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Showing posts with label activities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label activities. Show all posts

Hands-on, cross-curricular (and fun) lesson plans on Covid 19 pandemic and masks

Many schools require students to wear PPE (personal protection equipment) masks and as a survivor of Covid 19 (coronavirus), I heartily applaud this initiative! Unfortunately, some parents object to mandatory mask-wearing and that can make for problems in classrooms. So how do you as the teacher diffuse tensions while still complying with Covid 19 mask mandates? From 30 years of effective parent-teacher interaction, I advise you to avoid confrontation and make it fun with creative, positive activities to encourage students to wear masks. Here are crafts, games, printables and activities to give mask wearing a "facelift" (LOL)! 

Teach preschool and special needs students to overcome fear of masks by putting masks on stuffed animals and puppets. Talk to children through puppets or animal friends. Explain why they are wearing a mask and how easy it is! Take the mask off and show that the friend is no different with or without it. Let children ask questions. You can also use puppets to teach hand washing, social distancing and other disease prevention activities. 

Use free printable Covid 19 lesson plans to explore coronavirus and why we wear masks to protect against it. PBS offers great resources on PPE masks. Make these printables into health science lesson plans. There's a lot of data-based content which is useful in math lesson plans. Students might graph and chart which PPE masks are most effective. Cincinnati Children's has several educational videos to help younger children understand coronavirus. Kids Health has a plethora of free printable Covid 19 activities for health science lesson plans. PBS also has lesson plans on the 1918 influenza outbreak (often referred to wrongly as the Spanish flu)

Read children's literature books on pandemics, epidemics and other outbreak diseases. Here's a list written just for the coronavirus pandemic. The blog Semicolon lists books about plagues, epidemics and outbreaks of diseases like Bubonic plague, "Black Death", 1918 influenza pandemic, cholera, smallpox, polio, measles, typhoid and others. Compare and contrast the 1918 influenza and Covid 19. But focus on the positives, such as all the resources, like PPE, better access to clean water, knowledge of hand-washing, vaccines and clearer understanding of germs that we have now compared to then. 

Dress in a masked superhero costume like Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Ninja, Power Rangers (include a PPE mask). Ask kids if they find your face mask scary. (They'll most likely say NO!) In fact they probably think your mask is cool. Now explain that wearing a mask to avoid getting sick or making others sick with Covid 19 or other diseases is even cooler. Explain why it's important to stay safe and how to do that.

Have a poster making bee to encourage mask-wearing. Print coloring pages of superheroes, Disney characters, animals, favorite book or cartoon characters wearing masks.  Or have children create their own with catchy, fun slogans. Display in class or along the halls. Leave them up for conferences. 

Use "Glitter germs" science experiments show how germs and diseases are spread and why hand-washing as well as mask wearing is so important. The Indianapolis Children's Museum gives easy science experiments and games with glitter to demonstrate. Here are more science experiments from Mark Rober's Youtube channel to explore germ transmission in classrooms. 

Decorate your own DIY masks: Get a bunch of kid-sized plain white cotton masks or paper hospital style masks. Bust out the bling, sequins, pom-poms, yarn, ribbon, rick-rack, sewing notions, beads and charms. Using large needles and yarn, glue dots or staples, help students decorate their masks. Older students can practice sewing with regular needle and thread. Provide non-washable Crayola type markers (not permanent as they are more toxic) to draw pictures or write messages. Use these free printable coloring pages to print your favorite superhero, animal, Disney or cartoon character and use the printables in mask-making. These make great arts and crafts lesson plans. 

Explore mask-making and wearing among other cultures in social studies lesson plans. Research mask wearing for religious, social and cultural expression. Here are free printable social studies lesson plans on mask-making. Here are more free printable social studies lessons on masks. 

The lesson plans on plagues can be kind of depressing, so don't dwell too long on them. And be sure to end with fun, positive lesson plans. 



DIY nature science detective kit for hands-on science exploration


Looking for back to school activities for kids? Here are nature science lesson plans. Make nature detective kits to explore wildlife science concepts. Use this activity to welcome kids back to school. Kids will love playing nature CSI investigators! Homeschooling parents will love this inexpensive, hands-on science lesson because all ages can participate, from toddler to high school! 

You will need one of each of these items per student:

--large gallon size zipper bag or cheap carry-all bag to store supplies

--plastic magnifying glass (available in bulk at Great Party, Party America or Oriental Trading)

--cheap one-subject notebook

--pocket folder ($.05 -$.15 each from Walmart, Staples, Target)

--plastic disposable gloves (choose latex free; give each student one pair)

--tweezers or cotton swabs (both would be useful, but use cotton swabs to save money)

--3 or 4 specimen bags (snack size Zip-Loc)

--3-4 larger specimen bags (sandwich size Zip-loc)

--sheet of label stickers

--pen and pencil

-- roll of invisible Scotch tape

--several pieces of yarn or string

--box of crayons ($.25 at back-to-school sales)

--measuring tape (Printable-Ruler has a free printable measuring tape )

--free printable animal tracks cards (from Exploration America) Extend these nature science activities for kids into craft projects by having students cut and paste their own flash cards. 

--free printable Animal Signs Guide from US Fisheries and Wildlife www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Animal%20Signs%20Guide.pdf You can download directly from here as a PDF. Check here for more animal tracking printables

How to Use Nature Detective Kits:

Make kit assembly part of the lesson. Set out supplies in stations and give students gallon zipper bag and supplies list. This provides experience in counting, sorting and organizing. Using stickers, kids label notebook: Investigator (name)____________ or Detective (name)____________. Label bags: Exhibit A, B, C or Evidence. As evidence is collected, data and date should be added. For example: 'beetle exoskeleton 9-3-2021.

Go on nature investigation hunts around your neighborhood, school playground or camp. Assign students different items to investigate, native to your area. Students should not keep living specimens, but they might bring a bug box to temporarily house and examine a living critter. Look for evidence of living creatures: bug carcasses, exoskeletons, fallen leaves, feathers, owl pellets, seed pods, rocks, fallen nest, bits of animal fur, bark samples, plants, flowers and rocks. Use nitryl gloves to collect specimens. Warn kids not to pick up insect nests or other potentially dangerous items. Rather have them sketch items in situ. 

Have students draw living creatures, homes and habitats: spider's web, bird's nest, wasp's nest, rabbit hole, ant hill, scat (animal droppings). Students should record when and where they observed it. Students shouldn't touch but may observe scat(animal droppings) or dead animal remains.

In class, have children discuss and hypothesize on findings at their level of reasoning. Students might create a natural history museum displaying what they have found. Students can act as young docent guides, explaining discoveries to visitors. This makes a superb activity for parent-teacher conferences, which come early in the year before teachers have had time to collect much student work. It's ideal for summer camp, too. 

#printables #naturescience #animaltracking




Free math facts homework kit with Montessori-based, student-made activities and printables


<---Teacher Omi (grandma) has been having fun re-creating lesson plans for the grandkiddos, from materials made over my nearly 40-yr career in education. Today I'm sharing how to make a math homework practice kit I created 35 years ago and used with my Montessori students, tutoring students and in homeschool. I even trotted this out when I taught adult education. I've given you some of the activities here and for the full set of lesson plans, visit me at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

For the math homework kit, begin with a sturdy shoebox and fill it with:

Dice  Repurpose die from game sets with missing pieces. Or pick up a cheap set from Dollar Tree.

Set of dominoes (base 12 preferred) Students can also make domino flash cards on index cards. Write domino dot configuration in number color from chart. To play, student selects a domino and adds, subtracts or multiplies the two numbers.  Students should write answers on back for self-checking. Here are free printable dominoes from First-School. https://first-school.ws/theme/printables/dominoes-math.htm

Deck of playing cards  Student chooses two cards and adds, subtracts, or multiplies them. Face cards are valued as such: ace-1, jack-10, queen, 12 and king-0.  You can print playing cards from Printable Board Games https://www.printableboardgames.net/preview/Playing_Card_Deck  or have students design their own! 

Math flashcards for each fact family Purchase at Dollar Tree or discount store or better yet, use free printable math flashcards from First School https://first-school.ws/theme/printables/flash-cards/numbers-shapes.htm.


Tablet of small stickers, shape punches or mini-stamper marker—Students create flashcards by writing math facts (problems) in color code on one side. On the back, they illustrate with  punched-out shapes, stickers or stamps (5 stars plus 5 stars, for example). They write the answer on the back.

Pencil, eraser and scrap paper squares—students write out fact families (say the nine times tables). Then they draw story problems to illustrate and quiz each other. For example, the student draws three groups of seven apples for 3x7. Þ Toddlers draw marks and practice counting.

100 chart and bingo marker or dry erase marker Laminate and attach to the inside lids of the math kit. Student uses bingo marker to practice skip counting by different numbers. From there, she memorizes multiplication tables (which are just the series of number in skip counting). The 100 chart helps the student find number patterns, too. Þ Toddlers bingo “stamp” each number as they count.

Yarn strung with 100 plastic beads. This homemade abacus is a great visual for math operations. Give student a problem, like 7x8.  She counts out and adds seven groups of eight. Þ Give toddlers large beads to string, for fine motor skill practice. 

Food snacks with little pieces. Students use fish crackers, fruit snacks, breakfast cereal, raisins, candies, pretzels, marshmallows, to demonstrate math facts and equations. Let children make their own trail mix and write the recipe as math problems. (6 raisins + 10 pretzels + 5 Cheerios +3 Cheez-Its).  When done, they get to eat the treats!


Disney "Frozen" snacks: Elsa, Anna, Olaf the Snowman themed party treats

Disney "Frozen" has taken the world by storm (snowstorm, that is!) so what better theme than Disney Frozen for a children's winter party? But it's the middle of summer, you protest! Well all the better! Cool off with these Disney Frozen treats and party snacks, inspired by Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, Kristoff and Sven and Olaf the Snowman. Use free printable Frozen coloring pages to create party decor. Here are more free printable Frozen activities for party planner use. Make these into lesson plans as craft snacks for hands-on Frozen fun. 

Chili Elsa: Here’s a beverage to warm the coldest of ice queens. It's a less-gruesome, non-alcoholic Bloody Mary to honor Queen Elsa. Serve warm or cold. Season V-8 vegetable juice with cumin, oregano, basil and celery seed. Garnish with celery or carrot sticks, green, yellow or orange pepper spears or lime wedge. Create cucumber-grape tomato bowties. Make radial cuts in cucumber slices. Place one end on toothpick, then a grape tomato. Twist cuke and stick to other side. Add Tabasco sauce to taste. Children will love making this craft snack themselves. 

Princess Anna Kindergluwein: This Scandinavian/German beverage has been enjoyed by children in frozen climes for generations. And Princess Anna celebrates the eternal joy of childhood! Simmer apple cider or apple juice and add fruit juice (any flavor, cranberry, orange, lemonade, grape). Add raisins or currants, cloves, lemon and lime slices and cinnamon sticks. Make orange strawberry bowties as you did the cucumber one for the Chili Elsa. 

Silly Sangria for Olaf the Snowman: Olaf the Snowman is too young for real sangria and too easily meltable for hot drinks, so make his kindergluwein slushed or "frozen" (pun intended). Mix grape juice, lemonade or orange juice, clear soda and sliced oranges, lemons and limes. Serve with star-shaped ice cubes. 

Princess Anna Snowballs: Even Queen Elsa will love these snow treats! So let kids help make snowballs for a great craft snack. Melt marshmallows and add popped popcorn. Have kids rub light margarine on hands and form popcorn (snow) balls. Roll in sprinkles if desired. 

Olaf the Snowman party recipes. Do you want to build a snowman? Maybe Queen Elsa can't help, but kids can build one with Princess Anna. Make popcorn snowballs using recipes above. Form them in different sizes: small for his head, medium for middle, large for Olaf the Snowman base. Use raisins for buttons and chocolate chips for eyes. Use matchstick or baby carrots for nose. Cut Twizzlers, Fruit Leather or Fruit Roll-Up for scarf and smile. Use Chiklets gum for teeth and pretzel sticks for arms. 

For a traditional snowman like Frosty, add candy corn cob pipe. Place round chocolate candy like Brach’s Star on head for a hat.. For “stovepipe hat" affix gumdrop, Hershey’s Kiss, or Reese’s Peanut Butter cup with dab of frosting. 

Princess Anna snowshoe cookies: Frost Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies with vanilla frosting. Sprinkle with clear, white, silver or blue sugar crystals. Rest cookies on sprinkles to look like snowshoes in snow. 

Princess Anna ski pole cookies: Poke pretzel sticks in mini marshmallows (or pretzel rods in large marshmallows) Warm vanilla frosting in microwave. Dip marshmallows in frosting, then dip in colored sprinkles. 

Kristoff’s Kool Kocoa party recipes: Heat milk on stove and add chocolate syrup. Add colored marshmallows (snowballs). Use ski pole pretzel cookies for swizzle sticks. For healthier swizzle sticks, dip pretzels in peanut butter and roll in powdered milk. Stir Kristoff's Kool Kocoa with candy cane if you have any left from Christmas. 

Sweet Princess Anna stirring spoons. Melt chocolate, butterscotch, mint and peanut butter chips in separate dishes. Dip plastic spoon in melted chips then roll in colored sprinkles, crushed cookies or candies. Allow to harden. Kristoff's Kool Kocoa will warm Queen Elsa and the Princess Anna stirring spoons will sweeten her frosty disposition. 

Princess Anna Arctic Adventure Cake. Frost vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. Add blue or white sprinkles. Place snowshoe cookies on top to look like a snowshoe trail. Add a few ski pole cookies. Have kids make standup Disney Frozen character dolls from Disney Frozen free printables. Scroll down for Disney Frozen games, puzzles and crafts for party games. Click here for free Frozenprintables for party decorations and crafts. Here are more free printable Disney Frozen coloring pages as party activities, decorations, games, crafts or placemats.  

Free printable Peter Rabbit bunny crafts for Beatrix Potter story party or Easter party



Several bunnies visit us each night. They call to mind our many beloved books about rabbits: Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, Peter Cottontail, "The Velveteen Rabbit", "The Runaway Bunny", Easter bunny stories, Richard Scarry's "The Bunny Book", I am a Bunny" E.B. (from Disney "HOP") "Guess How Much I Love You?" the bunny from "Goodnight Moon" and more!  And being a former teacher and homeschool parent, and now an education blogger and second generation homeschool Omi (grama), I always think educational lesson plans. 

In keeping with my story party theme, here are bunny book party ideas and rabbit themed lesson plans. I've included free printables, bunny crafts, rabbit themed snacks and games based on Beatrix Potter stories and other books about rabbits.  You could use them for a Beatrix Potter or Peter Rabbit story party, Easter party or as preschool-early elementary activities. I've included cross-curricular activities for lesson plans. Homeschool parents, I know you need ways to engage all age students. So have older kids read "Watership Down." Then they can have an excuse to do these rabbit crafts! And as always, olders should help the little ones for extra learning cred! 

Preschool reading activities: Have children collect all their rabbit stuffed animals and toys. Don't forget Rabbit from Winnie-the-Pooh or Thumper from Bambi. Bring animals friends to the story party! Remember to make the pillow pile I mentioned in an earlier post. Children will listen better if they can snuggle up with their cuddle toys. For very lil uns, read stories just before bed. 

Preschool dress up activities: Printable animal masks from Classroom Jr. Everything is more fun when you're in costume. So let's start by making a printable bunny mask. Here are more animal printables from First Palette. Print on plain paper and transfer to recycled cereal box cardboard to make the mask more durable. 

Rabbit crafts: Vintage Easter Bunny crafts Now that kids are properly attired for the story party, let's make some Easter baskets and greeting cards. You don't have to wait for Easter to make Easter crafts and they lend themselves well to Peter Rabbit and Peter Cottontail stories. The Toymaker (link above) has free printable egg baskets, bunny cards and an

Rabbit games: Play the egg roll game (like they play on the White House lawn) included on the Toymaker link. (Grandson Moses, I foresee a lot of fun playing this with you!) 

Volunteer and Community activities: Make greeting cards from the Toymaker link. Fill baskets with rabbit themed treats (listed below) and share with a neighbor, senior, someone who is sick or disabled. Wear your bunny mask, of course! It doesn't have to be Easter to bring some bunny luv! 

Dramatic play and fine motor activities: Make these cut and paste 3D Paper Bunny Crafts and then use them to act out stories after reading them. Pass out baby carrots for theater snacks! Homeschool parents, engage the baby by making her the audience and theatre critic!  

Art lesson plans: Paper Bunny Toy Mania DL-TK, those wonderfully crafty folk, have a blowout of Easter bunny coloring pages, masks, paper ears, stand-up toys, pop up crafts and much more. I love how easy these are to make. Perfect for preschool, toddlers, babies and special needs children who need no-fail activities. (Grandson Ezra, I look forward to seeing you in rabbit ears, sir!) 

Math and literature activities: Peter Rabbit and The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams) has a page on Making Friends. It's part of a complete page of free printable bunny-based coloring pages, games, puzzles, dot-to-dot, count by number and other activities. Grandsons Milo and Lucian (the twos) you'll like the felt board games and felt board pattern printables. First School has an educational Peter Rabbit unit with learning games, literature activities, writing prompts and stories. 

Writing Activities: Use free printable Peter Rabbit coloring pages to create a booklet and then tell the story in their own words. Or they might use generic rabbit coloring pages to make up their own bunny book! Best idea of all is to assign children to design their own rabbit, give her a name and make up adventures for her! (Silas, I know you'll like this one!) 

Bunny treats AKA snack craft (Granddaughter Lola, just for you, girlfriend!) 

You'll need:

--Hostess Twinkies or Sno Balls (coconut covered marshmallow cakes) or Dolly Madison Zingers or

unfrosted cupcakes

--Handi-Snacks Oreos Dunk'Ems or white frosting

--oval cookies (Nutter Butter) or ladyfingers or graham cracker sticks, or pretzels. 

--pink frosting

--red jellybeans

--coconut

--square gum pellets like Chiklets or Trident cut in half

--miniature marshmallows

To make bunny teats, 

1) open Handi-Snacks and use cookies to frost cupcake or Twinkie. Or use knife or popsicle stick and plain frosting. If using pre-frosted Zingers or Sno Balls, skip to step three. 

2) Sprinkle frosted cake immediately with shredded coconut. 

3) Spread pink frosting on cookies or crackers for ears. If using pretzels, dip in pink frosting. Insert cookie "ears" in cake. 

4) Insert two jellybeans for eyes and two gum pellets for teeth. Attach marshmallows with frosting for tail.

Science snack craft: Discuss where rabbits live (in warrens under the ground) and what they eat (herbivores eat plants, leaves, vegetables). Review Peter Rabbit and what he liked in Mr. Macgregor's garden--lettuces, French beans (green string beans), radishes and then parsley for his sick tummy. The other bunnies ate blackberries. 

Collect various kinds of garden vegetables: carrots, broccoli, lettuce, beans, pea pods, cauliflower, peppers, cucumbers and celery. Include some less familiar ones: parsnips, scallions, endive, mustard greens. Set out a tray of herbs for sensory exploration. Let children herbs and vegetables. Have them touch, smell and taste and describe them. Then let them prep them for a veggie tray to enjoy. Or they might make vegetable soup. 



Animal costume patterns for craft projects, dress up, learning centers


Dress up is a crucial part of learning play in preschool classrooms and Montessori learning centers. If you homeschool, dress up should be part of your practical life, dramatic play and even science learning centers. The more hands-on and interactive the lesson plans, the better children learn. 

My most recent post gave ideas for a children's literature book party. One book party activity is for children to dress up as characters from books. Here are ideas to make simple, no-sew DIY animal costumes, using your recycle bin and some basic household scraps. These are perfect for preschool science learning centers, kids plays, story party activities and children's theater. Get more Montessori bang by having children create costumes themselves. Click here for free printable animal costume patterns. 

For basic animal costumes, you will need. 

* blanket sleeper (zippered pajamas with covered feet). Use an old one or pick one up second hand. Choose sleeper color based on the type of animals it will be used for:

--green: frog, dinosaur, gecko, snake, lizard, dragon, caterpillar, parrot

--yellow or tan: baby chick, tiger, leopard, lion

--red: ladybug, bird, fox

--pink: pig, shrimp, flamingo

--black, brown, white or gray: cat, dog, donkey, horse, cow, squirrel, raccoon, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, penguin, spider, groundhog, woodchuck, chipmunk

--orange, blue or purple: bird, fish, butterfly

* knit hat in matching color

* five old socks in matching colors

* recycled cardboard from cereal boxes or packaging

* glue dots or self-stick Vel-cro

* sharp scissors

* assorted fabric scraps, pom-poms, feathers, faux gems, ribbon, sequins (optional)

Now

* Draw design details with permanent marker on sleeper: lines, circles, stripes, spots wings etc.

* Use glue dots or Vel-cro to add embellishments to sleeper: sequins or faux gems are great for fish scales or birds. Glue faux feathers on for bird wings. Glue ribbon on for stripes. Pom-poms can be fish scales or hair on curly-haired puppies.

* On two socks (or old old knit gloves) draw black lines on toe ends simulate paws or claws. Draw circles on the palm to look like paw pads (socks make great improvised mittens).

* Stuff one sock with recycled rags for a tail. Sew it to the back of the sleep or hot glue it on. You can also glue a large pom pom on the back for a fuzzy tail.

* Make ears using the remaining two socks and the knit hat. Stuff the socks halfway full of scrap fabric. Cut two small holes in the hat for ears. Push open ends of socks through holes and tie knots in ends so socks won't slip through hole.

Montessori says lesson plans should allow children maximum creativity in open-ended, hands-on, interactive activities. Encourage them to make up their own designs for animal costumes. You could make these in collage or art learning centers also. Once children have made costumes they might write their own scripts for plays about their characters. They might also act out preschool children's literature selections based on animals. 

Here are free printable animal masks to complete costumes. Engage the youngest learners making masks, to keep them productively involved and make them feel part of the activity. 

Story party ideas for children's literature based lesson plans: snacks, games, crafts


Psst, homeschool parents, want wow-worthy lesson plans for all ages? How about book-based story parties! A story or book party is suuuper easy to organize and costs next to nothing, compliments of your recycle bin, library bookshelf, snack cupboard, free printables and child ingenuity! Kids can do almost all the planning themselves, thereby getting some extra learning cred! Or you can throw an impromptu book party anytime the spirit moves! Here's how to do a story party (with children's literature crafts, snacks, games and cross-curricular connections)--for ages pre-K to middle school, any occasion--and why you should! 

For the impromptu kind, simply announce a book party. Is the weather wet or too cold or hot? Got a sick kid or three? Or maybe everyone's just a leetle crabby. Perfect story party time! Take an hour or two off and read to kids. Turn off the phone, computer, music and television. 

For the planned kind, like for a children's birthday party, choose a literature-based theme--adventure, mystery, vehicles, nature, animals-- and let each child choose several of their favorite books, if pre-K to first grade, or one for older kids. Or keep it open-ended. Or follow the unit theme for the week. You'll be amazed at how students can draw literature based connections between books. Themes might be nursery rhymes, fairy tales, fantasy (even older kids will love this).

Decorate the house. Put energetic kids to work making storybook based decorations of scenes from kids stories. You can get really crazy and decorate the entire house on your book theme.  My now-grown son did this with his college roommates for a Dr. Seuss themed going-away party. They decorated rooms in different biomes: mountains, desert, rainforest. Click this link for for free printable kids book crafts from DL-TK. 

Make costumes and let kids dress up (it is a party after all!). Just use your dress up bin. No need for anything fancy. The point is for kids to use their imagination and create their own. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on easy, DIY, no sew costumes. Here are links for free printable masks (perfect for the youngest learners!)

Make a pillow pile (crucial step). Pile the couch and floor with pillows and blankets. Invite stuffed animal friends. Kids enjoy getting snuggly, especially if they're not feeling well. My children and now grandchildren LOOOVVEE Omi's pillow pile story parties! They've developed a somewhat gestalt cult following LOL! 

Make book-based crafts. Don't buy anything. Don't even plan ahead. This is where your children's fabulously inventive minds get to cut loose. Task kids with planning craft projects based on the books you read. For printable crafts and craft project ideas, have them Google the name of the book plus crafts (for example "Harry Potter crafts"). Set out the recycle bin, crafts supplies and decorative collage items. 

Act out the story. Have kids write a script based on the book and then create costumes, props and scenery. This could take several days to a week. Provide dress-up clothes, bedding, towels, boxes, camping furniture and craft supplies. Just use what you have. The old blanket over chairs works great! Your recycle bin is a good resource for scenery. 

Make up interactive games to play at the book party. The best book-based game formats are scavenger or treasure hunts (with child-drawn treasure maps), LARP (live-action role play) and choose-your-own adventure. You can also make life-size board games based on books you read. Trouble, Monopoly, Clue or Chutes and Ladders work well as formats. For example, if reading The Hardy Boys, make up a Clue game on the book. 

Make snacks. Ask kids to think up snack and story pairings to. Make foods listed in kids stories, such as Little House in the Big Woods (cornbread) or The Boxcar Children (vegetable soup). Some, like American Girls, have accompanying cookbooks or recipes listed in the back. We once had a vintage Winnie-the-Pooh party with haycorn (pecan) pie, succotash (squash) and honey cake. But again, don't buy anything special. Half the fun is seeing the creative literature connections they come up with. Let them experiment. Oh and you must serve "coffee" (chocolate milk) or "tea" (juice) in fancy teacups like grownups do at their book clubs. Kids love pretending to be adults. 

Keep kids engaged.  Preschoolers and special needs children might illustrate kids stories they hear. Let kids draw and color while they listen. This keeps fidgety ones busy. Also mix up reading with activity. If they're getting bored, do something else. Fit the party to the child, not the child to the party. Don't make is too schoolish. Keep the focus on fun. Children who like writing might write a journal entry about the storybook.

Here are my children's and grandchildren's book recommendations. Harry Potter (thank you, Molly), "The Chronicles of Narnia" (a personal favorite), Arthur from PBS (Emma's fave), "Aesop's Fables" and "Grimm's Fairy Tales" (Jake's suggestion), "Mike Mulligan" (husband's suggestion) "The Hobbit" (Albert's contribution), Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss, Bible stories, superhero stories (grandsons Moses and Silas, this one's for you!) Disney princess stories (granddaughter Lola, lookin' at you here), Eric Carle books (Lucian, this one's yours!), Thomas the Tank Engine (for you, Milo) and baby Ezra's Pooh Bear But that's only the beginning! 


Free printable Scrabble games and homemade Scrabble and Boggle word games


Looking for hands-on spelling lesson plans? Here's a fun, easy DIY language arts game to make using homemade Scrabble or Boggle dice. Use manipulatives with preschool through high school, in reading, writing and spelling activities. Here are free printable Scrabble games plus instructions for a homemade word game I call Babble (Scrabble plus Boggle). The site gives free printable Scrabble tiles if you want to play the traditional game too! 

I love the word games Boggle and Scrabble in which players make words from random letters. Both Scrabble and Boggle are superb word games for spelling and reading practice. So I invented a game called Babble, that combines the scoring of Scrabble with the letter mix-up of Boggle. Use with the free printable games I've linked to, in reading lesson plans, spelling games and writing activities. Here's how to make and play Babble.  

You will need

12 dice: Recycle die from old games like Kismet or Yahtzee.
Dice can be purchased at almost any store for under $2).

Permanent markers

Blank stickers (round or square white stickers are best)

Note pad

small pencils

watch or timer

small box


To make Babble: (Scrabble plus Boggle)

Affix a sticker to each of the six sides of the die.

Label each die side with a different letter. With 12 dice times six sides you will have room for 72 letters. Since some letters are more popular, label dice this way. It makes no difference where on the dice you put which letters, Just be sure to get this many letters in.

  -four times each, letters: A, E, I, O, U, R, S, T, L, N

  -three times each letters: B, C, D, F, G, H, M, P

  -one time each, letters: J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, Z

  -dictionary to check spelling


To play Scraggle:


Distribute pencils and pads. Players take turns shaking box with letter dice, to rearrange.

Player open box and make sure all dice are flat and showing letters.

Time players for three to five minutes, to see how many words they can make with letters showing.


Scoring is as follows: 

  -3 letter words = 5 points

  -4 letter words = 10 points

  -5 letter words = 20 points

  -6 letter words = 50 points

  -7 letter words = 100 points

  -8 letter words = 200 points

Players should check each others words for accuracy.

Use the free printable spelling worksheets plus this game for learning on the go! Do spelling lesson plans in the car, at the store, on a place, while waiting in line; anywhere you go it goes. 



Free printable Anzac Day lesson plans on WWI, Australia, New Zealand, Gallipoli military history


April 25 commemorates Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand. It's akin to Veteran's Day, or as it was originally called Armistice Day in that it honors WWI Anzacs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). However Anzac Day falls on April 25, to recognize the landing at Gallipoli, in 1915. As with Veterans Day, the holiday has been expanded to honor all who served, suffered or died, in any conflict, war or peace-keeping operation. 

Here are free printable history lesson plans from New Zealand History, to help students understand the significance of Anzac forces in World War I, not just to Australia and New Zealand but to the entire world. This site has activities and information on the Maori Battalion. 28th Maori Battalion has more on the Maori and their role in WWI and WWII. 

For Teachers For Students has complete units of Anzac Day lesson plans including history worksheets, puzzles, word search activities, poems and math activities to explore Gallipoli and WWI by the numbers. 

Teach Starter is a blog with all kinds of Anzac Day lesson plans, including free printable word search activities, arts and crafts to honor veterans, such as wreaths and poppies. The poppy is the symbol for remembrance of the fallen in World War I (WWI). There are also recipes for Anzac biscuits, a type of hardtack made for the WWI troops at Gallipoli and other engagements. Here's another site with free printable Anzac Day activities to remember this auspicious holiday. 


Earth Day recycled trash bird feeders: science lesson plans, printables and trash crafts!


Just in time for Earth Day, here are recycled trash crafts for kids, to repurpose and reuse recycled milk jugs as homemade bird feeders. These bird feeders are great for National Bird Day (March 14) also. Make bird feeders in your preschool science learning centers or as part of ecology lesson plans. These recycled trash crafts are cheap, easy to make and fun for all ages.

First, if you're doing these lesson plans as part of homeschool, and you've got some little ones who are bit too young to be interested (grandsons Milo, Lucian and Ezra, Omi is smiling at you here!) you'll want activities to keep them involved. So how about assigning them the task of chief bird researcher (be sure to use the word "chief." The youngest ones love to be the boss sometimes!) Here are free printable bird coloring pages to for them to explore. As much as possible, find ways for youngers to be part of lesson plans. 

Next, teach children that reusing recycled milk jugs help the environment in three ways: when you repurpose and reuse recycled milk jugs you reduce the number that go into landfills. Homemade bird feeders support wildlife and the ecosystem. Making bird seed recipes from recycled kitchen scraps cuts waste. 

To make homemade bird feeders, wash, rinse and dry recycled milk jugs. Next, draw a window on the front of the milk jug on the opposite side from the handle. The window should be about two and one half inches from the bottom and about four inches on all sides. Using everyday scissors cut out the window. The plastic cuts pretty easily, but can be scratchy. You can assist those with physical limitations. After cutting the window, poke 5 small holes in the bottom to drain and air the birdseed and keep it dry. Decorate Earth Day crafts with permanent markers, stickers or fabric paint. Make festive nature patterns.

Now for the bird feeder fodder: here's a great time to explore bird species, habitats and nutritional requirements in your science lesson plans. To attract a variety of critters, fill the feeder up to about 1 and 1/2 inches with various bird seed recipes. You can buy generic bird seed in bulk inexpensively. This will attract chickadees, cardinals, house finch, dark-eyed juncos, sparrows, starlings, blue jays and lots of hungry squirrels. For special bird seed treats, save citrus rinds, apple peelings, fruit seeds, stale popcorn, bread, crackers and nuts. Blend with peanut butter and bird seed and place homemade bird feeder. If you carve a pumpkin, save the seeds. Squirrels will canvas the back yard at Halloween after pumpkin carving to get prized seeds.

Hang the bird feeder crafts in a tree, from poles or just about anything except utility wires. Hang with bird feeders with bright red yarn or ribbon. Many birds love bright red. You can place the feeder on a porch rail if necessary. Put a nail through the bottom to hold it in place. The youngest can be in charge of monitoring bird feeders and helping to refill them. 

Stay tuned for more Earth Day lesson plans, printables and activities! 


Earth Day Party: Spring themed snacks, crafts, books and printables


Spring is here and what better way to celebrate than with an Earth Day story party? Here are spring and weather themed snacks and snack crafts (snacks that do double duty as crafts that kids make themselves). I've added a list of books to read for literature connections, along with free printable book PDFs where available. 

Spring flower cookies: Use refrigerated cookie dough or better yet, make better-for-you honey cookie dough (unbleached flour, honey, baking soda and light butter). Color pink or purple with grape juice. Have each child make four small balls and arrange in a square. Bake and place M&Ms in center. Read "The Tiny Seed" Eric Carle using this free printable PDF. 

Rain Goblets: Buy inexpensive rain gauges and to serve juice. Kids can practice measurement plus get a cool rain gauge to take home and use in the garden. Read "Peter Spier's Rain"

Rainbow eggs: These are made like dyed Easter eggs. Hard boil eggs (about 15 minutes). Cool and gently crackle shells but don't remove shells. Dip eggs in food coloring or (my preference) different colored juices for dye. Now remove shells to find the pretty patterns in the egg white. Reuse colored shells in a mosaic pattern to be really eco-friendly for Earth Day. Read "The Egg Tree" by Katherine Milhouse and "An Extraordinary Egg" by Leo Lionni. 

Bird's nest cupcakes: Decorate cupcakes with frosting and sprinkle dyed green coconut on top. You can use broken pretzel sticks too. Place jelly beans or Skittles in "nest" for eggs. Use these in spring science lesson plans. Read "Are You My Mother?" (P.D. Eastman). Here's a free printable PDF

Dirt cups: Teach kids about soil layers, gardening and spring planting with these super easy, super yummy snacks kids will love to make. Per kid, you'll need a half cup of pudding, two Oreos, a graham cracker, a handful of M&Ms (spring pastel colors look the prettiest) and some gummy worms. If you can find gummy insects, add those too! Have kids make up chocolate pudding and crush Oreos and graham cracker. In clear plastic cups layer graham cracker (sand), pudding (mud) and cookies (dirt). Then they "plant" their seeds (M&Ms) and arrange their gummy critters on top! Perfect for Earth Day! Read (of course) "Diary of a Worm." (Doreen Cronin). 

Piggies in the mud: This was my youngest son Jake's FAVORITE! It's just chocolate pudding and animal crackers. Kids will love marching their animals through the "mud." Teach them that most animal species have babies in spring. Read "Ox-Cart Man." (Donald Hall). Here's a free printable PDF

Butterfly sandwiches: Let kids make their favorite sandwiches. Cut in triangles. Place pointy side together to make wings. Put a baby carrot or pickle spear in the center. That's the body, that was the caterpillar. Read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." (Eric Carle) Here's a free printable PDF, plus, check out my blog post for more Very Hungry Caterpillar printables. 


Homemade hats for kids: Earth Day recycled trash crafts with free printable paper hat patterns


Got kids Covid quarantined kids with stuck-at-home-itis? Got rainy-day, can't go out to play bored kids? Or, maybe you're looking for recycled trash crafts for Earth Day on April 22? If so, here's my teacher-mama first aid kit. Homeschool parents and teachers, your recycle bin is your best bud for hands-on eco-friendly, eco-nomical lesson plans. Repurpose and reuse household stuff in nifty, thrifty crafts, games and activities. Today's recycled trash crafts feature homemade hats for kids with hours of preschool dress up fun! Here's a guide plus links to free printable paper hats (this link goes to Enchanted Learning, another bestie for homeschool teacher-mamas and papas!)

The first prototype for these homemade hats was developed by our oldest daughter at 20 months old. We kept her blocks and toys sorted in recycled 5 pound peanut butter pails. One day, Little Miss emptied one, plopped it on her head, tucked handle under chin and voila—an instant helmet. Then she proceeded to saddle up and ride baby brother like her noble steed! After I removed the bucket handle for her safety and her from brother for his, I realized what really cool hats for kids can be made with a little repurpose and reuse ingenuity! 

Weed through your recycle bin for plastic ice cream buckets, butter tubs, coffee canisters you can repurpose and reuse. Size them so they fit child's head without any leftover. You don't want hats to completely envelop the child's face. You can repurpose and reuse milk jugs as awesome knight's helmets. Remove handle and use hole from the handle as a helmet visor. Cut a piece of plastic and attach with brads to make a visor flap.

Let children paint color, cover and decorate homemade hats however they wish. Wrap in aluminum foil for an armored helmet. Or have young inventors make hats, helmets and headpieces for robots, soldiers, aliens, animals, astronauts. Make homemade crowns for kings and queens and princesses (cut both ends out to make cylinder shape and decorate. Make cone-shaped medieval lady hats by rolling a square of paper in a funnel shape. Trim edge even. Staple recycled crepe paper streamers to hat. Cut decorations from recycle bin stuff. Repurpose and reuse old headgear in cute homemade hats for kids costumes. Repurpose and reuse silk flowers, fabric scraps, ribbons, yarn, buttons, appliques, and faux gems as decorations for your recycled crafts. Kids might wear their hats in an Earth Day parade! 

SS42 has lots of free printable paper hats for kids in several styles--baseball hats, hats with monster heads (zombies, vampire, spider web and pumpkin). There are free printable paper animal hats with noses and bills to go with animal costumes and a paper bucket hat to design and color yourself for Hat Day. Here are free printable paper hat patterns like the pointy party paper hats that attaches with a rubber band. 

My grampa was a newspaper printer. He always made newspaper hats for me and my kids (probably where my little hat maker got her inspiration).  In "Curious George Rides a Bike" George shows an easy way to make paper hat patterns or paper boats from newspaper. Here's his free printable paper hat pattern you can incorporate into reading lesson plans or activities for Earth Day. I think I'll make one in Grampa's memory! 


Giant Panda Bear printables, Kung Fu Panda lesson plans, activities coloring pages for Earth Day


Did you know that the Giant Panda is the Earth Day mascot? This will greatly please my grandson Lucian whose best friend is a panda bear named "B"! Here are free printable panda bear lesson plans, activities and coloring pages for us all to celebrate! 

First-School is an awesome website for educational printables and the subject of free printable panda bear activities is no exception. There are games, science lesson plans, literature based printables, worksheets, word search, coloring pages and more. Making Learning Fun has cute panda bear printables too. 

Living Montessori Now has links to Giant Panda printables with games, crafts and preschool activities. Lesson Planet has a plethora of free printable zoo lesson plans, including many Giant Panda activities. Enchanted Learning has dozens of free printable lesson plans on pandas. There are worksheets, crossword puzzles, maps, endangered species activities, science lesson plans and more. What could be more perfect for Earth Day?

How about doing a unit on Eric Carle's "Panda Bear, Panda Bear What do you See?" for Earth Day, April 22? Here are Eric Carle printables including some from that best-loved book. And what would a unit on pandas be without some activities involving Po, the Kung Fu Panda? Most of these have printables on other types of bears too. 

Free printable Dr. Seuss Lorax science lesson plans for Earth Day

 


Dr. Seuss’s  book "The Lorax" is the perfect book to read for Earth Day as it explores  corporate waste, pollution and lack of environmentally friendly practices. Here are environmental science activities from The Lorax. Use these literature-based Lorax lesson plans for Earth Day lesson plans and crafts. Start with free printable Lorax activities and Dr. Seuss lesson plans.

Text to Life Dr Seuss lesson plans. The Lorax is a parable or allegory. Characters represent ideas or people. As you read the Lorax ask students to decide who these characters represent: The Once-ler (corporations, society, people), The Boy (children, the future generation), The Lorax (God, Mother Nature, a Supreme Being).

Lorax story maps. After reading The Lorax, students should design environmental science diagrams to show food web and pollution impacts charts. Show in sequence how each species relies on the Trufulla trees. These could be drawn in cartoon format or as flowcharts. Now show backwards, how the Once-ler's factory takes out not only too the Trufulla trees away, but pollutes the air and water and harms the animals and plants. Here are endangered species printables to show what that looks like in real life.

Explore environmental science vocabulary from the Lorax--sustainable, ecology, symbiotic relationship, biodegradable, environment, pollution, interdependence, interconnected, food web, food chain, carbon footprint, carbon cycle, Make 3D graphic organizers by folding paper into 6 parts. for sequenced cartoon strip. Make a sequence book by accordion folding a wide strip of paper. On each page or frame, students write a word or sentence explaining what damage the factory created and how it affects each animal group. Or make a circle chart to show how nature is interconnected, by folding paper circles in six parts. Here are free printable habitat dioramas.

Environmental science experiments. Plant seeds. Here's an excellent text to life connection. Do as the Lorax and Once-ler advised and plant trees. Sprout seeds in simple terrariums by placing dried beans and wet paper towel in Ziploc bags. Or put carrot tops in water. Show how seeds need clean air and sun to grow. Place one seedling in a dark, dusty room such as a broom closet and others in the sun. Water some but not others. Compare results.

Writer's Workshop Dr. Seuss lesson plans. April is National Poetry Month. Write poems for Earth Day, telling what will happen "unless" people stop polluting and start caring for the earth. Or write an Earth Day song about why it is important to keep our world green. Draw shape poems, writing each line or sentence in the shape of the sun, trees, fish, birds, etc. The Lorax says he "speaks for the trees for the trees have no voice." Have children make posters, poems and songs to advocate for the trees.

Environmental science field trips and experiments. Go on a litter hunt. Take before and after pictures of the playground, woods or roadside. Give each student a recycled plastic bag and latex or plastic gloves. Count, weigh and measure how much trash was collected in 15 minutes. Chart and graph different kinds of litter and show what kinds of trash is most commonly thrown out. Start a recycling club. Take a field trip to visit a wildlife refuge, native tribal council, DNR station, nature center, fish hatchery or nature preserve. Wherever you live in this wide wonderful world, there are places to explore the wildlife in your area and folks committed to sharing their love of nature with students.

Environmental science skits. Students should write skits on reducing pollution and litter. Or retell The Lorax story. Explore the internet for new ways to reuse trash. For example, communities in Michigan create green eco-friendly park benches to made entirely from recycled plastic milk jugs.

Design a bird feeder, watering station and bird house. Use recycled materials like milk jugs. Compost food scraps. Or make bird seed cakes. Explore local songbirds in your area. Here are George Washington Carver printables with recycling ideas from the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle King himself!

Free printable ecology lesson plans from George Washington Carver

Earth Day is April 22 and all month long we celebrate earth awareness. I can't think of a better person to introduce children to in honor of Earth Month, than Dr. George Washington Carver. This African American scientist came from humble roots to literally
reinvent agriculture. Use this free printable George Washington Carver science activity booklet to learn more about this famous African American--and Nobel Prize winner--for Black History Month.

In this free printable activity booklet, learn how George Washington Carver was born into slavery and orphaned as an infant. Despite unspeakable poverty and oppression, this courageous young African American got an education and went on lead the nation in agricultural research. Service to mankind was Dr. Carver's mission. Raised in slavery, George Washington Carver learned to be resourceful and creative. Slaves were forced to make do with very little. They learned to improvise. George Washington Carver developed hundreds of new uses for many local products that had heretofore been considered junk. He invented countless uses for the peanut and sweet potato, which up to this point were used only as animal fodder. Dr. Carver referred to his simple laboratory as "God's Little Workshop."

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created a free printable activity booklet based on the life and work of Dr. George Washington Carver. This activity booklet has coloring pages, word search, puzzles, science charts and diagrams, science experiments and biology lesson plans to help students explore Dr. George Washington Carver. This activity booklet includes several free printable charts that show the many products that Dr. Carver created based on native plants like the peanut and sweet potato. He developed textiles, building supplies, cosmetics as well as food products.

This hardworking African American is the prefect focus for Black History Month lesson plans bur also for any science unit. Dr. Carver revolutionized antiquated, hurtful farming practices. He taught farmers to practice crop rotation and to plant nitrogen-producing plants which George Washington Carver was instrumental in improving not only agricultural methods, but also the economy of the rural south. By teaching farmers new ways to use native crops, Dr. Carver built up commerce and trade after the Civil War, in impoverished southern states. Explore this famous African American using free printable resources on Earth Day or during Earth Month in April.


Free printable endangered species coloring pages and lesson plans for Earth Day

 


Earth Day, which replaces the original holiday Arbor Day is celebrated in the United States on April 22. Here's a free printable environmental science booklet, Save our Species, with information, activities and coloring pages exploring endangered species in the US. The purpose of Earth Day is to celebrate the earth, educate people and explore ways to protect natural resources. Protecting our earth include supporting our animals, plants and habitats. Earth Day reminds people that they rely on the earth for sustenance and the earth relies on them for care and safety. Exploring and understanding endangered and threatened species helps us to learn better ways to care for our environment as a whole.

The EPA has developed a free printable 28 page environmental science activity and coloring booklet entitled Save Our Species. This free printable endangered species resource book is perfect for Earth Day. It has been developed for and provided to the public as an educational information guide. On Earth Day, and all Earth Month, students can explore endangered and threatened species in the United States, by coloring the animals, plants and habitats. This free printable environmental science activity book can be used as a field guide or zoo field trip planner. This booklet includes free printable coloring pages of endangered species and threatened species (species whose habitats are being encroached upon and destroyed). It explores 16 species of endangered animals in the United States and five threatened species.

Save our Species is available to download and print online or may be ordered free of charge as a bound booklet. Further environmental science and endangered species lesson plans are available at EPA. This free printable environmental science resources makes an excellent Earth Day tool for classroom, homeschool, scouting, 4H and any organizations dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. The website includes a free printable Save Our Species poster and lesson plans for teachers and homeschoolers. Decorate the school hallway for Earth Day by assigning each student to color a certain number of endangered species images. Place a large map on the wall and arrange endangered and threatened species pictures around the map with arrows pointing out areas to which the endangered species is native.