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Friday, April 17, 2015

Patriots' Day - April 20

Patriots' Day commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Those battles were fought on April 19, 1775. Interestingly, April 19 also marks the 1st bloodshed of the Civil War in the Baltimore Riot of 1861. Since 1969, this holiday has been celebrated on the 3rd Monday of April. Do not confuse the day with that which remembers 9/11/2001. That day is Patriot Day.  

It seems that Patriots' Day is most celebrated in Mass. and Maine. However, across the U.S., teachers and students are encouraged to recognize the day. To that end, you may enjoy these activities . . .

Patriotic Squares Critical Thinking (a.k.a. Latin Squares) are square arrays in which items fill the cells in such a way that no item is used more than once in each row and column.  (Think Sudoku)

Use these squares to exercise deductive reasoning while disguising it as fun. It includes 4 levels of difficulty ranging from a 3x3 array to a 6x6 array. The 3x3 array has 12 possible solutions; the 4x4 array has 576 permutations! Thus, this activity will challenge even the most gifted and talented students, allows for differentiation with ease, and works perfectly in centers and for fast finishers.  It is appropriate for all elementary grade levels. I've even had reports of adults becoming entranced by the puzzles.

Scrattle: Patriotic Edition is a FREE resource that combines word work with computation; individual effort with competition. This SCRAbble baTTLE also provides 3 levels of difficulty, thereby facilitating differentiation. It, too, spans the abilities of students in K-5 classrooms. Use it in a math or literacy center, as an anchor activity, and/or for fast finishers. Students use a set of letters to create as many words as they can, then compute the worth of their words using Scrabble (TM) values. The battle portion invites them to compare their words' worth to a friends' using simple addition, multiplication, or complex equations with mixed operations.  

Inasmuch as every president is a patriot, you may also be interested in Presidential Trivia Task Cards. These 20 task cards will exercise your students' research skills, both digitally and traditionally.  Use them in a research center, as an anchor activity, for enrichment, and/or as a challenge for fast finishers.

Enjoy Patriots' Day!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Farm Centers for Your Classroom

In the spring, farms come to life as crops are planted and baby animals are born.  It's an exciting time down on the farm!  Bring some of that excitement to your classroom with these farm centers...

  • Down on the Farm Syllable Sort Literacy Center is perfect for K-2 classrooms. 18 word/ picture cards can be sorted by the number of syllables. All of the words are farm related, thereby increasing your students' vocabularies. This center also includes a recording sheet and labels for your center folder.

  • Ducks in a Row is a literacy center that gives Pre-K - 1st grade students practice with print concepts and phonological awareness.  Each duck puzzle has 3 parts: 1 with a picture, 1 bearing the upper case letter with which the picture starts, and 1 with the corresponding lower case letter.
    There is 1 duck for each letter of the alphabet. Consonant bearing ducks are white and utilize the primary sound of that letter (no soft consonant sounds are used). Yellow ducks present the vowels and utilize the long sound of the vowel.

  • Tractor Races Math Center provides practice with number sense and 1-to-1 correspon-dence for Pre-K-1 students. Increase the difficulty by providing a pair of dice.  Students will then move their game pieces according to the sum of the dice.

  • Egg Equations are CCSS aligned for grade K-3. Students will make true equations in their quest to master basic addition and subtraction facts. Gather plastic eggs and fill each one with the equation components. Students will use the components to construct equations appropriate to their abilities. Thus, differentiation is inherent.

  • Barnyard Tangrams provide 10 farm animal puzzles in 2 formats. These puzzles are great for visual discrimination and developing spatial relationships. They also provide experience with geometric shapes and improve problem solving skills. 

  • Farm Animal Idioms provide 31 idioms about farm animals. These cards are lovely in literacy centers, super for small group instruction, perfect for partners, ideal for individuals, and great for a variety of games. They are also excellent for ELL and speech therapy students. These idiom cards are aligned with CCSS for grades 3 - 5.

  • Egg Idioms Book challenges your 3rd - 5th grade students to create a booklet about 17 egg idioms. (BTW, these idioms have no references to Easter or Easter eggs.) After discussing the meanings of idioms, challenge your students to create illustrations of the literal meanings. Their efforts can be compiled into a booklet.

Happy spring, y'all. I hope you find some center seeds to grow in your classroom.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

More Springsational Poetry

In my quest to inspire passion about poetry, I have 3 more springsational poems for you to try.
  • Engage your students in writing a 5 senses poem about spring.  After identifying the 5 senses, challenge your students to describe spring by writing 1 line for each sense.  You can make it a super easy task by giving them a template for their poems, such as this:
    • I see ______________
    • I hear ________________
    • I smell _________________
    • I feel _______________
    • I taste _________________         
Here's an example:
      • Spring
      • I see the bright sun shining.
      • I hear the baby birds chirping.
      • I smell the garden flowers blooming.
      • I feel the warm breeze passing.
      • I taste the gentle rain that is falling.
Writing 5 senses poems provides a perfect opportunity to highlight adjectives and present participle verbs.  

  • We all know that April showers bring May flowers, so during this month dedicated to poetry, rain seems to be an appropriate subject. Hence, try writing Umbrella Poems about rain with your class. (I suggest you provide an umbrella shape for your students' writings, thereby enhancing the shape poem.) The format is easy:
    • Line 1 - Write 1 word related to rain.
    • Line 2 - Write 2 words that describe line 1.
    • Line 3 - Write 3 words that tell how line 1 sounds.  (Think onomatopoeia)  
    • Line 4 - Write 4 words that tell what line 1 does.  (This may or may not be a sentence.)
    • Line 5 - Repeat the word in line 1, writing it vertically in the handle.

  • Tongue twister couplets are tons of fun to write and even more fun to read aloud. Create the first line of the couplet using spring thematic words that begin with the same sound.  The 2nd line should also be a tongue twister about the same topic, however, it may contain words that begin with a different sound. As per traditional couplets, the 2 lines should rhyme and a similar rhythm pattern is desirable. Provide access to a dictionary and/or thesaurus to assist your students' efforts. Then have students trade tongue twisters, challenging each other to read them without getting their tongues twisted. Here's an example:
    • Ten terrible tornadoes tore through the town.
    • The storms shattered shelters, shook shops, and struck steeples down.
Have fun!

Perfect poetry products picked for you:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Springsational Poetry Activities

April is National Poetry Month and I would love to share my passion for poetry with you.

Try some of these Springsational Poetry activites:

  • Collaborative poetry is a fun way to use poetry in your classroom. It can be done with the entire class or in small groups. Each student will write 1 sentence about spring on a sentence strip. Give your students a prompt, such as 1 of those listed below. Collect all of the sentence strips and mount them on one large piece of poster paper.  Invite students to illustrate around the poem and display it for everyone to enjoy. Prompts:
    • It's a sure sign that it's spring when...
    • The best thing about spring is...
    • Spring is the best season because...
    • The worst thing about spring is...
    • Spring weather...
    • One spring day, I ...     You get the idea!
  • Acrostic poems are always fun and leave the poets free from the need to create rhymes and rhythm. This can be an individual or collaborative effort. Begin by brainstorming a list of spring words, encouraging students to think in extensions; that is, going into more depth on vocabulary. Use word webs on the board to accomplish this (illustration below). Once you have a nice variety of terms, allow students to choose one of the word web words to use for their acrostic. I often have students circle the word on the board that they are going to use, writing their name or initials by it. If you have enough words, each student can use a different one.  If not, you may wish to impose a limit on the number of children who can choose the same word. Then set them loose to create their acrostic poems (example below).

If you are passionate about poetry (or at least enthusiastic), your students will find that feeling is contagious.

Check out these poetry products borne of my passion (how's that for poetic writing?):