As the holiday season approaches, we find ourselves surrounded by the warm glow of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a time when families come together, delicious meals are shared, and joy fills the air.
The holiday season, with Thanksgiving and Christmas at its heart, provides a perfect backdrop for teaching about kindness, compassion, and gratitude.
This is a time to think about how to add some festivities into our teaching as well as some special meaning.
I love to use this time to help kids think about others and how we can make things happier or easier for them.
Acts of kindness are a special focus at this time of year. Here are some ideas to try that might help foster a giving and caring spirit.
Counting Our Blessings
When we think of Thanksgiving, we think of all the things and people we are thankful for. We start to focus on what we have and we start to count our blessings. Often we need to have these reminders as we live in a world of "all about me" bombardment.
There are several ways to share our thoughts. One that works well is a "Thankful Tree". Have your students craft leaves out of paper, and on each leaf, they can write or draw something they are thankful for. These leaves can be attached to a tree displayed in the classroom, forming a visual representation of gratitude.
Another way to focus on things that they are thankful for is to create a gratitude journal and write things in it that they are grateful or thankful for. Incorporate gratitude journals into your classroom routine. Have your students write or draw one thing they are thankful for each day. This practice helps them focus on the positive aspects of their lives and appreciate the little things that often go unnoticed.
Here is a fall gratitude journal that I created that might work for you.
Spirit Of Giving
As Christmas approaches, emphasize that the holiday season is not just about receiving gifts but also about the joy of giving. Share stories or read books that focus on the spirit of giving, such as "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein or "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr. Seuss. Discuss how the characters in these stories experience joy and fulfillment through their acts of kindness.
Acts Of Kindness Activities
Plan classroom activities that promote kindness and compassion. Encourage your students to do things to brighten up someone's day and make it special.
Create an "Acts of Kindness" calendar for the days leading up to Christmas. On each day, include a small act of kindness that students can perform. These can be as simple as saying a kind word to a classmate, helping a family member with a chore, or making a holiday card for someone in need. Make it a fun daily ritual in your classroom to share stories of these acts and celebrate the good deeds your students have done.
Here is a set of coupons that might be fun to hand out to others.
Provide opportunities for your students to participate in activities in the school community that provide service to others. This could include participating in a food drive, collecting toys for underprivileged children, or visiting a local nursing home to sing carols and spend time with the elderly. When children see the impact their actions have on others, it deepens their understanding of the true meaning of the holidays.
Different Holiday Traditions
Ensure that all students feel included during holiday celebrations. The holiday season is a great time to teach students about the diversity of cultures and traditions.
Acknowledge and respect the diverse cultural traditions within your classroom. Teach your students about different holiday customs, fostering understanding and acceptance among classmates. Discuss various holiday celebrations from around the world.
There are many different books that would work well for sharing the special holidays and celebrations that happen at this time of the year.
The book "Horrible Harry And The Holidaze" shares aspects from several different holidays celebrated by different members from Harry's class. (My students enjoyed this because it was with characters they were familiar with from other books in the series.)
There are many other ways to help kids to develop a spirit of giving. It might be fun to include them in the discussion and find out ways they would like to try out. This gives ownership and helps them to feel valued as well.
Teaching our young students about the significance of kindness during Thanksgiving and Christmas is a priceless gift that will serve them well throughout their lives. By incorporating these strategies into your teaching, you can make the holiday season a time of both joy and valuable life lessons.
Let's inspire the next generation to embrace kindness, compassion, and empathy, creating a brighter and more compassionate future for all.
To say the pandemic has caused havoc in schools is an understatement. Teachers are burning out, kids are way behind in their academic progress, and mental health issues are at an all time high. We need to do something to turn this around or things are going to get even worse.
Teachers are stressed and taking medical leaves and there are not enough replacement teachers around to pick up the extra load. That means that classes are being covered by district staff, administrative staff and teachers that should be on their preps. This can't continue. We need to find some solutions to fix this.
Online learning was not equitable and so some kids were ahead of the game after spending months learning this way, while most kids were getting further and further behind. There could be many different reasons suggested for this: lack of access to technology, lack of one to one support, parents not feeling qualified to help or feeling overwhelmed with managing multiple children and their assignments as well as their own work loads, especially if they were working from home for different businesses. These are some of the suggested reasons.
For some children, working online didn't happen. Some kids were not tuned in to learning and they didn't even attempt to do the work. Others were too stressed by the online format. Others may not have had the necessary access to the technology. This caused wide learning gaps when the schools reopened and kids returned to in person learning.
As a volunteer in the school, I am still seeing the repercussions a couple of years later. Many kids in grades 3 and 4 are still struggling with basic facts, decoding written material, and basic writing tasks. They are requiring extra support, but there isn't enough to go around.
The tendency is to lower the expectations and teach to the lower end of the group, but this is not really a good option. Kids still need to be challenged and they need to be able to eventually handle more difficult work. Instead of lowering expectations, teaching in a different way may be better.
Gone are the days of being able to teach whole class lessons most of the time. Instead, kids need to be given instruction that they can use and grow from there. One of the best ways to do this is to do small group targeted teaching.
It requires more work at the beginning to get differentiated groups set up, but by using this approach, those that are struggling will have more success and begin to move faster towards approaching expectations. Those that are at level will get more meaningful instruction, and those that are exceeding levels will have some more challenging work that will keep them motivated to learn.
One option that might work is buddying up with another same grade class. Then kids could be regrouped together so that they are able to work on similar areas with differentiated materials that better match the needs of the groups.
This is a method that has been used for guided reading groups at a couple of schools I've worked at. The key is to get enough people to keep the groups small enough to make them work successfully.
Guided math groups could also be an option for differentiating instruction.
There is no quick fix for closing the gap or getting everyone up to expectation levels, but it's important to look for ways to keep kids engaged and learning. Those that are struggling will otherwise give up and those that are already meeting or above expectations will lose interest and motivation to keep pushing themselves.
I wish there was a magic wand that could change this, but there isn't. Teachers, you are doing so much to try to help your students in a tough situation. Hang in there. Even when some days feel somewhat hopeless, there are kids that are moving towards lightbulb moments. Celebrate those moments with them and count them as successes.
Developing a nurturing environment and a positive learning community results from effective classroom management and student engagement. There are many different ways to encourage student participation and a caring classroom community. Here are a few different ideas to consider.
Try Ice breaker activities
Ice breaker activities are a good way to help students to get acquainted with each other. They can help to build community and depending on the types of activities, they can help kids to understand each other better as well. These activities can be combined with others to promote team building and working together. Here are some quick and easy games to try.
Roll the Di and Share
Give each person a di and get them to roll it and find others with the same number. When the groups are formed, have each person share 4 things about themselves. Repeat this activity as many times as wanted.
Students go around the room saying "mingle mingle" as they meet up with others. Call out a number and everyone with that number meets together. Call out a type of machinery and the members of the group need to figure out how to use their bodies to create the machinery.
Find Someone Who (5W version)
Interview one person or multiple people using the 5W questions. Share the results later with the class as you introduce students to each other. Here is a ready made resource for you to try.
Find Someone Who Ice Breaker - 5W Version
Set clear and consistent rules and expectations
Setting clear and consistent rules and expectations will help everyone to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with situations that arise in the classroom. Discussing and setting these rules and expectations together will help with creating a sense of ownership and responsibility. Students will know what is expected and will be more willing to accept consequences should these rules or expectations not be followed.
Using T-charts or other forms can help with visualizing these expectations and what they should look like and sound like. Here are some T-charts that might help.
Focusing on social emotional learning activities will also help with developing a caring classroom community. It will also help when conflicts happen. Conflict resolution strategies should be taught as well. Problem solving and learning to work together will go a long ways if the tools and strategies are taught.
Here are some Social booklets that might help.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Social Stories And Activities
Transition activities and brain breaks
Incorporating transition activities will help to make movement between activities smoother and less disruptive and adding in brain breaks will help students stay energized and focused during longer periods of learning.
Morning meetings and class meetings
Morning meetings are a great way to get the day started and to encourage the students to work together. They can be used in a variety of ways, but appreciating and encouraging each other is a great way to develop positive relationships.
Classroom meetings are an effective way to deal with problems and situations that arise. Students have a chance to discuss their thoughts, concerns, and ideas, creating a sense of ownership within the classroom.
More activities and resources
If you are interested in more resources, check out my classroom management category and my ready to go kits.
Primary Teachers Ready To Go Kits
By implementing these activities, teachers can nurture a sense of community and caring in the classroom, creating an environment where students feel supported, respected, and valued as part of a cohesive learning community.
Have you ever noticed how some teachers seem to have great control of the classroom situation and that the kids seem to be engaged in learning and happy to be with their peers? Other teachers seem to be constantly dealing with disruptions, and struggling to keep kids on task and engaged? One of the main reasons for the difference could be classroom management.
What is classroom management?
Classroom management refers to strategies and techniques used by teachers to create positive and productive learning environments in which students can effectively engage in learning activities. It involves setting and enforcing rules, maintaining order, fostering a sense of respect and responsibility, and maximizing instructional time.
Good classroom management usually includes setting clear expectations, using positive reinforcement, effectively communicating, and being proactive. The lessons are interesting and relevant so that the students remain engaged in their learning.
The importance of good classroom management
Having good classroom management is essential for several reasons:
• A well-managed classroom allows teachers to focus on teaching rather than managing disruptions, leading to more instructional time and improved student learning outcomes.
• Positive classroom management encourages active student participation and engagement, enhancing the learning experience. It creates a safe, supportive, and comfortable atmosphere that helps students feel comfortable expressing themselves and taking risks. It enhances the teacher-student relationship and promotes trust and open communication. Students feel motivated and confident to learn.
• Effective management helps shape positive behaviors, social skills, and self-discipline among students, promoting personal growth. It also reduces stress for both teachers and students, enabling a more enjoyable teaching and learning experience.
Optimizing learning, student engagement, emotional safety, behavioral development, a positive learning environment, teacher-student relationships, and reducing stress for both the teacher and the students all make for more effective learning and a happier classroom experience.
Without effective classroom management, the learning environment can be disruptive and chaotic and the students are not going to be as engaged in their learning.
Poor classroom management can happen as a result of inconsistent enforcement and consequences for broken rules and poor behaviors. Lack of communication or negative reinforcement can also cause issues in the classroom.
If students don't have clear and consistent rules and expectations for behavior, academic performance, and participation, they will not develop trust and respect for the teacher or each other.
Benefits of planning routines and rules for classroom behavior
Establishing routines and rules for classroom behavior provides numerous benefits. Consistent expectations, time management, smooth transitions, predictability, reduced disruptions, social skills development, and behavioral guidance are some examples.
Consistency is key. When rules and expectations are consistently applied, students understand the standards of behavior, leading to a more harmonious classroom. Routines and rules help establish a positive classroom culture and reinforce appropriate behavior. Preplanned rules also provide a basis for addressing behavioral issues, making it easier to correct misbehavior.
Clearly defined rules help minimize disruptions and maintain a focused learning atmosphere. Having planned routines eases transitions between activities, saving time and reducing disruptions. Routines and rules provide opportunities for students to develop social skills, respect for others, and responsibility.
When students know what to expect, they feel more secure and can focus on learning without unnecessary anxiety helping them feel more at ease in the learning environment
Involving your students in setting expectations can be valuable for promoting ownership and a positive learning environment. This collaborative process can take place at the beginning of the school year or at the start of a new term. Students can be encouraged to contribute their ideas about how they should behave and interact in the classroom. By participating in this process, students are more likely to take ownership of the rules and understand the rationale behind them.
However, while involving students in establishing expectations can be beneficial, teachers should still have a clear framework and authority to make final decisions and ensure that the expectations are conducive to learning and respectful behavior.
Rules and expectations around the school
Similar to the classroom, setting expectations around the school helps maintain a positive and harmonious environment. These expectations may include respecting school property, showing kindness to peers and staff, following school rules and safety guidelines, and being responsible for one's actions. Consistency between classroom and school-wide expectations reinforces positive behavior and fosters a cohesive school culture.
These rules and expectations may vary from class to class, but some expectations should be common for all students.
Some areas to consider are hallway behavior, bathroom use, assembly behavior, and playground behavior. Consistent expectations throughout the school helps reinforce positive behavior and contributes to a more respectful learning community. It also helps as teachers are often required to monitor other students during transitions or recess breaks.
Choose what works for you
There are many different ways of developing effective classroom management, so it is important to find what works best for you. Professional development workshops, webinars, educational websites, and various other online tools are available. Learning from respected colleagues is also very useful when looking for practical ideas.
Remember: What works for someone else may or may not work for you based on your teaching style, personality, and the class makeup. It is important to check out different strategies and systems and choose something that will fit with you and your students.
Next time I will focus on some classroom management activities and resources to help get the year started off positively.
A new school year is fast approaching. As you plan for your best year yet, here are 10 things you might want to consider.
1. Classroom Setup and Organization
Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment will support student engagement and collaboration. Planning the physical layout of your classroom, considering the arrangement of desks, bulletin boards, and learning centers, and organizing materials, supplies, and resources in an accessible manner will help.
2. Curriculum and Instructional Planning
It is important to make sure you are familiar with the curriculum requirements for your grade level or subject area. This will help you to develop a scope and sequence, outlining the major topics, skills, and assessments for the year. Consider ideas for differentiating instruction to meet the diverse needs of your students and prepare a variety of engaging instructional strategies, resources, and materials aligned with the curriculum.
3. Establishing Classroom Procedures and Expectations
Know what your classroom procedures, rules, and expectations are and communicate these guidelines to students. Try to involve them in the process whenever possible. Set behavior expectations, rules for participation, and consequences for misbehavior. Developing routines for daily activities, transitions, and classroom management will help create a structured and positive learning environment.
4. Getting to Know Your Students
Gather information about your students' interests, strengths, learning styles, and individual needs. Consider using student interest surveys or icebreaker activities to learn about them and build positive relationships. You could also review student records, previous assessments, or reports from previous teachers. (Note: I try not to do this immediately as I want to form my own impressions first.)
5. Differentiation and Individualized Support
Identify students who may require additional support or accommodations based on their learning needs, abilities, or backgrounds. Develop strategies to differentiate instruction and create individualized learning plans when necessary. Collaborate with other professionals, such as special education teachers or English language support staff, to ensure appropriate support for all students.
6. Parent and Guardian Communication
It is important to establish effective communication channels with parents and guardians. Introduce yourself, share your contact information, and explain your preferred methods of communication. Plan parent-teacher conferences or open house events to foster collaboration and provide opportunities for parents to share their insights about their child's strengths and needs.
I find that parents can sometimes be your best background source of information on their child. They can give some insight into their life outside of school. I send home a "getting acquainted" form at the beginning of the year. You can get a copy for yourself by clicking the button below.
7. Assessment and Data Collection
Decide what assessment methods and tools you will use throughout the year to monitor student progress. Consider formative assessments, such as pre-tests, observations, or checklists, to gather baseline data and inform your instructional planning. Set up a system for organizing and analyzing student data to guide your instruction and identify areas for growth.
8. Social-Emotional Learning
The social and emotional well-being of your students is key to promoting a positive classroom culture, empathy, respect, and a sense of belonging. Plan activities or discussions and explore strategies to address potential challenges or issues that may arise, such as implementing morning meetings or incorporating social-emotional learning into your curriculum.
9. Professional Development and Growth
Remember to continue your own personal and professional growth. Reflect on your professional development needs and identify areas where you can further enhance your teaching practice. Seek out relevant workshops, conferences, or online resources to stay updated on the latest research and best practices in education. Consider collaborating with colleagues to share ideas, resources, and support.
10. Flexibility and Adaptability
Recognize that each school year brings unique challenges and opportunities. Be prepared to adjust your plans and strategies based on the evolving needs of your students and the classroom dynamics. Embrace a growth mindset, remain open to feedback and collaboration, and be willing to adapt your teaching practices as necessary.
By considering these aspects, you can effectively prepare for the new school year, set a positive tone in the classroom, and create a supportive learning environment for your students.
Summer is the perfect time to have fun and explore the wonders of science! With the sun shining and plenty of free time, it's an opportunity for kids to engage in hands-on experiments that spark curiosity and ignite a love for learning.
Science doesn't have to be boring or complicated. In fact, it can be a thrilling adventure that sparks curiosity and fuels the imagination. Here are some exciting and easy science experiments that can be done at home or in the great outdoors. Get ready to have fun while discovering the amazing world of science!
Experiment 1: Bubbling Magic - Dancing Raisins
Do you know that even raisins can dance? Gather some carbonated water, a clear glass, and some raisins. Pour the carbonated water into the glass and drop a few raisins in. Watch in amazement as the raisins bob up and down like magic! This experiment demonstrates the concept of buoyancy and gas release.
Experiment 2: Density Delight - Floating Egg
Ever wondered if an egg can float? Find out by conducting this experiment. Fill a tall glass with water and carefully place an egg in it. Observe whether the egg floats or sinks. Now add salt to the water, stir until it dissolves, and repeat the process. Witness the surprising change in the egg's behavior! This experiment explores density and its impact on buoyancy.
Experiment 3: Colorful Creations - Milk And Dish Soap
Prepare for a dazzling display of colors! Pour some milk into a dish and add a few drops of different food coloring. Dip a cotton swab with dish soap into the milk and watch as vibrant swirls and patterns emerge before your eyes. This experiment showcases a chemical reaction and the concept of surface tension.
Testing Out Gravity - The Clink-Clunk Test
Here is another experiment that you might like to try. It is always surprising for kids to see the results. This was a favorite for my students.
Summer is the perfect time to engage in exciting science experiments that combine fun and learning. These four experiments are just a taste of the countless possibilities that await you. From watching raisins dance, to seeing if eggs float or sink, to swirling patterns in milk, there is so much to explore and learn. So, gather your materials, invite your friends and family, and let the summer science fun begin!
Get ready for an extraordinary summer filled with science, exploration, and endless possibilities. Let your imagination soar as you dive into these fascinating experiments. Have a blast and enjoy the wonder of scientific discovery!
How many times have you heard an adult say they are no good at math or that they hate math? So many times, it isn't that they weren't capable, but that they were never really shown how to do it with real world applications or with understanding. They were just taught algorithms and formulas and didn't see why they needed them.
The way math is taught now is very different, or at least it should be. I am a strong believer in making sure that things make sense so that they can be applied to other situations. What might seem straight forward or clear to one person might make no sense at all to another person.
Just think about the different ways math is used. It isn't just adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing numbers. It is also measurement, geometry, coordinates, graphing, statistics, just to mention a few. Some people are really good at numbers and calculations, while others have great spatial awareness, and some can solve puzzles while others struggle to see the relationships between shapes and designs.
Math has it own language as well. This can be confusing for some people. Word problems are very hard for some people to figure out.
Over the years, i discovered that it is necessary to go back to the basics and make sure that the building blocks are in place before attempting more complex or abstract concepts. When I was working with intermediate students in small groups, I found that many of them didn't know their basic facts and they struggled with addition and subtraction strategies. This made multiplication and division almost impossible for them to do well. I took them back to the basics and in time they were doing much of the work covered in class with some proficiency. They still needed extra support, but it was starting to make sense to them. They even started to enjoy math instead of dreading it.
You can find out more about ways to help kids improve in this blog post.
Practicing math skills during the summer will go a long way in helping to maintain skills for the new year. There are plenty of fun and engaging activities you can plan for kids during the summer that incorporate math and keep them learning. Here are some ideas:
Math themed scavenger hunt
Create a scavenger hunt where kids have to solve math problems or puzzles to find hidden objects or clues. You can design it around a specific math concept, like geometry or fractions, and hide clues or objects that reinforce those concepts.
Cooking and baking
Involve kids in cooking and baking activities that require them to use measurements, conversions, and fractions. Encourage them to follow recipes, measure ingredients, and calculate serving sizes. They can also explore the concept of ratios by experimenting with different ingredient proportions.
Outdoor measurement exploration
Take advantage of the outdoors to explore measurement concepts. Have kids measure the height of trees, the length of their shadows at different times of the day, or the circumference of various objects using a measuring tape or ruler. They can record their findings and compare measurements.
Math board games
Introduce kids to math-focused board games or card games that involve strategic thinking and problem-solving. Games like Monopoly, Set, or Sudoku can help improve their math skills while having fun.
Math art projects
Combine math and art by engaging kids in geometric art projects. They can create symmetrical designs, tessellations, or use grids to draw patterns. This allows them to explore concepts like symmetry, shapes, and angles while expressing their creativity.
Math related crafts
Encourage kids to engage in crafts that involve math concepts. For example, they can create paper origami shapes, construct 3D models using geometric shapes, or design and build structures using various materials. These activities promote spatial reasoning and critical thinking skills.
Math apps and online games
Utilize educational math apps and online games that provide interactive learning experiences. There are numerous apps and websites available that offer math games, puzzles, and quizzes suitable for different age groups.
Have kids maintain a math journal where they can record and explore math concepts they encounter in their daily lives. They can write about real-life applications of math, solve problems, or illustrate concepts. This encourages reflection and critical thinking.
By integrating math into summer activities, you can help children strengthen their math skills while having a great time.
Teachers are looking forward to relaxing during the summer break and taking a rest from all the stress of teaching, but many are still on the lookout for ideas and inspiration for the next year. The trick is to find the balance between resting and planning as they strive to recharge for the new year.
Do you like to plan first or later?
Some teachers like to have a plan in place before they go on break so that they have a sense of where to start and what they want to do when it is time to return to the new school year. Other teachers like to stop completely, take a mind break, and resume their planning near the end of the summer.
Both plans can work, but it is important to do what is best for you. Don't feel you have to do what your colleagues are doing. If you need the mental break now, take it. If you need to feel like you have a future plan in place, create it.
Once you have done what you need to do for you, take that break and relax, refresh, and recharge.
Easier said than done
In my experience, shutting off the teacher brain at the end of the school year takes time. Although the calendar says that school is over for the year, sleeping in, formulating plans, and letting go doesn't start the next day. It takes a few days, or maybe even weeks, to really let it go and relax.
When you finally start relaxing and feeling like you are on holidays, the hype for back to school starts all around you. Ads on tv, in newspapers, and on radio broadcasts begin to bombard you and you start to turn on the teacher brain again.
As tempting as it may be to start doing extensive planning when this happens, it is important to still take time for you. You will burn out faster if you don't find some time to do other things and truly refresh, recharge and re-energize.
One way to combine planning and fun is to do things with your children or grandchildren. You will get to see their reactions and listen to their questions as you go places and explore different events or activities together. This can provide great inspiration and creative thought for implementation of similar experiences in the classroom, because you actually got to experience them instead of just doing research for them.
Today's reality in many school districts, at least here in Canada, is that the classes can be shuffled after the start of the year and teachers could have a totally different group or grade level than they expected. This happened to me a few years ago.
I had planned a big social studies unit for my kids based on the grade I was given. I knew many of the kids and I was confident they would be able to handle the work. I even had my bulletin boards all ready and I was making resources for my lessons. A couple of days before school started, the classes were shuffled due to numbers and class sizes. I ended up going down a grade level and all the work I had done was unusable because it was too hard for younger students to handle. I took down my displays, and decided at the point I was never again going to do intensive planning ahead of time.
Suggestion: If you must do some planning, do some basic planning that can support learning the first couple of weeks of school as you get to meet your students and see what will work for them.
Have a wonderful break!
Different parts of the world have their summer break at different times, so you may be part way through your break and in relax mode while others are anxiously waiting for their break to get here. Wherever you are on the timeline, have a wonderful and refreshing summer break. You deserve it!
Remember: Relax, Refresh, Recharge.
During summer break, how can we ensure that kids have fun, but still keep practicing their skills so they don't become victims of the summer slide? They are ready to play and forget about school for awhile, but it is still important to maintain learning.
What is the summer slide?
Summer slide is a real thing and it can create a wide range of learning challenges at the beginning of the year if it isn't addressed. Summer slide is the drop in academic levels after a couple of months of inactivity with skills and concepts studied during the year. It can mean more intensive review and relearning may be needed when school resumes if it is allowed to happen.
Many families don't think much about maintaining learning activities during the summer. This is not a criticism, but rather an observation. Kids are done with school by the end of the year and they are not eager to continue doing academic work during the summer holidays. Families use the time for vacations, if they are not working, or they are looking for ways to provide daycare for the kids. When they are together, they want to do things that are fun and they don't always see ways to combine the fun with academic practice.
Summer school with a twist
In our district, we have summer school for the first month of the summer break. This is not your typical summer school where kids just do academic work, but rather it is a mix of academics and other activities that make learning more fun and connected. It is broken down into 2 week sets and parents can sign kids up for one or two sets.
The variety of courses may combine science and art, reading and sports, writing and acting, math and science, STEM, or other combinations of academics and the arts or sports.
More ways to link fun and academics
Day camps are another way of getting outdoors, having fun, and hopefully applying some skills learned to practical situations. They may include field trips to different places, art activities, sports, or other games and activities. Tapping into these and reinforcing skills linked to the practical activities is also another way of continuing to use skills and concepts taught at school.
Many libraries have programs that happen in the summer. Perhaps kids could be signed up for these. Signing out books to read and participating in puppet shows, or other reading related activities is sure to help keep them engaged and reading throughout the summer.
Keeping a journal or diary of vacation adventures or weekly happenings is a great way to encourage writing and also helps with remembering all the things that were done throughout the summer. Sometimes kids will be amazed at how much they did when they look back at their journal. Creating a memory book with photos and drawings is another way of capturing moments for the future.
Create some games or ways of keeping track of the different activities so that they are fun to do, but they help kids to keep learning and practicing skills throughout the summer. Grab this sport themed game board to create a variety of different games that can help.
Teachers can provide materials and suggestions, but ultimately, the families have to buy into the idea that maintaining skills throughout the summer is important if the summer slide is to be avoided. Check out the related posts below for some specific ideas for the various subject areas.
As the weather begins to warm up and the sunshine brightens our days, other things can warm our heart as well. This is the time of year to think about special people and all that they have done for us. From caring for us to little acts of kindness, we have been blessed to have these people in our lives.
Special Days For Special People
Some of the most popular special celebrations at this time of the year are Mother's Day, Father's Day, Teacher Appreciation Day/Week, and Volunteer Appreciation. Here are a few ideas and resources to help with these celebrations.
Mother's Day/Father's Day
As family dynamics change, it makes it more difficult to focus on some celebrations, Mother's Day and Father's Day are two that have been traditionally celebrated over the years and time has been spent making gifts and cards at school for these special days.
However, it is more complicated now and we need to take into consideration those who might find this a challenge and help them to feel included and comfortable participating. If a mother or father is not part of the picture, a special lady or special man in the person's life can be the focus instead.
Mother's Day (Special Lady)
There are many special women that can be acknowledged on this day. They may be mothers, grandmothers, aunts, step mothers, foster mothers, friends of the family, neighbors, or even teachers. These women are special for various different reasons, but they are important in our lives. If a child has more than one "mother figure" and wishes to celebrate these special ladies, it's important to give them that opportunity.
Here are some resources that may be of interest for Mother's Day.
Mother's Day Certificates
Mother's Day Booklets And Cards
Special Mother's Day Coupons And Acrostic
Special Day Coupons, Templates And Acrostics (for mothers, fathers, and generic)
Father's Day (Special Man)
As with mothers, kids may want to celebrate different special men in their lives. They may be fathers, grandfathers, uncles, step fathers, foster fathers, friends of the family, neighbors, or even teachers. These men provide different roles in their lives, but they are important to the child. Opportunities need to be provided to acknowledge them as well.
Here are some resources that may be of interest for Father's Day.
Father's Day Cards For Dads And Other Special Men
Father's Day Cards And Posters
Special Day Coupons, Templates And Acrostics (for mothers, fathers, and generic)
Teacher Appreciation Day/Week
Teachers do so much for our children. It is only fitting that they be celebrated. They have had a tough time during these last few years dealing with the pandemic and the residual effects of varied learning experiences as a result. They continue to show up and give their all every day, even when they are struggling. Teacher appreciation day or week, depending on where you are, is just a small acknowledgement of their impact on our children's lives. Every little thank you token of appreciation is special to them. Don't forget to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Support staff and educational assistants are also important and should be included in these celebrations. There are so many things they do to help teachers and support learning.
Many schools have volunteer appreciation days or teas to thank volunteers for all they do for the school. This could be the parent groups, classroom helpers, individual parents, or people from the community. All of these people help the programs and school run better. Helpers are always needed, and we want to make sure they are not taken for granted.
Every school or district is different, but here is an example from what we have done at our school.
The classes would meet in the gymnasium and the volunteers would be invited to enter after every class was there. The students would give them a standing ovation as they entered the gym. This would be followed by some entertainment and then a strawberry tea. The students would be in class or outside playing while the tea was happening. The senior students would serve the volunteers.
Place mats and thank you cards were made for the tables. Plants were also provided to decorate and then take home.
Here are some place mats and thank you cards that I created for use at our tea.
Helping Hands Thank You Notes
Whatever the special occasion, it's a chance to say thank you and let people know that you appreciate them. So many times people feel taken for granted and this little acknowledgement can warm their hearts and help them to keep going.
Thank you to all the special people in my life. You have given me so much and I truly am blessed to have you as part of my life. I may not say it often enough, but I do appreciate you.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.