The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

November 29, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Holiday Books and Simple Activities for Grades 3–6

Embrace the spirit of the holidays with these classic Christmas books. The figurative language and beautiful illustrations will inspire your students’ writing and teach them the gift of giving.

how-the-grinch-stole-christmasAlthough entertaining and funny, this well-loved children’s book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, teaches students to look past the trappings of Christmas and discover the meaning behind the spirit of giving.

  • Writing prompt: Why did the Grinch dislike Christmas so much? (Discuss what motivates individuals to act in unkind ways.)
  • Summarize: Identify the characters, setting, problem, and solution.
  • Vocabulary: Use context clues to have students determine what ramshackle, slunk, sneer, and other words mean.
  • Activity ideas:
    • Picture ornaments: On green construction paper, cut out circles and glue on a small red heart. In the center of the heart put students’ pictures. Hole punch and hang with a red ribbon. (Other option: Glass ornament balls filled with green tissue paper instead of construction paper.)
    • Create Whoville trees with ice cream cones, green and white frosting, and candies.
    • Grinch STEM activities

the-polar-expressThis timeless story, The Polar Express, and Caldecott Medal winner will captivate your students with its beautiful illustrations and magical journey.

  • Sequencing and retelling the story (younger grades).
  • Similes and metaphor comparisons (older grades): Teach students to recognize descriptive and plain writing by identifying metaphors within the story (“hot cocoa as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars”).
  • Pajama party for students with hot chocolate (read book aloud).
  • Show and share: Students bring one object from home that holds similar meaning for them to the bell in the story. (Can be extended into a writing activity.)
  • STEM: Students build a model train out of graham crackers, frosting, Oreos, and other decorations.

heather-foudy-blog-imageHeather 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 29, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Holiday Books and Activities for Grades K–3

Don’t let the season overwhelm you this year. With these fun lesson ideas, you are well on your way to planning your classroom holiday activities. A trip to your school library and a little creativity are all you need to build your classroom’s holiday traditions.

the-gingerbread-manThis classic book, The Gingerbread Man, is a great crowd pleaser. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Rewrite your own ending to the story.
  • Decorate your own gingerbread man puppet and write as many adjectives as you can to describe him. Get the free printable here.
  • Build your own gingerbread house with graham crackers, frosting, and decorations. (Great for small groups.)

snowmen-at-nightThis creative book, Snowmen at Night, tells the story of snowmen coming to life at night and encourages students to stretch their imaginations.

  • Students draw their own snowmen. (Use blue construction paper and white crayons.)
  • Folded paper snowman. Get the free printable here.
  • Write out the steps to build a snowman (first, next, then, last).
  • Writing prompt: Write a story about what your snowman does at night (these are hilarious).

 


heather-foudy-blog-imageHeather 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 22, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Veteran Teachers: Help a New Teacher Today

pay-it-forward-post-it-2We can all remember the very first day we started teaching. Those jittery memories are floating somewhere in the back of your mind. When I first started teaching, I worked in a low-income school with a class consisting mostly of English language learners. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the inadequate resources of my school and the high needs of my students.

I can still remember my angel of grace walking through my classroom after the first day of school. She was a veteran teacher with a heart of gold and a willingness to share the accumulated knowledge and resources of her 30 years in the classroom.

She offered me emotional support and opened her files of resources to me. One of the most treasured items she gave me was a brand-new copy of Daily Language Review from Evan-Moor, which became the first of many Evan-Moor resources that I used in my classroom. That kind gesture, as well as her willingness to listen and sympathize, created a special work partnership—and a treasured friendship.

So, in this season of giving, find a newbie and offer them your advice, support, and sympathy. Remember how hard those first few years were. Share for favorite resources and strategies that work for you. That new teacher down the hall is watching you, mindfully jealous of your seamless classroom management and organized lessons.

Lend a hand and pay it forward. You never know when you might need their help…


Heather FoudyHeather 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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turkey-for-art-for-all-seasons

November 15, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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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.

Duration: 20 minutes

Grades 1–4; Age range: 6–10 years

Instructions:

Follow the steps below or print the instructions with visuals.

Step 1: Measure blue construction paper (11.5″ square) and paste onto yellow construction paper (12″ square). (FYI, inch and feet marks are straight quotes, not curly quotes)

Step 2: Using circle template, (4″cardboard circle) trace the outline of the turkey’s body onto the blue construction paper 2″ from the bottom of the page.

Step 3: Measure and cut strips of assorted colors of construction paper for the feathers (1″ x 6″).

Step 4: Curl tips of the feathers around a pencil and glue onto blue construction paper (before turkey body).

Step 5: Using circle template (4″ cardboard), trace and cut turkey body out of brown construction paper. Cut out two smaller circles for wings.

Step 6: Cut out freeform of turkey head on red construction paper and cut and glue yellow beak. Draw on the eyes with a black marker. Paste head onto turkey body.

Step 7: (Not shown on video) Cut out two brown construction paper strips for spacers (1″ x 3″). Fold them in half twice and glue them to the turkey body. Then glue the other side to the brown construction paper. (These give the turkey body a 3D-impression by making the body pop out from the background.)turkey-correct

Step 8: Fold wings in half and glue to the backside of the turkey body.

Step 9: Draw or glue sticks or pretzels for legs.

Lesson Tips and Ideas

Life science: Pair this art activity with a study of food webs/predator prey relationships as well as turkey facts. Younger students may label the parts of a turkey.

Vocabulary: Discuss the meanings of turkey-related words such as poult, wattle, tom, and hen.

Writing prompts: Use the turkey craft as a gateway to a writing assignment. A few writing suggestions are: Write a creative story about your turkey. If you could have a special guest for Thanksgiving, who would it be and why? Describe your family’s Thanksgiving traditions. What are your favorite fall desserts? Explain five things you are thankful for and why.


Heather FoudyHeather 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 8, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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A Simple 3-Step Method to Build a Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum

I have been a fan of Evan-Moor since I started teaching first grade in 1995. Now, Evan-Moor is my favorite publisher to use when homeschooling my own kids! Evan-Moor is perfect for homeschooling kids of all abilities with all subjects.  The kids like the activities and I think the quality is truly unmatched!
I want to share with you a simple and easy 3-step method to help you teach your children and set them up for success.  It also reduces anxiety for both kids and teachers!

blog-la-1 STEP #1: Teach the new skill — When we are teaching our children new skills, they need to truly understand the skill first. It is best to help them connect the new skill with a real-life situation.  For example, using skills to figure out an unknown word in a book they are reading.

Resource tip: If you are ever overwhelmed about exactly WHAT to teach, Evan-Moor’s Language Fundamentals series for grades 1-6 is a complete curriculum to build your child’s language arts foundation!  Lessons are clearly organized by language skill to help you teach each skill.

blog-la-2STEP #2: Provide purposeful practice – The next step of our easy teaching method is purposeful practice. While it would be terrific for kids to remember and understand everything we said the first time (right?), we all need practice to really learn the skills for life. When kids see how the practice is meaningful to them, they are MUCH more likely to remember and use the skills too.

Resource tip: Most kids prefer to practice with games. The Take it to Your Seat: Language Centers series provides leveled, hands-on activities for you to do with your children or let them complete on their own. Laminate these full color pages to use again and again! These are terrific for workboxes, too, and the kids really like them.

blog-la-3STEP #3: Assess the skills – The last step of our teaching method is assessment, but it doesn’t have to be a worksheet test!  You can make notes as your child is working to see what he or she understands and what skills may need to be retaught.

Resource tip: Evan-Moor has Daily Language Review for grades 1-8. Each day’s activity can be done in about 5 minutes, and it is a great way to check for your child’s understanding of language arts skills. Evan-Moor’s Daily Paragraph Editing and Skill Sharpeners: Spell and Write series are also ideal for this type of assessment.

Need more ideas? Download this Language Arts Curriculum PDF for my top Evan-Moor picks for your language arts curriculum. This list includes a summary of my favorite titles mentioned in this blog, plus additional resources for spelling and vocabulary!

Bonus tip: You can access all of the resources mentioned in this blog, plus lessons across the curriculum with a TeacherFileBox subscription. For the best bargain price ($79 per year), subscribe through the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.


Amy Michaels ProfileAmy Michaels is a certified teacher with 11 years of elementary classroom experience who is actively homeschooling her own children. Her mission is share the best teaching methods and resources with all homeschoolers. Amy supports parents through her podcasts, webinars, and online training for homeschoolers on her website www.thrivehomeschooling.com.

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October 27, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Easy Hanging Spider Craft for Halloween

These dangling spiders 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.

Duration: 20 minutes

Grades PreK–3; Age range: 4-9 years

Instructions:

Follow the steps below or print the instructions with visuals.

Step 1: Fold the 5” black square into quarters. Round off the outside corner.

Step 2:  Cut on one fold line into the center.

Step 3: Roll and tape into a cone shape. As you create the cone, slip a string with a paper clip tied on the end inside.

Step 4: Cut and fold 8 spider legs twice using the 3”x6” black paper.

Step 5: Glue the first segment of each leg to the spider’s body.

Step 6: Cut the white paper for eyes. Add a black circle cut from scraps.

Step 7: Add a mouth and other desired details.

Step 8: Tie another paper clip onto the end of the string.

Lesson Tips and Ideas

  • Instant Halloween décor: Hang these spiders from your ceiling or decorate a bulletin board for the season.
  • Art and science: Pair this art activity with a study on a spider’s lifecycle.
  • Thinking skills: Compare/ contrast the differences between a spider and an insect.
  • Graphing activity: Ask students to take a poll on how many people are afraid of spiders. Have students create a graph with the results.
  • Visual prompts for writing: Use the spider craft as a visual prompt and have students write a creative story about their spider. A few story or sentence starters could be: How does your spider feel? What is your spider afraid of? Write a spooky story about your spider. What does your spider look like? How many legs does your spider have? What would happen if you spider only had three legs?

These little creatures may inspire endless creativity within your classroom and won’t take hours to prepare!


Heather FoudyHeather 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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giving-tree

October 25, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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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 ideas to inspire you that don’t require a lot of time in front of the copier.

1. Thanksgiving word find: Use Thanksgiving-themed words and see how many words students can make out of them before a minute (or two) is up. For example: Mayflower: may, flower, flare, fly, wear, and lay.

mayflower2. Draw the Mayflower: Using chalk, have your students draw a life-size version of the Mayflower on the playground blacktop. Incorporate math and measurement skills to give them an impression of how small the boat was in comparison to the number of pilgrims. The deck length was 80 feet and the width was 24 feet.

3. Turkey hunt: Choose a student to be the “hunter” and have the class decide where to hide the turkey (stuffed animal). When the hunter is getting close, rather than yell “hotter” and “colder,” have the class gobble.

4. Pin the wattle on the turkey: Draw a turkey on poster paper (minus the wattle). Blindfold students and see who can get close to pinning the wattle correctly on the turkey.

5. Persuasive writing: Have students write from the point of view of a turkey and persuade the farmer to have a meat-free holiday.

giving-tree

6. Create a gratitude tree: Explore the concept of thankfulness in your class by having students write what they are grateful for on autumn paper leaf cutouts (brainstorm with the class first). Display the leaves on a gratitude tree pinned to your wall.

7. Play chicken, chicken, turkey: Change the game of duck, duck, goose for the holiday.

8. Feather the turkey: Create a cutout of a turkey without his feathers. Have each student decorate one feather and paste it on the turkey. Celebrate the diversity!

9. Graph favorite foods: Create a graph with the class of students’ favorite Thanksgiving foods. Compare the findings.

kids-playing10. Capture the turkey: Divide students into two teams on opposite sides of the field. Each team must protect their turkey from being snatched by the other team (altered version of capture the flag.)

 

 

 

 


Heather FoudyHeather 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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superhero-kids

October 21, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Strategies for Teaching Social and Emotional Learning: Create a Classroom of Superheroes!

superhero-kidsThe problem-solving skills that students use on the playground are valuable later in life. As educators, it is our job to help students navigate social and emotional waters and develop these important life skills.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) also play an integral role in students’ success. SEL teaches students to handle their emotions well, make positive decisions, problem-solve cooperatively, and practice empathy and caring.

superhero-girlHow do you promote social and emotional learning in your classroom?

Focus on these three strategies to create “a classroom of superheroes”:

  1. Regularly promote your school’s character program, as well as your classroom’s motto.
  2. Describe real-life issues to your students and demonstrate ways to resolve them. For example, discuss a scenario involving sharing the paste or taking turns. (Have students act out appropriate classroom behaviors.)
  3. Involve the class in activities that model ways to handle specific situations, practice empathy, and make positive decisions. (See my favorite activities and books below.)

Classroom Activity Ideas

  • Ants on a log game: Students get into a line and are numbered 1–10. Then they must change positions so they are lined up 10–1.
  • Ro Sham Bo Rockstar game: Also known as rock/paper/scissors: students play in pairs around the room. The loser must become the winner’s cheerleader for the rest of the game.
  • Incorporate bucket fillers: Students give daily positive written feedback to peers.
  • Daily student greeter: Encourage personal connections with a daily student greeter.
  • Weekly class meetings: Discuss, encourage, and highlight positive behaviors.

Books to Read

how-full-is-your-bucket

How Full Is Your Bucket? Author: Tom Rath

the-invisible-boy-1

The Invisible Boy Author: Trudy Ludwig

dont-squel-unless

Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal: A Tale of Tattletales Author: Jeanie Franz Ransom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my-mouth-is-a-volcano

My Mouth Is a Volcano! Author: Julia Cook

what-if-everybody-did-that

What If Everybody Did That? Author: Ellen Javernick

 

 

 

 

 

Student-Teacher Relationships

In addition to student relationships, SEL also influences the student-teacher relationship. As educators, we greatly influence our students’ development and attitudes toward school. So take the time in your week to nurture relationships within your classroom. You may just be the teacher that students never forget.


Heather FoudyHeather 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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bats-2img_6026

October 7, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Batty for Bats: Educational Bat Activities for Halloween

bats-shutterstock

Embrace these mysterious night-flying creatures and solve your Halloween project dilemma by creating a thematic unit about bats. Engage your students with fun books, discussions, and projects. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

KWL Chart

This is a good method for beginning any unit of study with students because it visually guides them through their learning process. Fill out the chart as a class in the beginning of the unit. Find out what students already Know about bats and what they Would like to know. At the end of the unit, students can fill in what they Learned.

 

Books

Books are a wonderful resource to provide students when they are studying something new. Whet their appetites by reading one as a class. Then, create a library corner in your room where students may read on their own during free time. Here is a list of some of my favorites.

Fiction Titles

book-stellaluna

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

nightsong

Nightsong by Ari Berk

magic-school-bus-going-batty

Magic School Bus by Cole and Degen

 

 

 

 

 

 

NonFiction Titles

amazing-bats

Amazing Bats (Eyewitness Junior) by Frank Greenaway

bats-hunters-of-the-night

Bats: Hunters of the Night by Elaine Landau

lifecycle-of-a-bat

The Life Cycle of a Bat by Bobbie Kalman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Opportunities

Don’t pass up this opportunity to get students writing. Depending on the grade, you can have students write informational paragraphs (or sentences) about what they learned. Another option is to ask students to compare and contrast two fictional books such as Nightsong and Stellaluna. (You can fill out a Venn diagram as a class to help younger students.)

Bat Art

So many activities, so little time is my reaction when I think of all the glorious thematic additions I could add to this unit. There are wonderful bat art projects for students of all ages online. Check out our Pinterest board for bats. We have pinned our favorite bat art and included some fun activities that correlate to bat units of study.

bats-2img_6026bats3img_6021bats3img_6023

bats-thematicIf you are looking for creative and engaging lessons but don’t have the time to craft your own unit, here is the ultimate resource for you: Bats, Complete Thematic Units E-book, $9.95

 

 


Heather FoudyHeather 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 3, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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How to Get Your Child to Write: Tips for Reluctant Writers

shutterstock_368296496If your child doesn’t jump at the chance to write stories, this post is for you.

I understand this issue firsthand because my daughter was a very reluctant writer. She was an avid reader and very expressive in her vocabulary, so I expected writing to be a natural extension for her. Boy, was I wrong.

She flat-out refused to write for me in kindergarten. In first grade, it was her most dreaded activity in our homeschooling. She didn’t want to write anything if she was going to misspell it. She didn’t feel free to just write her thoughts and THEN come back and edit later.

How did I encourage my daughter to write?

  • First, I quit asking her to write. As in, I really told her that she was taking a complete break from writing for a while. She was relieved!
  • Instead of having a writing lesson, I began role-modeling writing for her in various ways: shopping lists, thank-you notes, and sharing my thoughts in our family journal.
  • I didn’t use my best handwriting on the shopping lists, and I used abbreviations (like P.T. for paper towels).
  • I made mistakes in our family journal so that she could help me edit for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I drafted my thank-you notes quickly and then took my time writing them neatly on the actual thank-you card.

Once she had seen that writers are just sharing thoughts, even when they are not in perfect form, she removed the pressure she had put on herself. She began to write…and write and write.

img_4619-4615Resources for reluctant writers:

If you have a reluctant writer, I know a terrific resource that uses a secret that good teachers know about writing. When we give kids a blank piece of paper and ask them to write, it can be overwhelming. However, if we give a little inspiration, writing becomes much easier.

Evan-Moor has a series called Draw Then Write. It teaches kids how to draw something (like an animal) in quick and easy steps. Then simple questions get your child thinking (and writing – GASP!) about what the animal might be doing. There are no wrong answers, either! It is just a place to let your child’s imagination be free to think and write without being overwhelmed. Check out THIS SAMPLE ACTIVITY and use this free download with your child (from Draw Then Write, grades 4–6.)

Once my children are comfortable writing, we start working through the Daily 6-Trait Writing series. I also adore this series because the lessons are fun, focused, and quick to share strategies that good writers use in their writing.

Does your child like to write? Let me know in the comments!


Amy Michaels ProfileAmy Michaels is a certified teacher with 11 years of elementary classroom experience who is actively homeschooling her own children. Her mission is share the best teaching methods and resources with all homeschoolers. Amy supports parents through her podcasts, webinars, and online training for homeschoolers on her website www.thrivehomeschooling.com.

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