not the official name for the holiday, and there is some disagreement on the spelling.  “Presidents’ Day” is favored by the Chicago Manual of Style, the American Heritage Dictionary, and Webster’s Dictionary.  “President’s Day” is incorrect because two presidents “own” the holiday, not one.  Use the day to try once again to teach students about where to place the apostrophe: before the s if ownership is singular, after the s if there are multiple owners. has a nice lesson plan for teaching apostrophe use and links to several practice worksheets.

ABCTeach has a collection of nice Presidents’ Day worksheets.

*The third Monday in February is the federal holiday that honors George Washington. Today, the date usually is observed as “Presidents Day” in recognition of other American presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln (who was born February 12). The legal name of the federal holiday, however, remains “Washington’s Birthday”. The federal holiday used to be observed on February 22nd until the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed by Congress.

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Posted in Academics,Fun With Literacy,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Feb 8, 2011