Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Teacher Self-Care FREEBIE (Teacher Appreciation Week 2020)

Happy Teacher's Appreciation Week!

Teachers deserves so much gratitude but especially now as many of us have found ourselves teaching in a whole new way.

Some of us come from schools or districts that are well-funded in technology and trained in using Google classroom or other platforms and others of us are scrambling to find away to connect with our students due to a lack of resources either from school or home.

But all of us are making due. Whatever your situation is, I hope you, your students, and families are safe.

Now lets get to some resources that I hope might help you out right now.

My friend has published another book in her series about Jake the Growling Dog ( I shared the first one on this blog before) and she recently sent me a copy of the new book Jake the Growling Dog goes to Doggy Daycare. This series is about respecting differences in others, kindness, and making friends. If you click the picture you can learn more about it on Amazon.

 Jake the Growling Dog Goes to Doggie Daycare

She was also kind enough to send two coloring pages that you can download for free from my Subscriber Library if you sign up to my newsletter. Pictured is one of the two coloring pages. After I read the latest book to my students I sent the coloring pages to their emails so they could print and color the pages if they wanted to have a fun activity while stuck at home.

I also wanted to share a quick story about teaching and the importance of self-care and staying healthy, along with a freebie.

Awhile back ago I found my self increasingly stressed out and it was affecting my health. I started getting muscle pain and cramps. I woke up really stiff and walking was very painful. My calfs felt like they were on fire. You may have heard of plantar fasciitis.

In true teacher fashion I suffer from busy body disease and wasn't making enough time to focus on myself or health. My doctor said if I didn't make some big changes I should probably just quit teaching and find a less stressful career.

I thought he was absolutely insane thinking I would quit a career that I loved and most importantly how would I pay my bills?

After making a lot of changes, going to physical therapy, and working to make healthier choices I actually began to feel tons better over the summer.

And the following school year I said no to additional committees, stipends, and left work at work because my health and well-being wasn't worth it.

If you have ever gone to physical therapy you know that the amount of visits insurance allows doesn't last forever. As soon as you stop exercising your injuries come back with a vengeance in no time.

So, I created a way I could track my own self-care and health goals to keep myself accountable. This has come especially in handy when all I want to do is snack and watch Netflix after I'm done teaching online each day.

I have also found that regular exercise also helps to keep my anxiety at bay. The first week of quarantine I was miserable and fearful. I knew I had to get moving again for my own mental well-being besides making sure that my muscle pain didn't return. This has really helped me to get back on track.

In addition to tracking my health and self-care goals I follow a few people online with who have free exercise videos. The first one I really like is @DocJenFit on Instagram / IGTV because she is a doctor of physical therapy. If you have muscle pain or stiffness and some injuries like I do she has a lot of helpful videos on to rehab your muscles so you feel stronger and better.

The second free exercise resource I use is Adriene's Free Yoga video series on YouTube.

I have also found this book to be helpful as it has many ideas for self-care, including activities that promote mindfulness and self reflection as well as some fun ideas. It's available on Amazon or check your local bookstore.

 Press Pause

Finally, if you are on Instagram I'm part of a group that is giving away diverse books here.  You can enter the giveaway through Friday, May 8th 11:59 PST


Let me know in the comments or email me if you used any of these free resource and found them to be helpful! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

FREE Keeping Healthy Resources for Kids and Online Learning

As a reading specialist I've been using this FREE awesome resource for a while now, because I can print and choose leveled passages and articles geared towards each of my students' reading needs and levels. If you aren't familiar with ReadWorks.org check them out. I also have a free video explaining how I use  it that I saved to IGTV on my Instagram. What has been great about this website is that I can now connect it to my Google Classroom for remote learning, and assign reading this way. Students can then read to me what I sent on video chat.

Another reading resource I love is using Reader's Theatre scripts. My students really enjoy these and because it's fun makes it where they don't feel as self-conscious about reading in front of everyone. When I tell them they have to decide what kind of voice their character might have they really get into. I love having an informal assessment of their progress and they are none the wiser. For struggling readers make sure they have a chance to read their script and practice decoding before reading aloud. If you search online you will find plenty of free reader's theatre scripts. This website is my favorite because they turn popular picture books into scripts. I can download them then add them to Google classroom so they have a copy to read from on their side. Another website focuses on Folktales and Fables. 

I'm not teaching math this year but my other favorite online resource that I love is Prodigy Math. My previous 5th grade and 3rd grade students alike loved this website. It's absolutely free and aligns to Common Core Math Standards. The best part is that students can play on mobile devices making it more accessible. There is a premium version but you don't need it unless your school wants to pay for more features like tracking progress and re-ordering units.

For science I recommend these Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS) aligned lessons and videos from a former science teacher at Mystery Science. I also used these with my third graders in the past and they loved it. 

BrainPop and BrainPopJr. have always been an amazing resource I have used for over a decade. They have free videos of the day, and free access during the Covid-19 shutdown. Their informative coronavirus video for kids is free to view without signing up for anything and happens to go with the lesson I created. They have videos related to any subject you can think of including art.

 BrainPop Coronavirus video

Before school was canceled I created these posters and lessons on keeping healthy for my classroom. You can access this eight page freebie in my subscribers' library by signing up to my email newsletter. 

I'm hosting one giveaway on my Instagram for a $10 TpT gift card and two picture books and another with my teacher friends for a chance to win $100 TpT gift card. Head over to my Instagram to enter and win! The first giveaway ends April 6th, 2020 and the second one for $100 ends April 13th, 2020. If you missed this book giveaway there will be more opportunities as I am giving away even more picture books in the near future.

Just head over to An Apple for the Teacher to participate. 

April Giveaway

I hope you found this post helpful and informative. Sending wishes for good health to you and your family.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Random Acts of Kindness in the Classroom

I want my students to learn kindness and empathy towards others over anything else. Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated on February 17th each year, and many schools also have events and service projects the same week. While I focus on character education the entire school year, and we have a service project in the fall this is another opportunity to emphasize, especially after students celebrate Valentine's day where cards and candy are the focus rather than how we can show real love and care for each other.

Random Acts of Kindness

Other days where acts of community service and kindness are encouraged are on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Cesar Chavez Day, and World Kindness Day celebrated on Nov. 13th. Some families even do Random Acts of Kindness as part of their Christmas countdown. 

First I print out and display quotes about kindness on the hearts I made. We discuss a quote a day as part of our morning meetings.

Then I share a video on kindness that I've saved to my public YouTube Kindness Counts Playlist that you can also use with your students. I also reccomend using YT Kids to avoid ads or videos that autoplay and aren't kid-friendly.

I also read these awesome books as read alouds. In Be Kind Tanisha learns how to make her classmate feel better and she also explores what it means to be kind. In Jake the Growling Dog, you meet a dog who has trouble making other animal friends due to his unique growl.  It's both a lesson in character education, mindfulness, and how we all can be more loving and kind to others with differences. (Note: Clicking on pics or links goes through my affiliate links on Amazon with no extra charge to you.) 


Then I have students write kind words on each person's heart shown below.

 Kindness Counts

I also share with students the list of ideas below, and they write their own ideas they commit to doing this week on small hearts I print for them on colored card stock to write on and cut out. Then I display them on the outside of my classroom door.


32 Random Acts of Kindness for Kids

32 Random Act of Kindness Ideas for Kids

  1. Compliment a friend. You can say you like something they are wearing or their hairstyle or how they are good at math. You could also thank them for being a good friend, or even helping you in class. 
  2. Pick up litter or trash in your classroom, cafeteria, or schoolyard that is on the ground.
  3. Write or tell your teacher thanks for helping you learn something.
  4. Thank the school librarian for helping you choose books.
  5. Thank the janitors for keeping your classroom and campus clean.
  6. Thank the school principal(s) for leading your school.
  7. Thank the yard supervisors for keeping you safe.
  8. Thank the school nurse and/ or secretaries for taking care of you when you get hurt.
  9. Thank a classroom aid or teacher assistant for helping in your class.
10. Thank other specialists or support staff like SPED teachers, speech therapists, etc.
11. Offer to help a classmate with something they are struggling to do or learn.
12. Offer to help your teacher organize and clean up the classroom library.
13. Volunteer to help your teacher pass out supplies.
14. Invite a student who is alone on the playground to join in a game.
15. Notice if there is a classmate who seems sad or grumpy. Ask them what you can do to cheer them up.
16. Don’t be a bystander. Stand up for others being bullied and let an adult know.
19. Compliment your teacher. Tell them what you appreciate. Make a card.
20. Ask your teacher if there is something you can help them with.
21. Visit your last year’s teacher and thank them for all they taught you.
22. Help a younger student with their reading. (Partner with another class)
23. Think of ways that students can help beautify your campus. Planting a garden, and even painting stepping stones can make for a fun project. 

This is also available as a printable checklist in my resource Kindness Counts along with this poster you can display in your school hallways.

 Kindness Counts

Kindness in Your Community and Service Projects        

23. Give to the needy
24. Help your family members with chores. 
25. Recycle and/or participate in community clean-up events
26. Visit the seniors in rest homes and make them cards or drawings.
27. Write letters to servicemen and women thanking them for their bravery and sacrifice for our country. This website accepts letters and has directions: https://www.operationgratitude.com/writeletters

28.  Organize a canned/ dry food drive for the holidays or any other time of the year. Each class gets a box to fill. Use Google to find the nearest donation center or makes baskets for needy families in the school community.

29. Organize a sock drive for Socktober (happens in October) check: https://happysocktober.com Also use Google to look for organizations or churches in your area that accept donations for the homeless.

31. Look for community cleanups that students can get involved in. (A non-profit near me sponsors a beach cleanup day and field trip for students, providing buses, gloves, and trash bags).

32. Fundraise by donating to a favorite charity. 

An easy low-cost way is to have a penny war. Each classroom gets a jar. Pennies count as positive points while all other coins and bills are subtracted from the total as negative points. Competitors from other classrooms can deliver silver coins and bills to other classrooms to lower their penny points. Post graphs charting progress in hallways. The class with the most pennies wins a prize like a popsicle party. 

I was able to raise over 3,500 dollars for Hurricane Katrina this way years ago. 

Also Heifer International has great classroom lessons and projects where students can help gift a farm animal to provide a sustainable source of food or income for needy families abroad. For more information check out: https://www.heifer.org/resources/school/index.html

Kindness Counts

Finally, I created a resource called Kindness Count to teach my students more about kindness. Inside are colorful hearts with kindness quotes that you can display in your classroom. There is also a kindness pennant banner, and hearts for students to write their own acts of kindness on. 

Below are awesome I was caught being good coins I found on Amazon that you can use these as a behavior incentive in your classroom and then kids can use them towards no-cost prizes like earning additional privileges in the classroom, such as getting to sit at a VIP desk or extra computer time. I have found that changing up my classroom management system a little when I come back in January helps my kiddos to continue to stay motivated and do well.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that it gave you helpful tips and resource you can use in your classroom.