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Showing posts with label lesson plans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lesson plans. Show all posts

Recycled trash crafts for Earth Day: Book-based endangered animals and habitats

 


April turns our minds to Earth Day, which has expanded into Earth Month. Build awareness of conservation and reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose with these recycle bin trash crafts. Today's trash crafts for kids feature book-based animals and habitats, student-designed from the recycle bin. 

Said it before and I'll say it on autoloop, the recycle bin is a teacher's /homeschooler's best friend. Making book-based animals and habitats from the recycle bin teaches students several important lessons about ecology. First, children explore animals and their habitats. If you swing these lesson plans toward endangered species, kids learn how and why animals become threatened or endangered. These earth science lesson plans have social studies connections too. 

Second, making recycled trash crafts teaches kids to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose. Making book-based endangered animals and habitat dioramas extends lesson plans to include art, literature, measurement math and inventiveness. Throw in Earth Day poem writing or have students compose a story about the endangered animals and you've got creative writing as well. 

For preschool students, I recommend using any of the Mousekin (Edna Miller), Leo Lionni or Eric Carle books for your book-based animal habitat diorama crafts. Research with children which of the animals is endangered or threatened and why. Both children's authors feature animals in habitats with simple drawings that can easily be created by children with items from the recycle bin. Leo Lionni illustrated his books to look like patterned pieces and scraps. 

Here are some free printable Eric Carle coloring pages and crafts to spur creativity. Here are links for free Leo Lionni resources. Not all work but some are still available. Here are free printable animal habitat activities

To make the animals, put out an assortment of paper and cardboard scraps, plastic, metal and glass packages, cardboard tubes, packing materials, mesh produce bags, foil, plastic lids, etc. Add fabric scraps, buttons, yarn, string and other nifty recycled items. Give students free reign to invent as they wish. 

Happy Earth Day and Earth Month! (The cats shown above are not endangered but they were just too cute not to share). 


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. 


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! 




Recycle bin crafts: sensory "touch and feel" animal habitat books for hands-on animal lesson plans

Want to make animal lesson plans more hands-on and interactive? Here are lesson plans to make sensory or "touch and feel" animal board books to provide tactile stimulation. Use these for preschool and special education for students with autism and special sensory needs. 

Start with my blog posts on free printable animal habitat lesson plans. You'll find loads of animal coloring pages, cut and paste habitat dioramas and zoology printables. After coloring and assembling, attach animal habitat pieces to recycled cardboard from recycle bin. I suggest cereal and food packaging weight cardboard for ease of use with scissors. Value added: these recycle bin crafts and science activities are perfect for Earth Day to practice ecology and environmental awareness. 

Next, hit up that recycle bin and fabric scrap basket for various textured materials to simulate animal habitat structures, nests and body coverings. Depending on age, have students cut or cut for them, pieces to attach to habitats and animals. What you're going for are the multisensory "touch and feel" animal board books such as babies like. 

Here are some suggested multisensory materials to use for different animal body coverings and habitat structures:
 

fake fur or carpet pieces for furry mammals (cats, tigers, rabbits, squirrels)

polar fleece for lambs, sheep and goats

felt for animals with hide, hair or short fur (primates, monkeys, dogs, horses and giraffes)

feathers for birds

straw or twigs for nests

rough sandpaper for habitats pebbly surfaces 

soft sandpaper for beach habitats

wood chips or bark for woodland and tree animal habitats

foil for snakes or fish with skin

sequined fabric for fish with scales

satin ribbon or soft plastic pieces (such as from milk jugs or dairy containers) for frogs, dinosaurs, amphibians and mammal fish (dolphins, whales, seals). Look for appropriate colors. 

straw for nests

cotton balls or stuffing for snowy arctic regions and polar habitats

corrugated cardboard for trees

burlap for toads, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, turtles, pigs and animals with rougher skin

construction paper, canvas or bumpy fabric for dens and caves (also sandpaper would work)

yarn, string, brush bristles (any kind) for lion, goats, giraffe, zebra, mule, donkey or horse mane or tail

You don't need to cover the entire surface, just a bit as multisensory "touch and feel" books do. Try include as many sensory elements in the animal "touch and feel" books for optimum VAKT lesson plans. Assemble pages in book format by punching three holes along the edge and tying together with shoelace, for added tactile stimulation. Use these for preschool, students with autism and special sensory and tactile needs. 






Cage-free Zoo Animal habitat lesson plans with free printable animal activities


I've been a teacher for 40 years and today I was going to share preschool lesson plans to make a zoo animal circus train from my early days. And I realized that lesson plans that feature animals behind bars are not really ethically, environmentally or animal friendly. Piggyback on this, a discussion with my oldest homeschooling daughter (second gen homeschool <3) how she was rethinking what she was teaching, taking kids to on zoo field trips, with animals locked in tiny, non-habitat appropriate cages. This includes aquariums and marine zoos, especially. If we learned anything from the film "Blackfish" about Tilikum the "killer" orca whale, it was the damaging effects cages have on animals. So here are cage-free zoo animal habitat and animal classification lesson plans with free printable activities. 

Visit animal friendly zoos. Happily, many zoos are redoing structures to move away from tiny cages to wide, open more habitat appropriate spaces. The Detroit Zoo and Toronto Zoo are examples. John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Mich., still has cages but new structures are more open. And even if you don't want to visit the zoo, check their website for free printable animal lesson plans. JBZ and the Detroit Zoo and probably all zoos have lesson plans and printables on animal classification, animal body coverings, adaptation, habitats and more. 

Research petting zoos. Maybe they've improved over the years, but we've had some unpleasant experiences at petting zoos. Tired, uncomfortable and even neglected animals forced to interact with mobs of people who aren't always respectful of the animals is a recipe for disaster. Pun intended, "vet" petting zoos before visiting. This includes any zoo day camps or zoo school experiences. 

Visit animal sanctuaries, nature centers, wildlife preserves and animal hospitals. Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., is a good example. Yes, animals are in cages, but that is for their protection. All have been injured, maimed or in some way damaged by interaction with humans. Our youngest daughter was sensitized, then incensed seeing a bobcat that had been taken captive for a wildlife circus and declawed. He is literally helpless. It's a sad but relevant object lesson on why animals should be protected, not endangered. Blandford has a beautiful wildlife preserve, nature center and animal hospital that rehabs injured animals for reintegration to the wild.  Visit any nature center or wildlife preserve near you. Most all will have free printable animal lesson plans and activities to further study. 

Make animal habitat dioramas. Use my lesson plans to make animal habitat dioramas and here are free printable animal habitat diorama cut and paste coloring pages. Teach biodiversity, animal classification, body coverings, animal tracking and more! Make animal activities VAKT and special education friendly, by adding "touch and feel" elements to habitats. Use straw, fabric, fake fur, bumpy and textured surfaces to simulate animal body coverings and nest or dwelling materials. More on that later! 




Valentine Heart Party with science and health lesson plans, activities and printables

 


Are you looking for some fresh Valentine's Day party activities, beyond the usual valentine exchange, candy blast and heart crafts? How about swinging your holiday party health themed with these fun, active, not-boring heart health lesson plans and activities?

Parts of the body lesson plans: see my earlier blog post for tons of free printable health lesson plans including human body coloring pages circulatory system printables. Use these to create a parts of the body paper bag vest or T-shirt. Younger students color cut and paste parts of the body and assemble them on a paper bag vest. Older students draw, color and label body parts on a long-sleeved T-shirt. 

Heart healthy snacks: Instead of the standard Valentine's Day fare of candy, cookies and cupcakes, why not make heart smart goodies in class? Make a shared fruit and veggie rainbow. Set up stations for students to prep food and design in a big beautiful rainbow! The rainbow diet is one of the heart healthiest there is.  Mix and match with any of these rainbow fruits and vegetables. Extend health lesson plans to include physics science activities on light, spectrum and rainbow.

RED:  strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate, dragonfruit, red leaf or romaine lettuce, watermelon, radishes, grapes, pepper, tomatoes

ORANGE: peppers, carrots, oranges, mango, peaches, nectarines, cantaloupe, squash, sweet potato, pumpkin

YELLOW: peppers, lemon, pineapple, summer squash, wax beans

GREEN: grapes, kiwi, broccoli, beans, spinach, lettuce, spring mix, kale, peas, honeydew melon, avocado, cucumber, scallions, peppers, endive

BLUE: blueberries, blue grapes, potatoes (look in tri-color blend), peppers

INDIGO: prune plums, prunes, figs, eggplant, blackberries, currants

PURPLE: cabbage, broccoli, grapes, purple carrots, purple asparagus

Heart healthy games: Engage kids in relay races, aerobics, jump rope, jumping jacks, yoga, obstacle courses, fitness stations, trampoline, stretching, windmills, "bicycles" throwing and catching and climbing. Try to avoid competition and encourage personal achievement. You can do a range of movement activities that require no equipment.

Dance party: what better way to round our your Valentine's Day heart party than with dancing? Play fun, upbeat music and let kids work off desk-time pent up energy! Songs kids love include "Hamster Dance" "Baby Shark" "Gummy Bears" "Hand Jive" and "I can make your hands clap." 

Happy heart day! 




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! 

The Very Best Educational App in the World

If the Covid 19 pandemic taught us anything it's how valuable a tool digital resources are. However, computers, internet, cellphones, are far too overused and abused. It was honestly sad for me as a long-term educator to see how parents, having to keep kids home, were so quick to run to computers, apps and internet to educate their kids, when there are so many easy, free, hands-on teaching tools to use. I'm not talking about middle or high school students who arguably need computers to do their schoolwork. Arguably. Even, or maybe especially they, need fewer interactive games and more active learning.  I'm speaking of preschool and early elementary age kids. Most all children could do with less or no screen time and more hands-on activities. And Covid 19 was a perfect time to do that. 

I'm not faulting you parents who bought online curriculum or used computer resources. The task of homeschooling often seems daunting. But the good news is that most all of you are homeschooling every day, independent of computers or phones, without even realizing it. You teach your children valuable life skills every time you plan and prep a meal or snack together, read together, visit the doctor or library, go to the grocery store or just take a walk. Kids learn fine and gross motor skills building blocks and practical life skills playing house and communication playing dress up. 

In this blog, I've shared ways to turn your home into a tech-free school, with just simple household items and basic toys. You don't need a big house or fancy materials. You don't even need a designated room or space. I created learning centers in our homeschool when we lived in a small single wide mobile home. We didn't use TV except to play a movie once a week and the "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" ritual. 

The secret is to make every experience a learning opportunity. Not an artificial or contrived "lesson plan." You just incorporate little nugget lessons into everything you do, naturally, organically. Teachable moments are right there for the enjoying. You don't ever need a screen. 

Is it okay to use TV or computers? Of course! Do kids need to be computer savvy? Ye..es, but no fear there. They get all the screen experience they need without having to add more. I think they're hardwired to it now. Or it's something in the water source. What they need are engaged parents, monitored computer time, and online safety courses. And most of all, tons of outdoor time, free play, open-ended experiences, experiments, exploration, books, tree-climbing, sand castles, dancing, polliwogs, messes, beaches, forts in the woods and fresh air! 

And the good news? Those are all free! They don't require an app download or phone memory. They don't drain battery life! If you or your kids are screen addicted (don't be embarrassed to say, we've all been there), shut it down. Go out the door into the best app ever, called the big wide world! I guarantee you'll all feel better, breathe better, think better and have the times of your lives!  (Picture above is "school" from the inside out!)




 reservations. 

Healthy School Lunch Recipes: handhelds, pizza, tacos, burritos and breadless sandwiches


Juvenile obesity is a growing problem in the US and other nations. More kids experience excessive weight gain, not tween-age weight that will drop off after puberty, but life-long and are at risk of obesity-related health problems. There are some very simple strategies parents can use to help children with or at risk of obesity, without ever  mentioning weight loss. The two most important being diet and exercise. I'm not talking about diet as in specific calorie restricting. I mean monitoring what kids eat to ensure that they get maximum nutrition without extra junk calories. Here are healthy school lunch recipes for handhelds, "burritos" and breadless sandwiches to prevent childhood obesity. 

Handhelds such as sandwiches, burgers, burritos and hot dogs are the perfect school lunch food because they are less messy. And that's an important key right there. You can practice junk calorie restricting and  mess by just minimizing the condiments and using judicious condiment food swaps. Butter, mayo, jam and jelly, ketchup, mustard, dips and spreads are really not necessary in the amounts we use. Condiments alone contribute an inordinate amount to the calorie count while providing no real benefit. Some super nutritious condiment food swaps include:

cashew or almond butter (I'm a peanut butter girl, but sadly some schools have kyboshed peanut butter due to allergies. They shouldn't because it's just making allergies worse, but I digress)

hummus (look for lower fat, higher protein varieties or make your own)

salsa or pico de gallo (choose low sugar and low sodium and high veggie varieties. Eating salsa is a great potassium boost to prevent dehydration)

Some essential food swaps for sandwiches and burritos include low carb and keto breads and tortillas. So you probably know that white foods: bleached flour and sugar are the biggest problems with tortillas. Dr. Now of the anti-obesity reality TV show "My 600-lb Life" targets these on his "no white food" diet. But you can make a simple switch to low carb tortillas that provide a fiber and protein punch while still calorie restricting. Or go completely off book with breadless sandwiches wrapped in lettuce or kale leaves. 

Burritos, tacos and other handheld favorites can be reinvented in an endless number of ways for calorie restricting but also to boost nutrition. Spread almond butter on a low carb or keto tortilla and wrap around apple slices or a banana. Or spread with hummus, a little salsa and loads of fresh veggies. Or a cheese stick. Wrap tightly and slice, for pinwheels or "sushi." Speaking of sushi, why not make sushi rolls for super healthy school lunches?

Make pizza handhelds using thin crust pizza or low carb keto tortilla like Joseph's pita pockets or flax wraps or Light and Fit wraps. Spread with a little spaghetti sauce, sprinkle with low moisture mozzarella and turkey pepperoni. Make your own "make-your-own" Lunchables that kids can assemble at school. 

There are so many ways to keep kids fit and healthy without ever mentioning weight loss or diet. And add value by getting kids involved packing their own school lunches. Here are some free printable lesson plans on nutrition to help.  




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.


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. 


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! 

A-Z Healthy Snacks for Kids with free printable Food themed lesson plans


Looking for food themed lesson plans for children? Here is a list of A-Z healthy snacks for kids that children as young as toddlers can help make. Turn these into Book BAGS (Book based activities, games and snacks) my term for story party planners. 

Books to read include:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle) Here's a link to my post on Very Hungry Caterpillar printables.

Eating the Alphabet (Lois Ehlert) click here for free printable book and activities

Complete Children's Cookbook (Jill Bloomfield) Click this link for a free printable book PDF.  

Activities:

Prepare A-Z snacks with children.

Have students create pictograph recipes of their snacks and then alphabetize the recipe cards. 

Games:

Sort foods by color and food group.

Snacks 

A--apples with almond butter, almond milk (doesn't spoil as quickly as cow's milk), dried apricots, Mott's for Tots low sugar apple juice, avocado sandwiches (sliced on whole grain bread with light cream cheese)

B--bananas, berries, bread sticks, broccoli florets and Maple Grove Farms sugarfree raspberry vinaigrette. 

C--baby carrots and cauliflower florets, cheese and crackers

D--homemade ranch dip (Parmesan cheese, sugarfree almond milk, black pepper, garlic) and sliced vegetables

E--hard-boiled eggs

F--dried fruit, cut fruit, figs 

G--granola, GORP (good old raisins and peanuts), grapes

H--hummus and homemade pita chips (pita bread toasted and cut in triangles)

I--Individual fruit or pudding cups 

J--juice boxes

K--Kashi or other dry breakfast cereal trail mix. Blend similar flavors of finger-friendly cereal--Chex, Cheerios, Life

L--licorice (low sugar), lemonade

M--soy milk (non-refrigerated kind has longer shelf life), muffins (made your regular recipe using flaxseed and applesauce in place of oil and eggs)

N--nut and seed medley. Mix hulled almonds, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, filberts, macadamia, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds

O--olives (drained), South Beach Diet, Kellogg's, Luna, Bare Naked oatmeal protein bars

P--pretzels, popcorn, cold pizza, pumpkin cookies (substitute applesauce and pumpkin for eggs and oil)

Q--quick oat no-bake cookies. Melt peanut butter, chocolate chips and add quick cook oats. Drop in spoonfuls. Roll in powdered milk (or Quick drink). Allow to harden. 

R--Roll-ups. Spread tortilla with cream cheese. Layer Hormel Natural lunchmeat, leaf lettuce, tomato. Place cheese stick in center. Roll, slice in pinwheels. 

S--Sandwich squares. Make sandwiches (easy on condiments for less mess). Cut in quarters. Make PBJ, tuna, egg salad. 

 

T--homemade tortilla chips (toast tortilla till crispy) and salsa

U--upside-down, inside-out cookies. Crush graham crackers, add raisins, blend with peanut butter and vanilla. Form into balls. Roll in powdered milk. 

V--cut veggies and dip, vegetable chips

W--water, watermelon chunks

X--extra napkins (I'll bet you wondered what I'd find for "X"!)

Y--individual Greek yogurt, yogurt covered pretzels

Z--zucchini spears and cheese dip (shredded cheese, cream cheese, celery seed, dill, yogurt blended till smooth)

Book BAGS: Moon and stars night sky lesson plans for summer story party planner


Book BAGS is a unit lesson plans "meme" I've developed which stands for stands for Book based activities, games and snacks...in short, it's my preschool story party planner with a fancshy new name. Today's Book BAGS theme is moon and stars and night sky. And I can't think of a better book series to use than Frank Asch "Moon Bear." 

Happy Birthday, Moon

Moonbear's Skyfire

Moongame

MoonDance

Mooncake

And other moon-themed stories. Here's the Moonbear list from Thriftbooks. In these stories, Moonbear has lovely adventures with the moon who he thinks of as his best friend. The moon is just doing what moons do (cast shadows, go behind clouds, etc). But Moonbear believes that they're happening just for him. And who knows? Maybe they are. I would like to have the moon as a friend, wouldn't you? 

At any rate, these are perfect summer story party materials. So here's the Book BAGS party planner for Moonbear. These were written especially for my son Jakob who first introduced us to Moonbear (before he was Moonbear in his earlier book "Milk and Cookies." Jakob used, as a tot, to "find the moon" every night with Daddy. They are also for our adult children and grandchildren who keep the ritual alive and who have found that we all see the moon, whether in Louisiana, Michigan, Texas or Cleveland! 

First, select one of the Moonbear books. You could do a different one each night for a fortnight of moon themed lesson plans. If possible, wait till near dark and read the story aloud. Then, activity one, find the moon. Older children can enjoy learning the moon phases while preschool will love pretending on new moon nights, that he's playing hide-n-seek (see Moongame). 

Other craft activities might include drawing the moon on black construction paper with neon or glow-in-the-dark crayons or markers. Provide some fluffy cotton ball clouds for moon to hide behind. Add metallic star stickers. Don't forget to draw yourself and/or Moonbear, outside playing. Older kids might make a moon phases flip book. Use free printable moon coloring pages (Best Coloring Pages for Kids) or these free printable moon activities from Coloring Home. You can get free printable moon lesson plans from NASA, too. 

Have a campout under the stars. Or leave the curtains open so moon can shine in.  Hide the moon (large yellow ball) and find it. Sing "I see the moon and the moon sees me." (Youtube has many song options. Read Moondance and make up your own dances! 

Science activities include discussing the various concepts introduced in the books: light and shadow, moon phases, hibernation, clouds and rain, precipitation. 

For the snack part of the Book BAGS story party, cut circles of white or yellow cheese. Make them into various moon phases waxing/waning crescent or waxing/waning gibbous. Serve with moon crackers (Ritz). Make moon popcorn balls (popcorn and melted marshmallows, like Rice Krispie treats). Lemonade is moon juice. Make Mooncake (snow cones). 

Stay tuned for more Book BAGS! (Picture is me playing Hide and Seek with you!) 







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 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. 



A-Z healthy school lunches for hands-on nutrition lesson plans


Childhood obesity, juvenile diabetes, Covid 19, gluten and nut allergies--schools and parents face these and so many more health concerns. Health is about more than just treatment. Prevention is the key. Along with the sanitizer and mask, don't forget to pack healthy school lunches. Looking for portable lunchbox foods kids will love? Here's monthly lunch menu of easy, healthy school lunch recipes from A-Z!  Engage kids packing their own school lunches with these easy kid-friendly lunch recipes. Teach them to read product nutrition data. Some "healthy foods" are surprisingly unhealthy and some brands are healthier than others. Use snack-sized zippered bags for kid-friendly portion control and to avoid waste. Rotate this lunch menu monthly so kids won't get bored.

A+ Applewich: Spread light oat grain or keto bread with almond butter or natural peanut butter (no transfat). Add sliced apples or apple butter. These will be in hot demand on your monthly lunch menu.

Banana Boats--cut two slits in banana and peel back skin part way. Remove a little banana and fill with peanut butter and apple slices. Save removed banana for PBB sandwiches (lunch recipes below)

Jeef Berky (our silly name for homemade beef jerky) Click here for my obesity-busting beef jerky recipe! 

Cheez-apps--Cheez-its crackers with dried apples or apple slices--sprinkle apples with lemon juice and store separately in school lunchbox.

Dogs in the blanket--Wrap Smart dogs (made with tofu) or string cheese in lettuce leaves. Add no HFCS ketchup or honey mustard if desired. 

Eggs Devilishly Good--Hard boil eggs, chill and peel. Rinse and slice lengthwise. Remove yolk and mash it with mustard, light olive oil mayo or light thousand island dressing, dill weed and paprika. Fill egg cavities. 

Fruit Max--Mix dried apricots, cranberries, raisins, apples, guava, papaya (don't get sugared ones) with nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and pretzels

GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) or dried cranberries, almonds, walnuts or any nuts! These travel well in a school lunchbox.

Hors d'oeuvre (pronounced, for fun, horsie doover) Poke small stick pretzels into cheese cubes

Happy Trails Mix-- Mix unsweetened breakfast cereal (Chex or Cheerioes), pretzels, dried fruit or sundried tomatoes, cheese cubes and dark chocolate chips (just a few) for a yummy healthy school lunch. 

Insanely Healthy Peanut Butter Dip (peanut butter and plain Greek yogurt mixed half and half) with rice crackers, strawberries, pineapple, baby carrots, green pepper spears.

Jumble nut butter oatmeal cookies--Swap oil for flaxseed and sugar for banana. Mix with different nut butters (peanut, cashew, almond or sunflower) and mixed nuts and seeds for remarkably filling protein alternatives for vegetarian school lunch recipes.

Kangaroo Sandwiches--Stuff pita pocket bread with lettuce and chicken or tuna salad. Mix tuna or chicken with light mayo, spicy mustard, chopped celery, apples, grapes, nuts and black pepper. Be sure to call it Kangaroo Sandwiches on the school lunch menu!

Lighten Up Roll-ups--For gluten-free roll-ups, skip bread or wraps.  Spread lettuce leaf with cream cheese or cottage cheese, uncured turkey lunchmeat, tomato and/or onion slices. Roll and slice. For keto, use a keto high protein wrap.

Mucho Guacamole Boats--remove pits from avocado and scrape out avocado. Mix with lemon juice, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, onions for guacamole. Fill skin with guacamole and sprinkle with cheese. Send chips separately. If gluten-free or keto, substitute cauliflower chips. How's that for super healthy school lunches in minutes?

Nuts and bolts--Mix low sugar breakfast cereals like Cheerios, Life, Chex, Corn Flakes, Wheaties and Special K. Add dried fruit. Pack organic protein milk, almond milk or lowfat milk boxes for healthy school lunch or breakfast cereal.

Olives overboard pasta salad--Cook whole grain pasta, drain and chill. Add cubed feta cheese, cucumber chunks, green and black olives and a little olive oil for vegetarian lunch recipes.

Po'boy Shish Kebobs: Skewer Swiss cheese chunks, pickles and all natural Al Fresco chicken sausage slices on toothpicks.

PBB sandwiches. Make peanut butter sandwiches with banana slices.

Quick school lunchbox recipes--Pita chips and hummus with baby carrots--Teens love these lunchbox foods.

Raw colored peppers and yogurt salad dressing (store separately). Yogurt dressing is Greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice, feta cheese, pepper, dill, rosemary, oregano and sage.

Smoked almonds, broccoli, berries and yogurt dip--How's that for super portable vegetarian lunchbox foods.

Sailboat Sandwiches: PBJ sandwich cut diagonally (for boat) and then one half in half again (sails). Use light whole grain bread, natural peanut butter and low sugar jam.

Tomatoes or baby carrots and hummus are another teen lunch pleaser.

Very Vegetarian Veggie burger: Mash beans and mix with chopped veggies. Cook ahead and make into sandwich.

Wagon wheels--Cut sliced cheese round using mouth of small glass. Place inside two crackers. (This was Timer's recipe in the old Saturday morning PSAs "Time for Timer." )

Under the Sea. Serve Goldfish crackers with foil tuna packets or imitation crab sticks. Add cucumber slices and watermelon chunks for quick lunch recipes.

X-tra quick school lunches--Serve healthy power bars like Annie's or Luna bars. These make great school snacks or lunches that satisfy.

YOLO--Lemon or orange flavored yogurt cups or Greek yogurt cups like Light and Fit, Stonyfield, Oikos, Dannon, Chobani. Avoid "kid" yogurt or yogurts with granola, candy, dyes or junk in them. Choose small yogurt cups for less waste. Or mix plain Greek yogurt with organic lemonade, peeled grapefruit and oranges. Serve with nuts for vegetarian, keto and gluten-free school lunches. Filled with immunity boosting antioxidants, these help prevent Covid 19. 

Zucchini "Sushi" Rollups--Spread turkey lunch meat or cheese slice with cream cheese and wrap around skinny spears of zucchini, carrots, green peppers, cucumbers and scallions.

You can beat childhood obesity without ever mentioning the word "diet." And these healthy school lunches boost immunity and so keep even Covid 19 at bay! Use the recipes on nutrition lesson plans. 



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!


Medieval history lessons plans: Cardboard castle crafts, princess crafts with printables


I am a self-avowed history fanatic, particularly the medieval period. I also love things princess. And being a teacher, homeschool mom, education blogger and now Omi (gramma), I'm always looking to create hands-on lesson plans.  To that end, here's a guide to making recycled cardboard castle crafts with free printables. Use these are recycled cardboard crafts for kids in many cross-curricular lessons: preschool learning center activities, theater and dress up fun, arts and crafts, STEM and history lesson plans. These medieval crafts include a homemade cardboard castle, costumes and props. Homeschool parents, I promise ways to engage all ages, from baby to teen! 

(Materials are noted in BOLD CAPS within the how-to guide)

1) Make cardboard castle walls. Cut open two large RECYCLED CARDBOARD REFRIGERATOR BOXES along one long side. TAPE (duct tape works best as it resembles grey stone) two boxes together to make an octagon castle "keep." Measure, draw out and cut cardboard castle battlements (great STEM activities). History note: Castle walls had a series of crenellations and merlons (squared edge thingies) along the top. Tim's Printables has free printable recycled cardboard castle patterns for medieval crafts and castle design ideas. Cut cardboard castle keep windows: Draw a four-pane window and cut openings for the princess to look out of. 

2) Decorate recycled cardboard castle. Draw in bricks and family crest to make these medieval crafts for kids look really authentic! For more STEM fun, make moat and drawbridge. Cut drawbridge opening in the side of cardboard castle. Attach YARN or ROPE to both sides of to lower and raise drawbridge. Cut holes in the top to tie drawbridge closed when the royal inhabitants aren't receiving company. Place BLUE BLANKETS around the outside for the castle moat. Fill with STUFFED ANIMALS dragons, fish, alligators and other aquatic creatures. Add some PLANTS to make it more realistic and discuss wetland habitat science. Toddlers and preschoolers can take on the job of gathering and arranging flora and fauna.  

3) Make flags for cardboard castle. Aristocrats and nobles in medieval times had a coat-of-arms or family crest that symbolized their lineage. The design and display of a coat-of-arms is known as heraldry. A coat-of-arms was placed on banners flown when the family was in residence. Banners were carried on standards into battles. Have kids design their royal family crest. Here are free printable heraldry patterns and stencils for medieval crafts for kids. Make banners on  SCRAP FABRIC SQUARES CUT FROM OLD BED SHEETS OR TOWELS. Attach to YARD STICK OR HOT DOG STICK. Draw or paint family crest using MARKERS OR FABRIC PAINT. Older kids can make these as history lesson plans. 

4) Make secret entrances for your recycled cardboard castle (my grandkids favorite part!)  Line chairs up to make a crawl-through tunnel entrance into castle. Drape sheets, blankets and bed linens over tunnel. Establish cardboard castle dungeon. Make a parapet (walkway) by placing several chairs or a bench along the inside edge of the castle. Soldiers keep lookout here and send prisoners to sit under the chairs in the dungeon sit under bench. Fashion a turret. Put a collapsible net laundry hamper upside down on a chair inside the castle. Children crawl into hamper and onto chair to look out of the turret. These are perfect jobs for youngers. They will love exploring, arranging and guarding the cardboard castle as part of their dramatic play learning center activities. 

5) Outfit your royals. Haul out the DRESS UP BIN and collect OLD TOWELS, BED SHEETS AND BLANKETS. Donate JUNK JEWELRY and OLD FANCY DRESS. Make recycled cardboard crown crafts for the princess with these free printable crowns from First-Palette. Use this guide to make a suit of armor cardboard crafts for a knight. More STEM lesson plans! 

6) Equip the keep. The keep is the living area of a castle. Let kids fill their cardboard castle keep with snacks, blankets, pillows, coloring supplies, books and pets. When the novelty of guarding the castle wears off, kids can use it as a cozy play fort. Set your homemade castle up in a place where it can be left up for other rainy day fun or make it convertible to go outdoors on nice days!

Stay tuned for more medieval crafts! Picture is courtesy of Free Coat of Arms (couldn't find my last name, alas!)