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 it a bit 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 it makes they don't feel as self-conscious about reading in front of everyone. Bonus they have no idea I'm getting them to read and so I can have an informal assessment of their progress. 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 want to pay for more features like tracking progress and ordering units.

For science I recommend these Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS) Aligned lessons and videos from a former science teacher. 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. 

Also, TeachersPayTeachers is having their site-wide sale earlier this year to help out teachers in need of resources. Usually this sale is held during Teacher's Appreciation Week.

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 the book giveaway there will be more opportunities as I plan to giveaway 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.

Monday, January 20, 2020

100th Day of School Activities for Upper Elementary

Share some activities I use to celebrate the 100th day of school with upper elementary students. Often you see counting activities geared towards primary grades but you can do so much more. Dress up is always a fun idea for both students and teachers. Cue Golden Girls and this cute kiddo below for costume inspiration.

 !00th day of school ideas

One of the activities I like to do is read a book about what it was like to live 100 years ago. This book takes place in the 1900s in New York city so you have some context. I included some sample pages so you can see the table of contents as well. (If you are interested in getting the book you can click on any of the book images below and it will take you to Amazon via my affiliate link.)  I have students compare using a Venn diagram how it was then vs. now.

100th day of school ideas

100th day of school ideas

100th day of school ideas

Then I take my students picture with my 100 days smarter letter board and the Aging Booth App using my iPhone. Click here for the Android app. (I am pictured using the app below.) After I take the pictures I go online to print them using the google photo app that backs up all my pictures automatically on my phone. Students can include the pictures with their writing or in their end of year class memory books we create.

100th day of school ideas

100th day of school ideas

Another fun idea is to have students brainstorm and name as many activities or things you have learned as a class so far. I use chart paper to list their ideas. A funny addition is to have them share things you always say, and you can add those to the list as well.

100th day of school meme

This is a treat bag I also love to make for my students. I'm always looking for a chance to celebrate and have fun in my class. Plus, I look forward to treats just as much as my students do.

100th day of school ideas

Finally, for a writing activity I have students write about how they think they will be when they are 100 years old. The results can be comical. Check out this hilarious meme about this writing prompt making it's way around the Internet. I totally want to be this kid when I'm 100 years old as well.

100th day of school ideas

The writing paper I use, the Venn diagram mentioned earlier, and the cookie topper template are a also part of a free printable download I made for my email subscribers. Access my free resource library by subscribing to my newsletter at the top of this page or wherever you see a pop up and you will receive the link to it by email.

100th day of school ideas

I hope you have a lot of fun using these ideas with your students!