The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

January 3, 2017
by Evan-Moor
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3 Math Hacks Every Teacher Will Love

With just a few changes, you can boost students’ understanding and reduce transition times within your classroom. Here are a few of my favorite math hacks:

Math Toolkit: If you’re like me, you cringe every time you pull out the manipulatives. Those time eaters take up most of your math period and cause disruptions throughout the lesson. Assign a box to each student at the beginning of the year with every math manipulative he or she will need. (You may need two boxes to cover the entire year.) 

    • Number each box.
    • Assign each student a number.
    • Before each lesson, have students pick up their math toolkit and remove only the manipulatives for that lesson.
    • Warning: Once students have removed the tools they need from the box, they must close it and put it under their desks.

Math Journal: These are perfect for teaching new concepts and reminding students of forgotten strategies. They also double as an at-home math tutor.

  • Composition journals (Home Depot will cut in half).
  • Record key vocabulary, strategies, and visuals.
  • Solve multi-step word problems and write out solutions.

Evan-Moor’s Math Fundamentals pairs perfectly with student journals. Cut and paste visual math model pages into students’ journals. Download your free sample of the new Math Fundamentals series (grades 1–6.)

Math Wall: Most of us have the obligatory writing wall display in our classrooms, but what about math? With wall space at a premium, what we put on our walls is a reflection of what we consider important. Encourage students to embrace mathematics by displaying new math terminology, strategies, and student work.

  • Include key vocabulary and strategies.
  • Display anchor charts that support students’ reasoning.
  • Incorporate student work into your display.

What are your favorite math hacks?


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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December 15, 2016
by Evan-Moor
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Teacher Tips: Lose Weight and Gain Energy in the New Year!

If you struggle with teacher bulge September–May, don’t wait for summer to start living healthier; small changes can make the difference! Get tips from certified personal trainer and rehab specialist, Chris Foudy.

1. Calories in verses calories out.

  • 80% of the battle is fought with nutrition. Plan healthy, balanced meals and snacks ahead of time to ensure a calorie deficit.
  • 40/40/20. A good rule of thumb for planning meals is 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% healthy fats.
  • Eat 6 small meals a day. It’s important to keep your metabolism burning calories throughout the day.

2. Move!

  • Sit down and stand up off a small chair 20 times.
  • Push-ups off your desk. Have your class join in!
  • Walk on your lunch break. Walk around the playground. Get out and run with your class!
  • Choose active brain breaks and do them with your students!

3. Avoid traps.

  • Don’t go to the teachers’ lounge when you are hungry. If you must indulge, eat a smaller portion.
  • Don’t eat when you are stressed; rather, find a quiet spot and take three deep breaths.
  • Drink water. Many people get dehydrated and think they are hungry. (Drink water 20–30 minutes before recess and lunch.)

Even if you do not see physical changes right away, living a healthy lifestyle will help you sleep better, manage stress, and have more energy! What teacher couldn’t use more energy?


heather-foudy-blog-image

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 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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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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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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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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