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Friday, August 24, 2012

Calendar Activities

It's about time, teachers, -- calendar time!  

Recently, I posted about introducing patterning and predicting to your calendar activities. (See blog post here.)  Calendar icons for Sept. & Oct. are available FREE at Tpt and at TNThe response was enthusiastic and overwhelming.  Naturally, that spurred me to create calendar icons for the entire year.  

Each month's icons increase the complexity of the pattern.  Simple patterns based on color transition into color, shape, and direction properties.  

The simplest pattern begins in July, in deference to those of you who teach in year-round schools.  The calendar icons come in sets of 31, allowing you to use them in any month you choose.  I have also included some icons for special days, such as Father's Day or the first day of spring. 

I like to place the special day icons on the calendar on the first day of the month.  Then as we do our calendar activities, we can count the days until Father's Day, for example. We can also predict what the icon for that day will be, ultimately replacing the special day icon with the patterned one.  The hardest part for me is not affirming my students' predictions until we reach the actual day.  It's just so rewarding to hear the kiddos squeal, "I was right!" when that icon is placed on the calendar.  

Also included are title strips for each month.  The title strips are designed for 8 1/2" x 14" paper.  

All of the traditional calendar activities continue.  Naturally, we name the day, tell what day came before, and which day will come next.  We still bundle sticks into groups of 5 to tally our days in school.  Counting the days until the weekend or a special day carries on, etc.

By using patterned icons, you can simply add another dimension to your calendar activities.  In naming the pattern and predicting the next icon, you are exercising your students' critical thinking skills, challenging their visual discrimination abilities, addressing the CCSS, maximizing your teaching time, and engaging your students in a fun and valuable activity.  It's about time, teachers!


 free set                                             

entire year set

Update 2015 :  Now available, a new set of calendar icons in a forest friends theme.

Friday, August 17, 2012


It’s about time, teachers, for some creativity!  Here’s a fun project that is sure to get your students’ creative juices flowing.

Challenge your students’ creativity with vanity license plates.  Vanity plates are car license plates that convey a personalized message using just 8 letters and/or numbers.  Many vanity plates have cryptic messages that symbolize something important to the owner.  The message may tell something about the person’s:

appearance --   

personality --

accomplishment --
occupation -- 
or philosophy --

Present several examples, asking your students to deduce the meaning.  This will get your class into the right frame of mind for creating vanity plates. Then challenge them to design 2 vanity plates. 

The first license plate should describe someone or something well known.  For example:

  • A famous person like Abe Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, or Christopher Columbus
  • An occupation such as cook, artist, or computer programmer
  • A fictional character like Cinderella, Superman, or the 7 dwarves
  • A fictional place such as Never-Never Land or the Land of Oz
  • A well-known site such as Mount Rushmore or the Eiffel Tower
  • An historic event like the 1st moon landing or the Civil War

The second license plate should describe something unique to the student.  It may be a personality trait, a favorite activity, a goal, an accomplishment, or a message s/he wishes to express. 

Encourage your students to think of several ideas before selecting the license plates that suit them best.  Fluency of ideas often leads to increased creativity.  Distribute 2 templates to your students and encourage them to use upper case letters.  Numbers can be used for words (1 for ONE or WON, 8 for EIGHT or ATE).  Alternate or incomplete spellings are absolutely acceptable (CS for SEES or SEAS, or EZ DUZ IT).  

Display the vanity plates on a bulletin board in the hall.  Then prepare for traffic jams as spectators gather to decipher the messages.  

You can download all the materials for this project for FREE at my TpT Store or TN Shop

Monday, August 13, 2012

Calendar Patterns

Young students love the comfort of a daily routine in their classroom.  One of the most universal routines is a morning meeting with calendar activities.  Lots of math concepts are inherent with calendar activities.  But, have you every incorporated patterning?  

Once September rolls around, I like to subtly introduce patterns on the calendar.  To do this, I provide apple cards for the calendar -- 

As the calendar starts to fill with apple cards, someone always notices that they make a color pattern.  Gotta love those "Aha!" moments!  Once that realization has been achieved, my students have a new challenge at calendar time:  predict what color the apple will be today.  

My first graders really get into this.  So naturally, I have to up the ante with the next month.  October brings autumn leaves --

The first few days of October are such fun as the children try to predict what the pattern will be.  By the 5th of October, the pattern becomes clear.  However, I'm not finished with the predictions...  Now my students have to predict such details as what kind of leaf it is, which direction the stem will point, is the leaf right side up or upside down...  

Common Core Standards are being addressed.  Visual discrimination is enhanced. Teaching time is being maximized.  Students are engaged and having fun.  Try it; you'll like it!

You can get both of these sets of calendar cards for FREE in my TpT store or TN shop.  If you like adding more content to your calendar activities, I have another product that offers icons for the entire year. 

Update 7/2015:
I have just added a new product that provides Calendar Icons in a forest friends theme.  Check it out!
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Poetry Anthologies

For some time, I have been blogging about poetry anthologies.  Many of you have responded, saying you are going to try poetry notebooks or anthologies this year.  Good for you!  
To help you get started, here's a poem I like to use for the 1st page of my students' anthologies.

This lighthearted poem implants the idea that poetry is fun; it makes you dance; it becomes a part of you.  I can't think of a better way to introduce poetry to students!  

Until next time. . .

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pinterest Price Dilemna

I had the good fortune to read Laura Candler's blog post about price tags on Pinterest.  In a nutshell, it seems unwise to put a price on items you pin because you may run a sale or change the price.  Laura suggests just putting $ on priced items to let pinners know it's not a freebie.  Laura's idea sounds great to me!  You can read her entire post here.  Thanks Laura!

End-of-summer, back to school, or out of this world...whatever you want to call the sale frenzy we are all in, I'm joining it!  Check out my Teachers Notebook shop.  

This sale is for EVERYTHING in my Teachers Notebook shop.  This sale lasts until 8/31/12.  Hurry on over!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sneak into a New School Year -- Pt. 5

It's about time, teachers... to finish up Sneaker Day.

It's never too early to start your class writing stories.  For Sneaker Day, bring in an old, worn out, holey pair of sneakers.  Write a story as a whole class, giving the sneakers a history from the day they were made until today. 

Older and/or more capable students could write a chapter a day, giving you, the teacher, the opportunity to model writing traits and to "think out loud" as you record their ideas. Younger and/or less capable students could write a simple story about who wore the sneakers, where they have traveled, how the sneakers got their holes, etc.  Again, acting as the recorder, the teacher should model her thinking as she write the children's ideas.

Another activity for Sneaker Day is to give each child a blank sneaker outline.

Ask them to design a new sneaker that is especially for school children.  What would they include in their special sneaker?  A calculator?  A ruler?  A computer?  A pencil sharpener? . . .  Extend this activity by having the students write about their sneaker's features.

Hopefully, you can use these Sneaker Day ideas to get your new school year off on the right foot!

If you liked these Sneaker Day activities, you may wish to download a copy of the them for FREE on TpT.
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