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

Free printable Chinese New Year lesson plans for wood dragons and the rest of the zodiac


Hello my friends of this blog on free printable lesson plans (and other goodies!) Teacher Omi from the Omschool here with free Chinese New Year activities. CNY 2024 celebrates the wood dragons of which I am one! Learn all about Chinese or Lunar New Year and Chinese Zodiac with these fun lesson plans! 

We start all units in the Omschool with books! I ground lesson plans in children's literature because kids books are THE root of a good education. Here are books that, while not exactly about Chinese New Year, do explore culture and traditions of China. Some are based in Japan but still deserve a mention because they deal with animals, especially of the zodiac. 

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac Children will laugh at the ambitions, follies and foibles of 12 animals who enter a swimming contest, and which became the basis for the Lunar Calendar. 

Buddha Stories (Demi): Buddhist and oriental fables are generally allegorical. Demi's stories are translations of Buddhist wisdom. Children can learn important truths from the antics of the animals in these stories.

Zen Shorts and Zen Ties (Jon Muth): Gentleness is the key construct in Buddhism. Stillwater the Panda and his Haiku speaking nephew Koo, teach three children of the wisdom of the orient is these endearing tales.

Three Samurai Cats (Eric A. Kimmel and Mordicai Gerstein) Three brave warrior cats learn the art of humility and patience from an aged Samurai cat.

The Story about Ping (Margorie Flack, Kurt Weise, 1933) Ping is an adorable, nosy little yellow duck who lives with his family of ducks and people aboard a Chinese junque on the Yangtze River. Children will delight in Ping's mischief and subsequent close call with the soup pot. Kurt Weise's delicate pictures evoke the fishing life on the Yellow River.

Tikki Tikki Tembo (Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent) The curious naming of children in Chinese culture almost causes grief in the village when little Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo falls into the well. Almost as much fun to read as it is to hear, this is a must read for young children.

Pearl S. Buck stories. Buck was a missionary to China and early winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Ms. Buck writes with compassion and verve about her beloved China. Best selections include: The House of Earth, The Mother, The Big Wave and Other Gods

Red Dragonfly On My Shoulder (translated by Sylvia Cassedy and Kunihiro Suetake; illustrations by Molly Bang) This whimsical collection of oriental Haiku, published in 1992, is perfect for introducing children to the joy of poetry and Haiku.

The Cat Who Went to Heaven (Elizabeth Coatsworth) At age 8, I stayed up reading this book till the late hour of 10pm, under the covers with a flashlight. I cried my eyes out at the tender story of a little cat named Good Fortune and the gentle painter who loves her.  This 1931 Newbery Medal winner tells of a poor painter who adopts a white cat whom he names Good Fortune. Fortune smiles on him when temple priests consign him to paint Lord Buddha and with animal friends. One problem, though: Cats mustn't be included because they once scorned the Buddha. Little Good Fortune loves Buddha and grieves to be denied worship of him. This tale is appropriate for Chinese New Year theme of good fortune.

The Chinese Cinderella Adeline Yen Mah, the ill-fated fifth younger sister, retells her story of abuse and neglect by a wicked stepmother and cruel father. Mah finds solace in Shakespeare and later becomes a physician and author.

The Five Chinese Brothers (Claire Huchet Bishop, Kurt Wiese) There is a famous legend retold in many cultures about five brothers who all look alike, but each have a unique power. The fidelity of the brothers is called upon to rescue one brother from death by the combined efforts of their special talents. This is the Chinese version of the tale.

The Funny Little Woman (Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent) This is a kind of Chinese Little Gingerbread Man story with much silliness, chasing and three wicked Oni to outwit. It won the Caldecott Medal for children's literature illustrations. This story will enchant young children.

Free printable Chinese New Year crafts from Activity Village will help extend lesson plans based on kids books about the Chinese Zodiac and Lunar calendar. 

Free printable Lunar New Year coloring pages Crayola offers some really attractive coloring pages for children and adults to enjoy. Each animal and  mythical beast (dragons!) of the Chinese New Year is represented. Coloring.ws has free printable dragon coloring pages with printables ranging from primary to challenging coloring pages. 

I had written parts of these blog post years ago and rereading, I see some problems with terminology and ethnocentrism. I grew up in a time where terms like "ethnic", "foreign" and "oriental" (meaning eastern, contrasted with occidental or western) were used. I thought then that I was writing primarily to westerners particularly in the US. I'm realizing now how big the internet is and how readers visit from all over the world. 

Also, I loved books like Childcraft Children of Many Lands which explored cultures and  traditions around the world. I never thought of them as being racist or profiling. Now I see how the original title "Our Own Country and Foreign Lands" might seem that way. But reading the stories you'll feel the deep respect and appreciation for the many wonderful people in our big multicultural world. 

For myself, I respected, admired and longed to be part of these world cultures more than my own. I still do. Probably because my country of the United States is just a big conglomeration of cultures across the globe. I don't pretend to know or understand it all. So I approach like a child, eager to learn and explore! A few years ago, watching a travel vlog about Tashkent and Sammerkand, I gasped with joy remembering reading of these "exotic" places in Childcraft when I was around 5! I hadn't thought of these cities in 50 years! All the fascination and longing to visit came flooding back and now Uzbekistan is top of my to-see list. 


Free printable animal tracks flashcards to play nature detective

 


Hello my friends! Teacher Omi (grandma) here with some fun winter science lesson plans for you. Today at the Omschool, we are having a big blizzard, so the ground is covered with snow. Opi (grandpa) was clearing the snow and noticed that lots of different animal friends had visited. How did he know? Yes, you  guessed it. Because he saw animal tracks in the snow! But the mystery was, which animal tracks are they. So we decided to play nature detectives and thought you might like to join us. But first you'll need some free printable animal tracks flashcards to help. 

We can figure out who visited by looking at the footprints and sometimes, tail prints that they left behind. Let's begin by printing those free printable animal tracks identification cards to help us solve the mystery of the who visited our yard.  You can use these to make your own field guide. 

Exploration America offers free printable animal tracks flashcards for you to print out, cut and assemble into a booklet. You can even use these as animal identification coloring pages. Maine.gov offers free downloadable printables of animal footprints and the Minnesota DNR (Department of Natural Resources) has 14 more free animal tracks printables. Massachusetts.gov has free printable animal identification flashcards.  

Along with our field guides, nature detectives need a magnifying glass. A camera would help, to take pictures of the tracks in situ (as they are). We can then make them into a nature scrapbook. We might also bring tweezers and some small plastic bags to collect any specimens we find, of fur. If we find any scat (animal droppings, or poop), we'll just leave it there and take pictures! 



Book BAGS: Apple Party with books, activities, games and snacks


 Hello my dear friends in the Omschool-iverse! Teacher Omi (grama) here with more apple activities plans for autumn harvest lesson plans. We talked in my last post about crafts and snacks for an apple party and today we'll extend that with a Book BAGS unit. Book BAGS are my lesson plans that focus around a (B)book with accompanying (A) activities, (G) games, (S) snacks and craft projects. These free printable lesson plans cover cross-curricular activities: math, reading, literature, science and social studies and are geared to Pre-K up to about grade 2. Book BAGS are heavy on hands-on, multisensory activities for all learning styles and special needs. They're multiage for homeschool families, too! And being that I'm teacher Omi, they feature my beloved baby grands Silas, Moses, Lola, Lucian, Ezra, Remus, Milo, Juno, Emmett and Henry in starring roles (Hi, guys!)

Let's begin with kids books about apples. Here are some favorites.

Ten Apples Up on Top by Theo LeSieg (aka Dr. Seuss!) Here's a video of Ten Apples Up on Top for all learners to sing and read along with. This is perfect for the younger toddler and preschool learners to practice counting (Juno, Ezra, Emmett, Remus this one's for you!) Dr. Seuss books provide perfect emergent reading practice also. Also, value added are games for simple physical education by balancing apples on your head! Then off course you can eat the apples or make them into applesauce. 

The True Tale of Johnny Appleseed by Margaret Hodges. There are many wonderful kids books about explorer and environmentalist John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) but this one is my favorite. There's a Disney version of Johnny Appleseed legend from 1948 that children will love today. The wonderful thing about this story is that unlike other Americana legends or tall tales like Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill, this one is essentially all true. Read John Chapman's wikipedia page for details on his life. This book/movie combo is perfect for teaching apple science. 

Use free printable apple lesson plans from Enchanted Learning. This website feature dozens of free printable apple themed activities from craft projects, reading, creative writing, penmanship, science, drawing, phonics, math and more. 

Oh and speaking of applesauce, young learners will love Tigger and the Apple Tree from the Mickey's Young Reader books. The ever-bombastic Tigger assists Rabbit's applesauce-making in his own avant-garde style! Follow up reading by bobbing for apples in a tub of water (older kids) or using fish nets to "fish" for apples (younger learners). Then make your own applesauce with honey (Pooh Bear's recipe). You can peel and core apples or, if you have a applesauce mill, use that (much tastier and prettier). Simply add a dab of honey when done. 

Plant parts booklet. Kids love making their own books and apple science is a perfect subject. You can make kids books simple. Staple a few sheets of paper together (recycled from recycle bin) .Or get fancier and bind books and make a cover. Draw progress of apple from seed, sprout, stem (trunk), leaves, blossoms, fruit and finally back around to seed. Students can make it like a flip book if they choose also. 

Visit and apple orchare and host and apple tasting party. Assemble various types apples and have students sample, rate and categorize. They might arrange by color, sweetness and texture. Make a map of where different apples are grown regionally. Here are some apple varieties to try:

Granny Smith

Northern Spy

Macintosh

Ida Red

Paula Red

Jonathon

Red Delicious

Yellow Delicious

Pink Lady

Cosmic Crisp

Fuji

Gala

Honeycrisp

Sweetango

Winesap (harder to fin)

Host and an Apple Hunt (like an Easter egg hunt). Then make apple prints. Cut apples widthwise and find the star hidden in the apple. Saturate paper towel with food coloring to make stamp pad. Or use lightweight paint  to make apple print T-shirts. 

Teach Bible lesson plans on apples. Of course there's the Adam and Eve story, but I like to focus  Christian lesson plans on the more positive Bible verses such David being the "apple of God's eye" meaning beloved. We are all beloved, as children of God, by extension. 

Teach Jewish Rosh Hashanah lesson plans with apples and honey. Chabad.org offers wonderful lesson plans and activities for kids to explore this Holy Day tradition. 


Make a pet baby tornado: fun, easy, free science activities and recycled crafts

 Hello teachers and homeschool friends, "Omschool" teacher Omi (grandma) here with easy, free recycle bin crafts for science lesson plans. Today we're making pet baby tornadoes. This science experiment is easy for all ages from toddler on up. It's perfect for a highchair craft. The pet baby tornado is free to make with items from the recycle bin. You just need water, a clean glass jar with lid and a tiny drop of dish soap. 

To find baby tornado, just shake round and round to create a swirling in the water, called in science talk, a vortex. This is the force that drives a whirlpool and also the force that is generated by the drain in your sink or bathtub. Water doesn't just fall down the drain, it swirls round and round as it goes down. 

I realized after I made my pet baby tornado video that it was difficult to see him clearly. So I tried adding a little food coloring to make baby tornado show up better. You can also add some glitter if you  have some, to show how things floating on the surface are pulled into the vortex. 



 
Extend your science fun with some cross-curricular connections. Make a book about baby tornado. Research tornados and the force they create. Draw your tornado and maybe make up a song about him (her!) 

Here are free printable tornado lesson plans from A to Z Teacher. And here are some more free printable tornado lesson plans from Teach Engineering. 


DIY Sand and Water Table alternatives for homeschool and classroom


 Hello fans of my Omschool blog. I've been a licensed general and special education teacher for 37 years and part of my career work was spent homeschooling our four children. Now, I'm Omi--grandma--to 9 going on 11 and am continuing the homeschool traditions I began, with the second generation as Omschool (Omi's school). Lesson plans are designed with cheap to free materials, many of which are reused, repurposed and recycled. 

For today's lesson plans, we'll create a DIY sand and water table for preschool, special education and lower elementary learning centers. This sand table alternative was developed in our homeschool and works well for small spaces. As budgets are usually tight, whether in public, parochial or homeschool, this is a low cost alternative as well. 

Instead of the expensive sand and water table purchased from school supply companies, I've used a repurposed child's sandbox such as the enclosed Little Tikes turtle sandbox or Step 2 brand sandboxes. The turtle sandbox is washable, portable and covered. It moves easily indoors or out. For an even more budget friendly alternative, get a small plastic wading pool. I've found these as cheap as $7 from Dollar General. Inflatable kiddie pools will work too however they aren't as durable. 

The last sand table alternative is a low sided plastic box or tub with lid. This works very well when space is limited. When learning center activities are done, simply close the box with media and manipulatives inside and stack in the storage area. Here's my blog post on homemade sand toys for the sand table. 

These preschool learning center activities worked very well for our homeschool. I could allow the  youngest children to explore independently while instructing the older children. The DIY sand and water table wasn't just for preschool learning center activities either. The older kids could use it to practice and explore mathematical concepts such as measurement, geometry (volume) and science (sing various media). Sand tables provide excellent sensory experiences. More on sand table filler alternatives later! 

I'm sorry I don't have an image of how this sand and water table fit in our homeschool. But let me assure you the even in our tiny 10x10 room, it fit well! I've linked the picture to Amazon. This small reasonably priced Step 2 sandbox would work perfectly. 

Free lesson plans: how to homeschool for nothing (zip, zero, no cost)


 Hello my friends! Om-school Omi here with some good...nay great...news for homeschool families. You can literally homeschool your children for nothing, as in zip, nada, zero cost with these free lesson plans and a little know-how. I'm going to share easy, free ways to educate kids, gleaned from 43 years of teaching. 

I've been doing this education thing in one way or another since I was 15, at summer camps, VBS, Sunday school and then as a certified teacher in K-8, Montessori, adult, preschool, special needs, tutoring, homeschool and substitute teaching. And I can assure you that it's not really that difficult if you plan and prepare accordingly. 

If the Covid 19 pandemic taught us anything about homeschooling our children it's that we prefer to pay for things (or feel more comfortable with purchased curriculum, cyberschooling, apps, etc.) than we do trusting our own teaching skills and common sense. But happily, as quarantine wore on, I saw many parents begin to have aha moments as they realized, hey, this isn't so difficult. We can teach our kids! To quote my beloved Barack Obama, yes we can! Parents began to wean from purchased packaged and digital lesson plans and experiment with ideas of their own. 

So now that Covid 19 is winding down, you can also keep up that momentum with homeschooling if you want. You don't have to homeschool every day or keep them out of group education. The key is to remember that every moment we are with our children we are teaching, modeling, and communicating in every act we perform or word we say. Daunting? A little. But also exciting. So how do we teach, model and communicate positive healthy, proactive ideas to our kids? Here are some ideas, my "free lesson plans" if you will. 

1) Be authentic. Just because we are educating constantly, doesn't mean we have to adopt a fake "teacher voice." Educating doesn't mean pontificating, preaching or proselytizing. Speak to children respectfully, positively and gently. 

2) Build for natural learning. Teaching is more about doing and showing than talking. St. Francis of Assisi said of preaching (which in its truest form is teaching) "preach always. Occasionally, use words." Genuine learning takes place when teachers share, foster and facilitate experiences. 

3) Facilitate. Montessori identifies this as the teacher's main duty. Make natural learning experiences accessible to students. Create activities--a craft project, for example--and then step back and let children interact with materials. Or just point out learning experiences (a bird's nest on a nature walk). Don't hover, orchestrate or  manufacture results. Let kids take from experiences what they will. See my post on grandchildren Lucian and Ezra and their experiences with a sand mold project we did with them. 

4) Observe. I can't emphasize enough the importance of quiet observation and reflection in the classroom. In an upcoming post I'm going to cover observation journals. There's so much going on around us in our world. Children know this and are constantly making us adults aware of this, if we listen. Sometimes, we learn more from them than they learn from us and what a blessing that is. I guess that's why Montessori says to "follow  the child" and the Bible that "a child will lead them." 

5) Empower. Sadly some children have had their experiences, observations and ideas diminished and need an infusion of confidence. They have come to believe that they aren't good enough and require constant validation from someone they think is superior. This is where we educators can interrupt and redirect that cycle and validate them. When subbing in an alternative high school for troubled teens, students were reading "The Crucible" aloud as a play. I complimented one young man who was generally very angry and withdrawn, on his delivery as Judge Hawthorne. I said he should consider community theater. He literally blossomed and I heard him after class telling students that he was thinking of trying out for a play. 

Stay tuned for more ideas on how to educate children without spending a cent! Photo is eldest grandson Silas mucking about with his homemade slime, making a mess, having a blast, oh and btw, learning about polymers. 

Earth Month recycled trash crafts: homemade musical instruments


 Hello my fellow educators! Time to spring into Earth Month and what better way to celebrate the environment than by protecting it. And what better way to do that than to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose and what better way to do that than with recycled trash crafts? Here are "recipes" to make homemade musical instruments from the recycle bin or using found household object. Whether you teach at home, school or in a community setting, your students will love these activities. And as a former homeschool parent now in Gen 2 homeschooling with the baby grands, I'm gearing my lesson plans toward all ages including the toddlers. Juno, Emmett and Remus, Omi has you covered! 

First and simplest recipe for homemade musical instruments is to repurpose items from your pan cupboard and junk, erm, I mean utensil drawer! I've been privileged to enjoy four kids and nine grandkids and a favorite activity is a kitchen band. A funnel makes a great trumpet! An egg beater or wire whisks are great for percussion. Experiment with various spoons and metal, wooden or glass bowls to create a panoply of drum sounds. Kids can even simulate bells. 

Speaking of bells, have kids create homemade bell musical instruments using clean aluminum cans and jar lids. Smooth down any rough edges by running a can opener around the sides to press down (good job for older children). Next, pound a nail into the top center of closed end of can. Use nail to pierce a hole in the edge of the jar lid. Use recycled string or yarn to tie a loop through jar lid and then run it through hole in can. Make a large knot to secure. 

Make windchimes from recycled trash. Windchimes are very easy trash crafts to make. Repeat procedure for the homemade bell musical instruments punching several holes in aluminum cans and securing four or five can lids. Suspend them below the can so they can blow freely. 

Homemade "xylophone". Use recycled flatware (spoons, dinner knives and forks) to make chimes. Bend heads of spoons and forks so they will connect more easily. Cheap flatware works best as it is more bendable. Or leave flatware as is to create a xylophone. Have an adult drill holes in handle ends or use double stick tape to secure string or yarn scraps. Suspend from hooks attached to a flat board or 1x1x12 piece of wood. Encourage students to test sounds and arrange according from high to low. 

Stay tuned for more recycled trash crafts! Tip Junkie has a list of 28 free printable recycled trash crafts for Earth Day to take you all through Earth Month! 

Recipes for homemade crayons using recycled broken crayons


With Earth Day, and Earth Month, fast upon us, I'm looking at ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose .Making crafts with recycled materials from the recycle bin is an excellent way to teach Earth Day eco-friendly habits. Here's are activities to use up those leftover broken crayons. Repurpose them as new crayons with these simple science activities. 

Have students gather broken crayons and peel off outer paper. You'll be making new palm held crayons similar to the egg crayons. These are popular in special needs or preschool classrooms use to help children who aren't quite ready for the stick crayons. Palm or egg crayons help toddlers, preschool and special needs kids develop fine motor skills while still enjoying coloring activities. 

Once you have pile of peeled crayon pieces, spray old recycled muffin tins with cooking spray. Use mini muffin tins for preschool and older children and large ones for toddlers as mini shaped crayons might look edible to toddlers. Have students place assorted bits of broken crayons in each tin. Aim for a rainbow of colors in each cup. Help kids place muffin tins in oven and heat to 200. Heat till crayons on melted but still chunky. Swirl with toothpick while warm if you wish. Place crayon melts in refrigerator till hardened then turn out of pan and enjoy coloring.

Be sure to only use recycled muffin tins for crafts, and not cooking, once you've done this activity. This is a great way to repurpose old muffin tins and give them new life. Use these free printable rainbow coloring pages to make beautiful spring crafts. Print coloring pages and printables on scrap paper from recycle bin for green, Earth Day ecofriendly activities. 

St. Patrick's Day party lesson plans, crafts, activities to celebrate green

Here's a nifty unit of activities for St. Patrick's Day: lesson plans to celebrate all things green! I've tailored these lesson plans for classroom or homeschool, and ages toddler and preschool through grade 3. I've included St. Patrick's Day party activities, green themed food and snacks, games, crafts and printables. There are many earth science extensions for Earth Day too. 

Green themed snacks and food for St. Patrick's Day party: 

Make a green fruit and vegetable tasting tray. For hands-on biology science activities, explore plant parts of green veggies and fruits. Make a chart to show what plant part each comes from. Draw a large tree showing roots below the ground. The use these free printable coloring pages for fruits and vegetables to color, cut and paste pictures on the tree. 

Roots: sprouts, scallions (tops), fennel bulb
Stalk (trunk) celery, green onions, dill weed, asparagus
Leaves: lettuce, brussels sprouts
ts, kale, spring mix, arugula, spinach, cilantro, mint, watercress, 
Seeds: green beans, peas, edamame, 
Flower: Broccoli, broccoflower: flower 
Fruit: cucumber, kiwi, green grapes, green beans, zucchini, chayote squash (also called mirliton in southern states), green apples, pears, acorn squash

Students will enjoy making green lime yogurt pops by freezing yogurt in popsicle makers. Or freeze limeade or pistachio pudding. 

St. Patrick's party games: 

Play Red light/Green Light (basically stop and go). Extend with safety lesson plans. Discuss that green represents "safe" or "go" in online, cyber and traffic safety. Make traffic safety road signs to test children. Use these free printable traffic signals and road sign coloring pages. 

St. Patrick's Day green themed crafts

Discuss earth friendly ways to keep the earth green. Encourage kids to think reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose. Challenge them to make "green machines" that are both eco-friendly and green in color, from the recycle bin. 

Toddlers and preschool students will like to color these free printable spring coloring pages. Here are free printable flower coloring pages too. Be sure to print on scrap paper from the recycle bin. Use low ink settings for the most eco-friendly printing. Assemble into a poster to display. 

Have children make collages from recycled magazines of pictures of things that are green. For really earth friendly green crafts, use materials from the recycle bin. Toddler and preschool children will love finding green items in magazines. 

Plant herb seeds in recycled jar or plastic dish (holes poked in the bottom for drainage) from recycle bin. 

Earth Day green outdoor activities

Go on a nature hunt and look for spring signs of new life: nests, buds on trees, green plant shoots, flowers beginning to sprout, grass growing, baby leaves on trees. Pay special attention to things that are green. Kids should bring a nature journal where they can draw pictures of what they observe. 

Collect litter and trash for proper disposal. Be sure kids wear nitryl gloves and masks when collecting litter. Adults should collect any glass. 


Lesson plans using recycled plastic Easter eggs and egg cartons


  I love repurposing and reusing stuff from my recycle bin in new and creative ways, especially as lesson plans. Recently, my one-year-old grandson has been discovering the fun playing with empty recycled plastic Easter eggs. This has inspired me to design hands-on activities, lesson plans and games using recycled plastic Easter eggs and egg cartons. I've includes some free printable activities to supplement. 

With Easter coming up, there will be many activities involving plastic Easter eggs: candy hunts, Easter crafts, etc. You might be tempted to throw them away, after use, but don't. There are so many educational activities to use recycled plastic Easter eggs. Save Styrofoam egg cartons as well. 

I blogged in an earlier post about using plastic eggs and egg cartons from the recycle bin as preschool learning center math, sorting and fine motor activities. The good news for homeschoolers is that these make great toddler high chair activities too. Activities are easily adjustable to age. My grandkids Juno and Emmett who are 1, love stacking or "nesting" plastic egg halves, just like blocks. We work on placing eggs in egg cartons, to practice eye hand coordination, puzzle skills and fine motor. 

Challenge kids fine motor skills in egg assembly activities. The plain colored recycled plastic eggs are easier than the shaped ones like the ice cream ones shown in the picture which can be a little tricky. But it's important for development that some tasks be difficult, especially for special needs and students with autism. We teach to fear failure and frustration when we make things too easy, or do it for them. Children need challenges, to have to work at something and to try new approaches, to learn patience, perseverance and vital problem solving skills. 

Use assembled Easter eggs in science learning centers and preschool sand and water table to explore water displacement and floatation concepts. Give toddlers scooping tools to practice fine and gross motor skills in high chair activities. Special needs students will love "fishing" for Easter eggs too! 

Have kids "hide" little items or non-messy foods in recycled plastic Easter eggs. Or hide them yourself and have students predict what's inside. This teaches math skills of size estimation. 

Sort eggs in egg cartons, by color or design. Last year, when my husband and I visited our grandkids, we brought each child a set of individualized themed Easter eggs (dinosaurs, fish, desserts, sports balls and insects). Then we played an Easter egg hunt game in which each child had to find eggs in his pattern. The 3-year-olds, Lucian and Milo, were able to identify eggs that belonged in their pattern. And Ezra, who was almost two, was able to find his fishy Easter eggs by their color. Extend pattern lesson plans with free printable animal dominoes

Do an Easter egg hunt, using recycled egg cartons to place found eggs. Each child brings a dozen and finds a dozen. Once her 12 spaces are filled she "wins." A homeschool mom friend of my oldest daughter came up with genius plan. It prevents kids taking too many eggs and best of all teaches math skills. Have older kids group their eggs by two, three, four and six, to learn skip counting, multiplying and dividing. Reinforce with these free printable math flash cards

For more hands-on lesson plans and recycle bin activities stay tuned to this blog. 


5 free activities to break the screen addiction


So I probably won't get any argument if I say we're all pretty screen addicted. Adults bemoan kids always on their phones or playing video games but where did kids learn it from?  Distracted parenting, and by this I mean being always connected online (shopping, social media, texting, scrolling)  makes for some pretty disconnected parents and children. Here are 5 free activities to bust the screen addiction and reconnect families. 

Fully engage. Wherever you go, you see people attached to their phone, even when they are supposed to be relaxing. You wonder how they could possibly be enjoying themselves. And social media is overflowing with photos of people supposedly doing things together. Are they more concerned with doing things as a family or being seen to do things as a family? I don't know about you but I can't multitask. When I'm with kids, it takes all my attention and then some. Social media doesn't need your undivided attention, your kids do. Next you go someplace with the kids be more concerned about enjoying the time rather than posting about it instead of the other way around. 

Chat with children. I don't mean some artificially contrived cyber chat. I mean just talk with them and more importantly listen. Ask and answer questions. Discuss everything. I had a fabulous conversation with my second oldest grandson Moses who lives in Louisiana about everything from snakes to suitcases. He was amazed that we talked for almost an hour and a half. I said I could visit with him forever. I don't know how much he realizes how I treasure this time. And you should too. Your kids will not always have or make as much time for you. Celebrate it.

Explore. Wherever you go, observe and discuss what you see with your children. Instead of plunking some phone game in front of them when you go grocery shopping, take the opportunity to chat with them. Wonderful memories made. 

Make memories. Speaking of which, it seems to be that parents are more concerned about telling others what they are doing rather than just doing it. Again, be so busy enjoying family time that you are too busy to update everyone on social media about it. Instead of the other way around. 

Be in nature. Whether it's a park, the beach, a hiking trail, or just down the street, teach kids to observe and talk about what they see in nature. When I take my grandkids for a walk, I narrate what we are seeing. As they get older and more verbal, they start narrating, and questioning, and wondering. As Mister Rogers sang, 

"Did you know that it's all right to wonder? Did you know when you wonder you're learning? Did you know when you marvel you're learning? About all kinds of marvelous, Marvelously wonderful things?" 

Read together. There are just no words to describe the magical worlds you create and inhabit when you read to children. 

Recycle bin Easter egg crafts to teach early math--with free printables


With Earth Day (now actually Earth Month) around the corner, I'm sharing lesson plans to make crafts from your recycle bin. Today we're making recycle bin Easter egg crafts to teach early math activities of sorting and matching, plus fine motor skills. These Easter egg crafts were inspired by my toddler grandchildren, Juno, Ezra and Emmett. 

As a homeschool mom, I was always looking for toddler high chair activities to keep the youngest busy learning while I did lesson plans with the older kids. Use these Easter egg crafts in math learning centers, as high chair activities or at a toddler picnic table for older more mobile preschoolers. I used one of the small Little Tikes picnic tables with our youngest. I rotated different preschool crafts and hands-on activities for her to work on. You could use the sand and water table also. 

For toddler Easter egg crafts (ages 1-2)  you're only going to need two things, which can be found in your recycle bin: plastic refillable Easter eggs and empty egg cartons. Assemble eggs for 1-year-old children and let them practice sorting into egg cartons. As they get older, children can begin assembling Easter eggs. Then at age 2-ish, they can match egg halves by color or pattern (we have some really cool ones shaped like sports balls, fish and ice cream!) These are great for developing fine motor skills. And saving Easter eggs from year to year is environmentally friendly so prefect for Earth Month. 

Also at age two, or whenever they no longer put things in their mouths, they can begin filling Easter eggs with tiny objects or shapes. Children might cut shapes from recycled cardboard or paper, to practice scissors skills. They might also use shape punches. Extend this into a fun preschool snack craft by giving them little snacks to hide in eggs (fish crackers, letter pretzels, etc.)

Here are free printable Earth Day activities and here's my page of free printable Earth Day lesson plans, crafts and activities. Lastly, here's my collection of lesson plans for Earth Day trash crafts Stay tuned for more Earth Month activities! 




Free Printable Heart lesson plans for Valentine's Day


Hello fellow educators, with Valentine's Day right around the corner, you're probably up to your elbows in holiday crafts. But how about some non-traditional Valentine's Day activities? Here are free printable heart (as in the organ) lesson plans. Use these for science, anatomy and health lesson plans for fun holiday connections with an educational twist. 

Coloring Home has a large assortment of free printable heart coloring pages featuring diagrams to color and label, plus anatomy coloring pages to show how the heart works within other parts of the body. The health lesson plans help students explore the heart and the larger circulatory system and why it is such a vital organ (the word vital comes from Latin, "vita" or "life.") 

The American Heart Association has loads of free printable heart health lesson plans. There are other resources on heart health and healthy habits. Here a free printables on the circulatory system and heart themed activities to help students keep heart fit. I particularly like the free downloads with printables on 25 ways to keep moving, at home and at school. 

Kids Health has free printable fitness and health lesson plans to help students understand the importance of nutrition, exercise, fitness and healthy choices (not smoking or vaping). Click around to find fitness trackers, heart rate monitors and other tools for wellness. 

Along with the frilly Valentine's Day crafts and valentine exchanges, my students studied the parts of the body in science lesson plans around this holiday. Preschool students made vests cut from grocery bags with organs of the human body drawn on. Older kids made human body T-shirts with body organs drawn on in permanent marker. There are several coloring pages from the Coloring Home link that could be used as parts of the body templates. Older students might stencil on the T-shirt, label and color the human body model. 

Younger students can get scissors skills practice, using the body parts coloring pages as color, cut and paste activities. Here are more free printable human body coloring pages for such cut and paste activities, from Exploring Nature. 

Include lots of active learning in your heart lesson plans and heart healthy snacks! Stay tuned for heart party activities for Valentine's Day! 

Stone Soup lesson plans, activities and printables, plus Friendship Soup recipes


 Looking for interactive, hands-on activities to revive a winter weary preschool or elementary age curriculum? How about a unit on "Stone Soup?" Here are free printable Stone Soup lesson plans, activities, coloring pages, crafts and recipes for Friendship Soup from the beloved children's literature classic. 

There are several versions of Stone Soup, my favorite being the Marcia Brown Caldecott one (shown above). In this story, stingy villagers learn the value of collaboration and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts when three hungry soldiers con them into to sharing their hoarded food to make a group soup. 

Begin by reading Stone Soup aloud. Children should predict what will happen using HOTS (higher order thinking skills). Kids will love the ah-ha moment when they realize, (before the greedy villagers do) that the hoarders have just been tricked into parting with food they lied about not having. 

Next, assign kids character parts and retell Stone Soup as a  play. Let children design costumes and create props and scenery from the recycle bin. Recycled cardboard fridge boxes make awesome backdrops which children can paint. Present this as a play to other students. 

After the play, serve Stone Soup (which has now become Friendship Soup) that you have made as a class. Allow students to prep vegetables or simply bring canned vegetables to reheat. Children might also prep vegetables and home. Teacher should probably bring the cooked meat if you're going to include it. Also, provide washed stones to use in soup (large ones so no one accidentally swallows). Simmer ingredients in a crockpot while doing other activities. 

Write Stone Soup recipes for process writing lesson plans. Ingredients include: cooked meat, milk, carrots, celery, potatoes, cabbage, onions, salt, pepper and stones. Encourage kids into writing creatively to produce funny or silly recipes. Create cartoon strips or story boards. Make a Stone Soup word wall, using words from the story. Cooking with children and writing and following recipes make excellent math lesson plans. 

For science lesson plans, explore food groups or edible plant parts (carrots and potatoes--roots, onions--bulb, celery--stem and leaves, cabbage--leaves, pepper--seeds). Explore raw vegetable colors, textures, and structure. Draw plant diagrams. 






Holocaust Remembrance Day activities to commemorate Yom Hashoah January 27


 January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day says the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. On this day, Allied forces in WWII liberated the Jewish concentration camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau. We've heard of the 6 million Jewish souls perished in these death camps. But countless others died including Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), Slavs, Poles, those with disabilities, gay and lesbian and anyone deemed by Nazis to be inferior.  

As the world mourns, it's time also for ora et labora--prayer and work--to end antisemitism, bigotry, discrimination and persecution. How? By looking to children, the hope for the future. Use these activities in your classroom, homeschool, worship group or family, to raise awareness, educate and inform on Holocaust (Shoah). 

Visit a Holocaust museum. Yad Vashem (Jerusalem), one of the Martyrdom Museums at preserved concentration camps, USHMM in Washington DC., the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Mich. Yad Vashem offers many virtual tours and activities. Visit if just digitally, the Hall of Names. I was heartbroken to learn that as of 2023, only about half of the Jews murdered had been traced and those were only thanks massive research and outreach work on the part of Yad Vashem.

Use Holocaust lesson plans to teach about pogroms, Hitler's Final Solution, Goebels' anti-Semitic propaganda campaign, concentration camps, ghettos, ethnic cleansing and atrocities wreaked on the Jews, Roma (Romani), Sinti, Slavs, Poles, Catholics, gay and lesbian and others deemed "undesirable by Hitler and the Nazi party. 

Share stories. Most children probably didn't know anyone who was in the concentration camps. But they can write about how they would feel if it happened to them. Use Torah Tots Holocaust remembrance page for younger children. Evaluate the maturity of children. 

Raise awareness. Talk about why a Holocaust Memorial was defaced. Observe Yom Hashoah, Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day in April. Download free printable Holocaust posters or these printables for discussion. Use as writing prompts and story starters. 

Design Holocaust Memorial Posters. Encourage students to design posters or infographics to commemorate the lives lost. Write eulogy poems to honor the dead. Or students might compose a song to sing for January 27. 

Read books and watch movies on the Shoah or Holocaust: The Diary of Anne Frank, Life is Beautiful, The Hiding Place, Schindler's List, Number the Stars, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Night, The Book Thief, I am David, Sarah's Key, Woman of Gold. There is a documentary Final Account made of interviews with Germans who had lived during these times. It is shocking and disturbing and I believe should be viewed by all teens and adults. Use discretion. Amazon Prime has an extensive collection of Holocaust related films and documentaries and Yad Vashem's Youtube channel features stories of Shoah survivors. 

Visit a cemetery. Look for a Star of David to denote a Jewish grave. Place a rock ( a Hebrew memorial). Leave flowers on any grave if you can't find a Jewish one. A tribute to one is a tribute to all. Or plant a tree as a sign of life.


Free printable Year of the Rabbit CNY activities with a Chinese New Year kids book list

 


Chinese New Year begins January 22, 2023 and this year,  it's the Year of the Rabbit. Here are Chinese New Year books for kids about China, Chinese culture and bunnies! Included are free printable bunny crafts for Year of the Rabbit.

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (Ling and Eric Lee)

Buddha Stories (Demi): Buddhist and oriental fables are generally allegorical. Demi's stories are translations of Buddhist wisdom. Children can learn important truths from the follies of the animals in these stories. Buddhism is the largest religion in China. 

Zen Shorts and Zen Ties (Jon Muth): Gentleness is the key construct in Buddhism. Stillwater the Panda and his Haiku speaking nephew Koo, teach three children of the wisdom of the orient is these endearing tales.

Three Samurai Cats (Eric A. Kimmel and Mordicai Gerstein) Three brave warrior cats learn the art of humility and patience from an aged Samurai cat.

The Story about Ping (Margorie Flack, Kurt Weise, 1933) Ping is an adorable, nosy little yellow duck who lives with his family of ducks and people aboard a Chinese junque on the Yangtze River. Children will delight in Ping's mischief and subsequent close call with the soup pot. Kurt Weise's delicate pictures evoke the exotic and the quaint in life on the Yellow River.

Tikki Tikki Tembo (Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent) The curious naming of children in Chinese culture almost causes grief in the village when little Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo falls into the well. Almost as much fun to read as it is to hear, this is a must read for young children.

The Five Chinese Brothers (Claire Huchet Bishop, Kurt Wiese) There is a famous legend retold in many cultures about five brothers who all look alike, but each have a unique power. The fidelity of the brothers is called upon to rescue one brother from death by the combined efforts of their special talents. This is the Chinese version of the tale.

The Funny Little Woman (Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent) This is a kind of Chinese Little Gingerbread Man story with much silliness, chasing and three wicked Oni to outwit. It won the Caldecott Medal for children's literature illustrations. This story will enchant young children.

Here are free printable activities from kids books about rabbits and bunnies featuring favorites like the Easter bunny, Disney's HOP, Peter Rabbit, the Velveteen Rabbit and Peter Cottontail. There are lots of free printable vintage rabbits images too. 

Easter is probably the most quintessentially preschool holiday of all. Baskets, candy, egg decorating, bunnies, baby animals, spring--for young and young at heart, here are free printable Easter bunny crafts. I've included printable activities based on my two favorite bunnies Peter Rabbit and the Velveteen Rabbit, too. Parents and teachers, you'll want these for preschool classroom fun. 

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

Vintage Easter Bunny crafts Now that you are properly attired, let's make some Easter baskets and greeting cards. The Toymaker has free printable egg baskets, bunny cards and an egg roll game (like they play on the White House). Why not make cards and baskets and fill with Easter eggs or candy and deliver to a lonely senior neighbor (wearing your mask, of course). The Easter bunny loves his older friends, too! 

3D Paper Bunny Crafts The calendar may say spring, but Easter is often cold and damp. Settle down to an afternoon of serious rainy day crafting with free printable 3D bunny-themed paper toys from Craft Jr. I'm partial to the old-fashioned diorama. 

Paper Bunny Toy Mania DL-TK, those wonderfully crafty folk, have an Easter blowout of 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 young and special needs children who need no-fail activities. 

Peter Rabbit fun Peter Rabbit has his own page, along with other Beatrix Potter friends. 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. I like the felt board games and printable felt board patterns. First School has an educational Peter Rabbit unit with learning games, literature activities, writing prompts and stories. 

Happity, Hippity, Hoppity Easter! 

Chinese New Year Party planner with crafts, books, activities and learning centers


 The Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese New Year lunar calendar begins on January 22, 2023. Ring in the Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year and Spring Festival, with a party planner for your classroom, home-school group, scout troop or 4-H club. This Spring Festival party planner is perfect for any children's venue that celebrates cultural diversity. In the long dark days of January, a cultural celebration can spark much-needed light and joy. 

The Lunar New Year party planner includes the elements of a good lesson plan as well as a good party. Use learning centers for party planner activities. Divide students into groups and rotate among learning centers, giving equal time for each group at each center. Do the math for how many students per group and how long to give each group based upon the logistics of your situation. If you do the Spring Festival party planner as a whole group, do these activities in order. It is important with any children's group activity to vary the routine. Intersperse quiet and active, listening and doing activities. 

Chinese New Year touch table. Set out hands-on materials children can explore independently. This is a good activity for young, easily-bored or special needs students or to use as a filler between activities. Leave touch table up throughout the event. Lunar New Year touch table items include artifacts from China, Chinese Zodiac placemats, jade figures, pieces of ivory, porcelain, bamboo, tea sets, chopsticks, photos, garments, silk, fans, toy animals from China, stuffed animals from the zodiac (monkey, rat, pig, goat, tiger, dragon, dog, horse, rooster, snake, ox and rabbit). 

Spring Festival smell and taste table. Set out taste test samples of Chinese New Year foods. bok choy, tea, almond cookies, coconut macaroons, fried dumplings (potstickers), monkey bread (for Year of the Monkey), bunny food (carrots, lettuce and salad), egg foo yung, sushi, cellophane noodles, ramen noodles, cherries, fish, egg rolls, rice crackers, fortune cookies and candy gold coins (good fortune is the theme!) Check the international section of your local grocery store. Provide herbs in their raw state for kids to smell: ginger root, lemongrass, wasabi, saffron, turmeric, garlic. 

Chinese New Year sound table. Play recordings of oriental music in the background. Show Youtube videos of different dance, theater, art and music performances. Make simple Chinese style musical . Make drums from oatmeal containers and shakers from pill bottles and dried popcorn. Show children how to make a guitar from a Kleenex box with rubber bands stretched over the opening. Provide materials to decorate. 

Lunar New Year stories. This is the time for a quiet activity--children of all ages, even teenagers, enjoy story-telling. Dress in costume, add a few props and use different voices for different characters, you will have a spell-bound audience. If you are not comfortable reading aloud, use a story CD. Share the Chinese Zodiac story, to explain why the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and boar are so important. Provide animal masks, puppets or costumes so kid can act out story as a skit. Distribute musical instruments for children to play when each animal is mentioned. Or use a series of masks or puppets as you read the story. 

See this blog post for kids books, printables, crafts and activities on Chinese New Year. 

Chinese New year arts and crafts. The Spring Festival includes a Lantern Festival. Make a simple lantern by folding an 8 x 11 sheet of brightly colored construction paper in half lengthwise. Cut nine slits through the fold beginning one inch from each edge. The slits should be about 2-3 inches long. Open the paper. Bring the edges together widthwise and staple. The fold will open outward and the slits will form openings in the lantern. Decorate by stapling colored curled ribbon to the bottom. Here are free printable Chinese New Year crafts for children. 

Lunar New Year games: Form a dragon by making a line of children. Place hands on shoulders and follow the leader. Do whatever she does. Take turns being the leader. For older children, blindfold them. It will be anew experience to follow just felling what the person ahead is doing. Play hop monkey like leap frog. Or play Good Monkey, Naughty Monkey (like red light, green light). Sing Little Bunny Foo Foo and do the bunny hop. 

End the spring festival party with Chinese fireworks!

Health lesson plans to prevent juvenile obesity without mentioning weight loss


Increasing juvenile obesity is the elephant in the living room that everyone sees and no one want to address. More and more children are overweight and headed toward obesity. But discussing it or even being concerned about overweight kids is often regarded as fat-shaming or bullying. Here are lesson plans to prevent and treat childhood obesity without ever mentioning weight loss. 

Childhood obesity is tricky to deal with for two reasons. First, in puberty, many tweens get heavier and may even be called overweight by a doctor. But after puberty they slim down. This was my experience. Weight loss diets and calorie restricting may actually be dangerous. Calorie restricting such as the 1000 calorie diet I was put on at age 8, deprived me of nutrients needed for a growing body. It also caused eating disorder issues. Also, the extra weight is necessary for health after we lose weight in puberty. 

What is chronic obesity and what is overweight that will right itself after puberty? There are several factors. Is the entire family overweight? Is the child active or sedentary? How old is the child? A three-year old with obesity is more at risk than, say, a normal weight child who becomes overweight as a tween, as I did. This overweight period is usually temporary. And some kids are just bigger than others. 

Another issue is that overemphasis on weight loss can be a form of fat-shaming and bullying. It can also lead to eating disorders, low self esteem, anxiety and depression.  But yet, children with chronic obesity that will not disappear in puberty, are at risk of many other health problems including diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension and other issues. Movement and exercise are more difficult. 

So how to prevent or treat juvenile obesity without discussing weight loss? 

1) Food lesson plans aimed at healthy eating. Teach the food pyramid and food groups, using these free printable lesson plans.  Nutriton.gov has many free nutrition printables including recipes, My Plate activities, coloring pages, food diaries and lesson planners. Here are free printable food journals and nutrition trackers. 

2) Engage students in physical activities and active learning as much as possible. Use these free printable DEAM (Drop Everything and Move) activities. DEAM is like DEAR (Drop Everything and Read), which intersperses the school day with unplanned exercise or reading activities. I especially like DEAM because they are random surprise fun activities that get kids out of desks and moving. These might include dancing, calisthenics or active games.

3) Go off screen and hands-on. Most children spend more time watching than doing: TV, online on phones, computers and video game systems. I'm a Shipt shopper and its a sad commentary that when I drive thru neighborhoods in the summer, I see very few children out playing but TVs on or kids playing on phones. Utilize these free printable lesson plans on screen time dangers. Kids Health offers printables and resources to help kids understand why too much inactivity is harmful and how to monitor their screen time. 

4) Provide active activities in lieu of sedentary seat work and workbooks. Montessori type learning centers get kids off the seat and actively learning. Check out this blog for a gajillion learning center activities for science, math, reading, writing, social studies and more. Here are fitness activities to keep kids actively engaged. 

Will these activities end childhood obesity? Not alone. But with support, guidance, education and care, kids can learn to be their  healthiest selves. 


Nature science detective kit for cool back to school activities with free printables


Looking for cool back to school activities? Here are nature science lesson plans to make nature detective kits to explore wildlife science concepts. Free printables included. Kids will love playing nature CSI investigators! Homeschooling parents will love these inexpensive, hands-on science lesson plans. 

To make nature science detective kits, 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, Dollar Tree or Oriental Trading)

--cheap one-subject notebook 

--pocket folder 

--nitrol disposable gloves (latex free) 

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

--3 or 4 specimen bags (snack size Ziploc) 

--sheet of label stickers --pen and pencil 

-- roll of invisible Scotch tape 

--several pieces of yarn or string 

--box of crayons or colored pencils 

--measuring tape (here's a free printable measuring tape

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 9-3-2022" 

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. 

Here are free printable animal tracking guides and footprints. Use these as coloring pages also. 

Here's another free printable animal tracking guide

Here are free printable animal coloring pages and here's another set of animal printables and coloring pages

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


Best bibliotherapy books for kids on bullying prevention


Kids going back to school need more than just a notebook and a #2 sharpened pencil. They need to learn safety skills and essential to the toolkit are ways to deal with bullying. First, it's important to understand bullying. The bully stereotype is the Charles Atlas ad, where the big guy kicks sand in the little guy's face while the dismayed girl looks on. Bullying prevention was stereotypical too. "Frail, puny" boys were exhorted to build up their muscles, take on the bully and impress the girl. 

Dubious motive aside, it wrongly implies that "might makes right." Coping with bullies is about inner fortitude not brute strength. Even the term bullying prevention can be misleading. It suggests that the bullied are responsible for making bullies stop bullying. But bullying happens to people in all sizes, colors, abilities and orientations.  Kids don't do anything to make themselves targets. Bullies bully because they can. True bullying prevention tells bullies they can't and punishes them when they do. Having said that, it doesn't hurt to be prepared. 

 Here's a list of children's literature books on bullying to teach kids what bullying is, what it feels like and what to do if they are bullied. Bullying prevention happens in clever, avant-garde ways. Through gentle bibliotherapy for kids, children see bullying for the cowardice it is. These children's literature books on bullying help kids laugh at bullies and diffuse the pain and get past victimization to the find the chutzpah they need to deal with their bullies.

"Hooway for Wodney Wat" by Helen Lester. Poor timid Wodney Wat (Rodney Rat) can barely "squeak clearly" to his friends, let alone to big mean Camilla Capybara. But when the mouse-sized hero is forced to take on Camilla, rodent to rodent, everyone at P.S.182 School for Rodents hears the bully buster loud and clear. This is one of the most endearing children's literature books on bullying ever.

 "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig" by Eugene Trivizas. This fractured fairy tale gets my vote for funniest of the children's literature books on bullying. And therein lies the bibliotherapy for kids. There's a lesson to be learned when three gentle, peace-loving little wolves teach one pyromaniac pig bully to dance. 

"A Bargain for Francis" by Russel and Lillian Hoban. The redoubtable Francis badger brings off a scathingly brilliant coup over her devious, double-dealing frenemy Thelma. Bully buster Francis gets the prize for best plot twist in children's literature books on bullying. Here are realistic free printable coloring pages of badgers for kids to enjoy. 

"Ira Sleeps Over" by Bernard Waber. Ira loves his teddy Ta-Ta. When he's invited stay the night at his friend Reggie's house, his bullying big sister convinces him that "Reggie will laugh" at boys with bears. But Ira and Ta-Ta have the last laugh on sister. 

"The Bully of Barkham Street" by Mary Stolz is a tender, heart-jerking look at how a bully is grown. It's bullying prevention from the roots up. In this bibliotherapy for kids, children may find themselves sympathizing with the bully. 

"Mouse Soup" by Arnold Lobel. Fox wants to make soup out of Mouse, but Mouse pulls a Scheherazade and makes mincemeat of Fox. Children will howl as the bully gets his comeuppance.

 "The House on East 88th Street" by Bernard Waber teaches people not to judge a bully or a bully buster by his cover. You couldn't ask for a kinder crocodile than Lyle, but the neighbor cat Loretta is terrified that he's a bully. Read how Lyle befriends the fractious feline. For more bibliotherapy for kids, read Lyle's other adventures in diplomacy too. Here are some free printable crocodile coloring pages just for fun. 

"Thomas the Tank Engine" by Rev. W. Awdry. A little engine is alternately bullied then the bully. Will rascally Thomas ever learn that bigger isn't always better? Kids learn many important lessons watching cheeky Thomas epically fail and then rethink his choices. Here are some free printable Thomas the Tank Engine activities. 

"Emil and the Detectives" by Erich Kastner. Young Emil is stalked by some very fierce men with nasty intention, but this sensible, prescient but boy takes them on and saves the day. 

"Go Away Big Green Monster" by Ed Emberley. In what might be the most interactive bibliotherapy for kids (and a beloved favorite of our daughter Emma and her nephew Lucian), children take down a monster of a bully one piece at at time! Read these books for kids to explore creative bully buster ideas. 

Best wishes for a wonderful 22-23 school year!