The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

paint and paint brushes laid out

November 13, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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The Case for Art in Schools and Ways to Integrate Art into Your Lessons

Art is getting squeezed out of the curriculum. Yet art shouldn’t be an afterthought in our children’s education, but integrated into every subject to inspire students’ creativity, emotion, and higher-level thinking.

Evan-Moor Educational Publishers was founded by two teachers who were passionate about incorporating art into the curriculum. The first book ever published by Evan-Moor, in 1970, Art Moves the Basics Along, incorporated basic drawing activities into lessons to motivate children to learn. We still believe that art is an important component of today’s curriculum!

Here are three top reasons to preserve art lessons in schools and suggestions for integrating art activities to inspire children to learn:

Why We Should Keep Art Lessons in Schools

  1. The arts are an important component of learning and brain development in young students. Art lessons develop students’ essential thinking tools, such as pattern recognition and symbolic and abstract representations, while supporting core content areas.
  2. Art influences all areas of the curriculum. The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth Study revealed that access to arts in education improves children’s psychological, social, and academic outcomes, especially for low-income students.
  3. Art can improve students’ motivation, concentration, and collaboration with peers and build lasting connections between students and their community. Integrate the Arts, Deepen the Learning demonstrates how one school developed their students’ critical thinking and collaboration skills through thoughtful integration of the arts into their curriculum. Student engagement increased significantly within the school with the infusion of art-related lessons and content.

Ways to Integrate Art into Your Curriculum

Even if your school does not have an art instructor, you can still find simple ways of incorporating art into your busy school day. By taking the time to complete an art project, you can encourage creative thinking and expression within your classroom.

For example, combine your math lesson on repeating patterns and geometry with an art lesson on tessellations. (A tessellation is a repeating pattern of geometric shapes.) Download your free tessellations art activity here (from How to Teach Art to Children). This art lesson includes a brief study of the famous artist M.C. Escher and additional literature references about his work.

 

If you are looking for simple, age-appropriate art activities, How to Teach Art to Children and ArtWorks for Kids are great options with hundreds of art project ideas. These resources include step-by-step instructions, teach the elements of art, and include accompanying literature describing the famous artists who used these techniques.

From: How to Teach Art to Children

From: How to Teach Art to Children

From: ArtWorks for Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you incorporate art into your lessons? Please share.


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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November 7, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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Patriotic Lessons and Activities for Veterans Day

Veterans Day lessons and activities teach our students about the sacrifices and patriotism of American soldiers who have served our country. American history lessons are important to help students understand the meaning and significance behind this holiday.

November 11 marks a national holiday that honors the men and women who have served in our armed forces. It was originally called Armistice Day to commemorate the end of WWI and the signing of the armistice in 1918 “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” It was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to include veterans of all wars.

Honor veterans in your community by engaging in one of these Veterans Day activities:

  1. Invite a local veteran to come to your classroom and share his/her experience.
  2. Write thank-you letters to local veterans within your community.
  3. Teach about the origins of the American flag and what it symbolizes. Download this free unit for grades 1–3: Name That Flag
  4. Give students a brief history of Washington D.C. and take them on a map tour of our nation’s capital. Download this free unit for grades 4–6: Our Nation’s Capital.
  5. Brainstorm and write about ways students can serve their community and country.

Cover image of U.S Facts and Fun activity bookName That Flag lesson for grades 1-3

U.S Facts and Fun cover image of workbook for grades 4-6Our Nation's Capital lesson for grades 4-6

Carve out some time in your classroom to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our veterans.

Save this Patriotic Lessons and Activities pin on Pinterest.


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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pumpkin pie classroom activity directions

November 1, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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Pie, Please! – Creative Writing Prompts for November and Thanksgiving

pumpkin pie classroom activity directionsKeep students writing in November with Thanksgiving-themed creative writing prompts. These topics can be used as journal free writes or paragraph-writing practice.

Free Creative Writing Activity – Pie, Please!

In this Thanksgiving creative writing activity, students are asked to imagine their favorite kind of pie and describe what happens next when they see the pie sitting on the counter, just waiting. Ideal for grades 2–6.

Story Starters:

  • Five things I am most thankful for
  • Compare the first Thanksgiving to the way your family celebrates
  • Pretend you are living in Plymouth Colony and write a letter to a friend in London
  • If I could speak to Squanto, I would ask…
  • If I were a child on the Mayflower…

Quick Write Topics:

  • If I were an animal, I would be…
  • The food I like the most
  • The food I hate the most
  • How to grow a pumpkin
  • Grandma’s house

These creative writing prompts are from Giant Write Every Day: Daily Writing Prompts, grades 2–6.

 

Save this “Pie, Please” writing activity pin on Pinterest.

 


Image of Theresa WoolerTheresa Wooler has more than 10 years’ experience in K–6 classrooms as a parent volunteer and homeschool educator, has taught high school English, and is currently involved in education through Evan-Moor’s marketing communications team

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Beginning cursive instruction paper

October 31, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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Cursive…Is It a Necessity or a Waste of Time?

Beginning cursive instruction paperMany argue that cursive is an obsolete skill in today’s technology-driven world. What is the best way to approach handwriting instruction in schools? Should cursive instruction be replaced with technology?

Handwriting, both manuscript and cursive, are important foundations in children’s development of thinking, language, and memory. Studies have repeatedly proved that writing verses typing stimulates the connections between the right and left hemispheres of the brain in areas of memory and language. In a 2014 study from The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking, students who hand wrote their notes outperformed their typing peers on conceptual questions in three separate studies. However, is it necessary to teach both?

Hidden handwriting benefits

“I don’t want my children wasting their time on something they will never use,” is a common phrase I hear. However, what these parents are not taking into account are the hidden benefits to children of written expression.

All children develop their own type of writing by the time they enter middle school. The method they choose for taking notes and writing is the fastest and most efficient method for them. Differentiation within education allows children the freedom to study with the learning method that best suits their brain development. If we eliminate cursive in support of more technological pursuits such as coding, we will be handicapping a generation of young learners.

Teach it and let the students decide

Schools should make a little time in their curriculum for cursive instruction. Just as we support music, art, technology, and physical education within our schools, we must include this learning tool as a foundational stepping stone for students to make discoveries about themselves and how they learn.

In your child’s school, typing should not replace handwriting instruction. Studies show that these two skills activate very different parts of the brain. In a study conducted by Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at the University of Washington, they found that neural development increases in language, memory, word recognition, and emotion with handwriting verses typing.

Easy methods for teaching handwriting

Cover of cursive handwriting bookIf you are looking for simple and easy resources to practice handwriting at home or school, check out Evan-Moor’s Daily Handwriting Practice. Available for grades K–6, Daily Handwriting Practice is available in four titles: modern manuscript, traditional manuscript, traditional cursive, and contemporary cursive. Daily writing exercises help students master handwriting skills in 15 minutes a day or less.

What does the research say?

Campaign for Cursive research

What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking

 


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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Pilgrim turkey holding Thanksgiving lessons

October 23, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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Easy and Inspiring Thanksgiving Lessons and Activities

Keep students focused through the holidays with quality Thanksgiving lessons, crafts and games on the pilgrims, Plymouth, and the Mayflower. These Thanksgiving lessons and activities are a great addition to the classroom and don’t require too much prep work to re-create.

Thanksgiving Holiday and Making Connections with History
The busy holiday season is the perfect time for introducing history in the classroom. Students are naturally excited and filled with anticipation. Take advantage of this winning combination by providing hands-on activities and projects that bring Thanksgiving history alive! This post includes free Thanksgiving printables including Thanksgiving paper art projects (cornucopia, Pilgrim girl and boy, a Native American, Mayflower) and History Pockets: Colonial America activities.

10 Thanksgiving Activities That Don’t Require Worksheets
November is a busy month for teachers. Between assessments and fall conferences, it can be difficult to factor in holiday activities and crafts. Here are some fun Thanksgiving-themed activities to inspire you that don’t require a lot of time in front of the copier.

 

 

Turkey Craft and Activities for Thanksgiving
Get a new twist on turkeys this year with this 3D wall art. The colorful feathers, simple materials, and easy instructions will have your students creating display-worthy Thanksgiving art. Incorporate some fun turkey facts and writing activities to craft your own thematic unit for the season.

 

 

Let’s Talk Turkey (Animal Research for Kids)
Do you have kids who enjoy learning about animals? When kids are interested in a topic, their motivation is golden! Create your own turkey research report with these resources and free printables!

 

 

 


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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October 12, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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Daily Science Warm-ups for Inquiry-Based Learning

Teach your students to become critical thinkers and researchers with inquiry-based learning science lessons. Daily science warm-ups based on this model also activate students’ interest in a topic, which contributes to learning.

The benefits of inquiry-based learning

Inquiry-based learning is a wonderful addition to any classroom curriculum.

  • The teacher becomes a facilitator rather than a lecturer.
  • Inquiry-based learning is student centered. Students take on the roles of researcher, writer, and presenter.
  • Within this teaching model there are four stages: structured inquiry, controlled inquiry, guided inquiry, and free inquiry. Each stage scaffolds the question and research process to prepare students to complete a free inquiry independently.
  • All four stages work well together to support students’ basic knowledge and deepen their understanding.

Daily science workbook Creating inquiry-based science warm-ups with Daily Science

Structured inquiry is the first step in introducing inquiry-based learning to your classroom. Within this model, the teacher asks questions that students answer. This level allows the teacher to prep students to actively think about the topic introduced—and increases interest and attention.

Daily Science activities provide an easy way to incorporate structured inquiry in your science curriculum. The weekly units focus on a big question such as “Why can’t you breathe in outer space?” or “Is it safe to eat moldy food?” The daily activities are perfect for science warm-ups and use an inquiry-based model to help students answer the weekly question and understand concepts. Daily Science is based on national science standards and follows your science curriculum, building students’ content knowledge and vocabulary through the inquiry process.

  1. Display the weekly science question for students to see. Ex: “Why do leaves change color in the fall?”
  2. Ask students to brainstorm answers (whole class or with partners).
  3. Write or map the student answers on the board.
  4. Discuss and introduce the science warm-up activity for the day, including new vocabulary. Here’s a sample unit for daily warm-ups.
  5. Review the weekly question each day to introduce the related science warm-up activity.
  6. Use the content as a springboard for student projects and research in a controlled or guided inquiry. For example, students could research plant parts or plant adaptations.

Increasing your students’ curiosity increases their learning. Motivate your students this year with leading questions and research topics they care about.

Download this Daily Science sampler to see the inquiry-based lessons for grades 1–6.

For more information on the inquiry-based learning model, see What the Heck Is Inquiry-Based Learning?


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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Halloween pumpkin filled with candy

October 12, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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Halloween Math Center Activity: Candy Counting

Halloween pumpkin filled with candyCombine your Halloween and math lessons with this hands-on candy counting lesson. Perfect for developing students’ critical thinking skills, this Halloween activity offers practice with data collection, graphing, and algebraic thinking. Try this candy math activity for classroom centers or a Halloween party idea. Candy graphing is sure to be a hit with students!

Materials

Plastic bags with assortment of Halloween candy: 8 varieties in random amounts

Crayons (up to ten colors)

Student record sheet (download your free copy here)

Halloween Candy Counter Center for graphing and data collection.

Directions

  1. Each student receives a record sheet, crayons, and bag of assorted candy (decide ahead of time the rules for eating/keeping candy).
  2. Students sort and record the amount of candy they have in their bag.
  3. On the back of their record sheet, have students’ record information that can be learned from their graphs.

Extension

Have students compare two types of candy with their neighbor. Who had more of a specific type? Have them write a number sentence on the back of their record sheet.

For more Halloween lesson ideas, see Halloween Lessons and Activities for the Classroom.

For more higher-order-thinking activities check out Hands-on Thinking Activities: Centers Through the YearBook cover of thinking activities throughout the year

 

 

 

 


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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Teacher playing phonics and word games with students.

October 3, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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Fun Phonics Activities and Games

Teach your students to read with phonics worksheets, activities, and games. Build strong reading foundations in kinder, first grade, and second grade students.

Phonics instruction plays a key role in teaching students to understand the sounds of letters and that certain letter combinations make specific sounds. Practicing phonemic awareness helps students decode words and increases their word recognition, which ultimately increases their reading fluency.

Here are a few fun phonics activities and resources to include in your daily lessons.

 

1. Rhyming Phonics Game
Gather sets of rhyming objects to play the game “rhyme in a bag.” Place half in a paper bag and half on a table. Have students reach into the bag, pull out an object, and match it to an item on the table that rhymes.

  • Pen, hen
  • Sock, rock
  • Fan, can
  • Boat, coat

Rhyming can help children understand that words that share common sounds often share common letters.

2. Phonics Flip Book
Phonics flip books can be a fun way to teach sound and letter combinations. All you need is a wire-bound index card notebook, scissors, tape, and markers. You may design your flip book to practice three-letter words and sounds, blends, or word families. Word families help children identify common spellings and sounds in word.

To make a blending flip book:

  • Divide and cut the notebook into three sections.
  • Label the first, second, and last paper with letters A–Z.
  • It is OK if your combinations don’t all make words. The purpose of this technique is to teach blending of sounds.

To make a word family flip book:

  • Divide and cut the notebook into two sections.
  • Write your word family in the last section.
  • Choose letters that form words with your word families.

 

3. Phonics Hopscotch

Count word syllables with a hopscotch game. Using chalk or blue tape on carpet, outline the numbers 1–4 in the squares. Have children take turns counting out the syllables of a word using their feet. Understanding that words can be broken apart into syllables makes it easier for readers to decode as well as spell correctly.

4. Phonics Games

Practice common phonics patterns with fun games like BINGO. The auditory and visual practice with these word patterns are a great way to get students recognizing the word patterns.

If you don’t want to make your own center activities, a great resource is Take It to Your Seat Phonics Centers.

5. Alphabet Hunt

An alphabet hunt is a fun and interactive way to teach letter and sound combinations. For beginning readers, matching objects with the same beginning and ending sounds reinforces this concept. Assign a letter of the week and have students find objects within the classroom that have the same beginning sound as the weekly letter. Depending on your class, you could assign more than one letter per week. (Students could also bring objects from home to share as well.)

6. Phonics Worksheets

Including fun phonics worksheets in your daily lessons will help students connect their learning from activities into practical application. This free downloadable lesson from Basic Phonics Skills Grades K–1 (Level B) gives students practice with beginning and ending sounds.

Free phonics worksheet: Review Beginning and Ending Sounds of /b/, /s/, and /m/

Teachers’ Recommended Resources
Basic Phonics Skills (PreK–3)
Take It to Your Seat Phonics Centers (K–3)
Daily Phonics (1–6)

Parents’ Recommended Resources
Learning Line: Short Vowels
Learning Line: Word Families

For more free lessons and activities, subscribe to Evan-Moor’s bi-monthly e-newsletter!


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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Halloween pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns

September 20, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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Halloween Lessons and Activities for the Classroom

October is a wonderful time to incorporate Halloween lessons and activities. Check out these free Halloween reading, language, and science lessons to create the perfect Halloween project for your classroom.

Easy Hanging Spider Craft for Halloween
These dangling spiders from Art for All Seasons are the perfect addition to your Halloween and fall lessons. Plus, you can create a simple thematic unit around your spider craft and check off a few of your content standards while you’re at it.

 

Halloween Fun: Skeleton Art Project and Science Activities
This simple “Silly Skeleton” art project was one of my favorites to do with my class around Halloween time. It is easy to integrate into a science unit, and it includes a poem for reading fluency practice. Plus, the completed art projects made a festive bulletin board. As a result, when posted altogether, they created the effect of a wall of dancing skeletons!

 

 

 

Batty for Bats: Educational Bat Activities for Halloween
Create a thematic unit about bats this fall. Engage your students with fun books, discussions, and projects. Check out these great resources to build your own study unit on bats.

 

 

 

 

Educational Halloween Activities and Fun Classroom Ideas
From candy science to thinking skills to pumpkin poems, these free activities will help to keep students engaged and learning amidst the Halloween excitement and festivities on October 31! Try these Evan-Moor Halloween-inspired activities that also integrate reading, writing, and science skills. Get ideas for healthful Halloween snacks and spooky treats.

 

 

 


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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