## Mystery Puzzles Make You Think

I first gave the 3 mystery puzzles below to my students in the Talented and Gifted program over 20 years ago. Prior to sharing the mysteries with the class, I had to review and review them again to make sure that I REALLY understood them.

The students tried all different ways of figuring out the answers. They talked it out, they drew pictures, they labeled their pictures and they asked questions. Finally, I shared the answers (thankfully, I had an answer key). But the answers did not come easy to most of us and we still had some non-believers in the group.

These are great activities for group work or challenge problems. They certainly will get people thinking.  Have fun friends!

### Mystery Puzzles

1. Soup for All – GG made a big pot of chicken soup and wanted to share it with her neighbors. She filled 3 flowered bowls and gave them to her neighbors– a family of two fathers and two sons.  They all loved the soup!  How could 3 bowls of soup be divided equally and fairly between two fathers and two sons?
2. Floating Family – Mom and Dad and two kids must cross a lake.  They find a 2-person kayak, but it is not big enough for them all to go over at the same time.  Luckily both kids are good rowers but how can the whole family get across the river? How many times does the kayak cross the lake? (HINT:  Might find it easier to label the kids Kid #1 and Kid #2 to avoid confusion)
3. The Wolf, the Goat, and the Cabbage – You are traveling through the woods with a wolf, a goat, and a cabbage.  The wolf wants to eat the goat and the goat wants to eat the cabbage and you must keep everyone apart to prevent a disaster.  You come to a river and find a small boat that you can only fit 1 other person. You must get everyone across the river, but you cannot leave the wolf alone with the goat, nor the goat alone with the cabbage.  What is your plan? How many times did you have to cross the river to be successful?

### Mystery Story Answers

1. The neighbors were a grandfather, son, and grandson, so they each got a bowl of soup.
2. The two kids row across. Kid #1 stays on the other side of the lake alone and Kid #2 brings the kayak back. Kid #2 and mom cross back over the lake.  Mom stays behind and Kid #2 goes back to get dad.  Dad and Kid #2 go back across the lake. Answer: they kayak crosses the lake 5 times.
3. Take the goat across, go back; and take the wolf across. Then take the goat back with you.  Take just the cabbage back with you and leave it with the wolf.  Go back alone and bring back the goat. It took 7 trips across the river, but the goat was never alone with the wolf or the cabbage.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

## Pacing Helps Lesson Effectiveness

As a student teacher supervisor, I coach many novice teachers in lesson plans design. One of the areas that we discuss often is effective pacing of lessons.  Effective pacing optimizes the time spent on each task.  This logical order will keep students engaged and better able to meet lesson objectives.

Lesson pacing goes hand in hand with effective lesson design. Effective lessons place the learner at the center of the learning process. A well-known research-based strategy to follow is the “ten-two” rule for lesson effectiveness. Students should receive no more than ten minutes of teacher-directed or teacher-presented content before they are given a chance to discuss, interpret, debate, or apply it. Keeping this lesson design in mind, opportunities for student reflection is an important part in lesson pacing. In other words, less Teacher Talk and more Student Talk.  So, what are some ways to make every minute count when planning lessons?

### 4 Top Pacing Strategies

1. Get organized – By getting your teacher materials ready, you can keep the lesson flow going. Have any handouts ready to be handed out or ready to upload so students can access quickly.  Alternatively, project your screen for students to watch or read from.  For younger students, materials such as glue, scissors, crayons should be available in a central location for student access.
2. Use Visual Cues – To keep students engaged or on track, directions should be presented visually. This will save you both energy and time repeating directions multiple times. Oral directions are not ideal for all learning styles.
3. Consider teaching styles and strategies – Choose the most effective teaching style or strategy based on the topic or type of lesson. Combine that with the most effective learning style of your students. “One size does not fit all”, so do not be afraid to mix multiple styles into a lesson.  See post below.
4. Use timing cues – Create a sense of urgency and value your lesson time. Work diligently through the lesson and be “aware” when you are wasting time from the task.  Adjusting your pacing, should be used when additional thinking time is needed.  Digital clocks and/or post its with “time checks” in your lesson design will help you keep on schedule.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

## Student Teachers Make a Difference

Smiling at a kid

COSTS NOTHING.

Showing kids, you are genuinely excited to see them

COSTS NOTHING.

Finding a reason to compliment a students’ work, effort, or attitude

COSTS NOTHING…

BUT it is those “COSTS NOTHING ” moments

that make the biggest DIFFERENCE.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

## Stories with Holes Challenge

Kids love to try to figure out “Stories with Holes”. Sometimes referred to as “one minute mysteries” or “red herring stories, they were one of the favorite activities for my students when I was teaching in the Talented and Gifted programThe stories contain 1 or more “red herrings” which are facts that are “not as they seem”.  Asking questions about facts in the story leads to the evidence needed to solve the mystery.

Take a look at the following stories I found while cleaning out old files. After our 4-6th graders got stumped a few times, they learned to ask the “right” questions. They enjoyed solving the mysteries in group setting and LOVED the competition. To get you started, I underlined the word in the first 2 examples to give you a hint to the solution. No hint for the last 3 stories.  You are on your own. Have fun!

### Stories with Holes

1. If a plane lands on the border of the US and Canada, where are the survivors buried?
2. An airplane landed in the middle of a school playground. Children were playing all over the playground when it landed but no one got hurt.  How come?
3. There was a tornado in Oklahoma.  The power went out and the woman went to her basement for cover.  As she was carrying the candles down the old, creaky, wooden stairs, she tripped, and the candles dropped on the stairs.  Why didn’t the stairs catch fire?
4. Two identical twins (biologically and physically identical) go into a restaurant and each order a cup of coffee.  The contents of the cup are identical. Each twin drinks the coffee and finishes it.  One twin lives and one twin dies.  Why?
5. A man is in the desert.  In the distance he sees a refreshment stand.  He walks in and says to the attendant, “Please, please, a glass of water.”  The attendant takes out a gun and fires three shots in the air.  The man said, “Thank you,” and left satisfied.  Why did he leave satisfied?

### Answers

1. Survivors are NOT buried.
2. It was a paper airplane.
3. The candles were not lit.
4. The twins are identical twins NOT TO EACH OTHER but to two other people.
5. The man was satisfied because he had hiccups and the gunshot scared them away.  He was not thirsty.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

## Environmental Print Activities

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about teaching my granddaughters Environmental Print. Environmental Print is the name given to the print that appears in signs, labels, and logos you see in everyday life. Learning to “read” Environmental Print is an important step in learning to read print. This type of learning helps young children build confidence and transition into the world of reading more easily.

Today, while driving in the car I started pointing out Environmental Print to another granddaughter. Although our trip was filled with signs and logos that she undoubtedly was aware of, it did not engage her interest. Her only focus was when she was going to get to my house.  So, “reading around our town” we will attempt on another day and try some of the ideas listed below.

### 11 Environmental Print Activities

• Grocery Ads – Ask children to read the print in grocery store ads to make a shopping list.
• Add Real boxes/Labels to Play – Encourage your child to play with real empty boxes and labels.
• Create a Menu Book – Using any type of notebook or paper create a menu of items your child recognizes by gluing fronts of boxes or labels. Into the menu book.  At mealtime ask your child to choose from the menu to choose what they want to eat.
• Shopping Helper – Kids can bring their Environmental Print book to the store and try to locate the items on the shelves.
• Shop your Pantry – Ask your child to get items from your pantry using the brand name or a type of food.  Be sure to show when where the words are on the boxes to help them “read” the words.
• Cooking in the Kitchen – Using their Environmental Print book they can collect items needed to prepare their meal.
• Create Environmental Print Book – Print out or cut out logos, box tops, names of stores, school items that are familiar to your child.  If you are printing the items, be sure to use large print and proper coloring.
• Shopping Photos – Allow kids to take pictures using your phone of items in the store they like.  They can then review the photos and name the products.
• Road signs – Print out copies of road signs and place around house or an outside space.  Ask kids to pretend they are driving and obey the traffic signs.  A great way to make them “SLOW DOWN” on a busy day!
• Puzzle Boxes – Cut up the front of boxes (ex. cereal) to make a puzzle and ask kids to put them together. Start with 2 pieces and work up to more pieces depending on the child’s age and skill level.
• Match Game – Make 2 copies of the word or label and ask kids to find 2 of the same thing.  Variations can be a card game or a memory game.

With a little bit of effort and creativity we can create opportunities for kids to see print and learn to read it.  Sharing Environmental Print with our kids is just one more way we can show how important reading and writing are for life. Happy Reading!

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

### Other posts related to this topic:

Environmental Print is ALL AROUND!

## Easter Jokes to Make You “HOPPY “

With Easter right around the corner, you know it is time to start some Easter Joke fun. Now, what are Easter jokes without certain words included in the punchline.

Challenge older kids to think of the 2 categories that will have many of common words in the category to answer some of the jokes. IF they can name the 2 categories of words and some examples, they are bound to figure out some of the jokes below.  For our younger kiddos, I have underlined the “hint” word to get the fun started.

Be ready for some “eye rolling” either yours or theirs!  Have fun!

## Easter Jokes

Q. How did the soggy Easter Bunny dry himself?
A. With a hare dryer!

Q. What kind of beans never grow in a garden?
A. Jellybeans!

Q. What kind of bunny cannot hop?

A. A chocolate bunny.

Q. How does Easter end?

A. With an “R”!

Q. What do you get if you give an Easter Bunny a pair of socks?

A. A sock hop!

Q. What happened when the Easter Bunny met the rabbit of his dreams?
A. They lived hoppily ever after!

Q. What do you call a rabbit who tells jokes?
A. A funny bunny.

Q. What is a rabbit’s favorite dance?
A. The Bunny Hop.

Q. What happens if you tell a joke to an Easter egg?

A. It cracks up.

Q. How does the Easter Bunny stay in shape?

A. Eggs -ercise

Q. What proof is there that carrots are good for the eyes?

A. You don’t see rabbits wearing eyeglasses.

Q.  What road did the Easter Bunny take from New York to South Carolina that he arrived so quickly?

A. He used the Eggs-press lane!

Q. What does the Easter Bunny plant next to the green beans in his garden?

A. Jellybeans

Q. How does Easter end?

A. With an “R”!

Q. What happens if Winnie the Pooh drops his dinner on the Easter Bunny?

A. A honey bunny

Q. What do you call a rabbit with fleas?

A. Bugs Bunny.

Q. What do you call a rabbit that tells good jokes?

A. A funny bunny.

Q. What do you call a rabbit with the sniffles?

A. A runny bunny.

Q. What is Easter Bunny’s favorite kind of music?

A. Hip-hop!

Q. Why did the Easter Bunny have on a hat?

A. Because he was having a bad hare day.

Q. What do you call a mischievous Easter egg?

A. A practical yolker.

Q. Where did the Easter Bunny learn how to ski?

A. The bunny hill.

Q. How does the Easter Bunny travel on vacation?

A. On hare planes.

Q. What compliment did the Easter Bunny give about the Easter parade?

A. It was eggs-cellent.

Q. What did one Easter egg say to the other?

A. Heard any good yolks today?

Q. What do you call an Easter egg from outer space?

A. An egg-straterrestrial!

Q. What do you say to the Easter Bunny on his birthday?

A. Hoppy birthday.

Q. What’s an Easter egg’s least favorite day?

A. Fry-day.

Q. Which side of the Easter Bunny has the most fur?

A. The outside.

Did you figure out the 2 popular categories in many Easter jokes?

1. Rabbit words/actions – hare, hop, bunny, carrots
2. Chicks words/actions – eggs

These jokes were hilHAREous weren’t they?  An EGGS-cellent challenge, huh?

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

## April Dates for Classroom Fun

April dates are sure to bring lots of fun to classrooms. Calendar dates can help to make days special and opportunities to learn. Special days and observances can be everything from silly to serious and everything in between.

These special days don’t have to be only celebrated at home.  Knowing the days can extend to homes and family activities too.  Aren’t we all looking for ways to make learning at fun everywhere?  After a year of being in the midst of a pandemic aren’t we all ready for some FUN?

I know I have NOT included every celebration in the list below.  But the list below should get you started with some “hours of fun!”  ENJOY! If you are ready for even more fun, check out the websites below that list additional holidays and celebrations.  Along with basic information you will find classroom resources and lesson ideas.  ALL FREE!

### April Dates: Daily Celebrations

April 1: April Fools’ Day

April 2: World Autism Awareness Day, International Children’s Book Day (first Thursday)

April 4: National School Librarian Day

April 11: National Pet Day

April 15: World Art Day

April 16: Wear Pajamas to Work Day

April 20: Volunteer Recognition Day

April 22 Earth Day, Administrative Professionals Day (Wednesday of last full week)

April 23: Take Your Daughter and Son to Work Day (fourth Thursday)

April 24: National Arbor Day (last Friday)

### April Weekly Observances

Laugh at Work Week (first week)

National Library Week (April 19-25)

National Volunteer Week (third week)

### April Monthly Observances

Autism Awareness Month

National Garden Month

National Poetry Month

### FREE Celebration Resources

The Teacher’s Corner

Education World

Calendar at a Glance- National Day Calendar

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

## Reading Websites (FREE) for Kids

Who does not like the word FREE?  I am always looking for new FREE reading websites for parents and teachers and I have found a few more to share with you. With so many kids learning at home, many parents are looking for additional learning activities for their kids. The sites below are ideal for review, reinforcement and FUN! These websites are not only FREE they are also kid and parent friendly.

### 5 New Reading Websites

Oxford Owl – After registering for a FREE account as a parent or a teacher you have access to over 250 children’s audio books. The free eBook library has been created to help children aged 3-11 develop their reading skills.

ABCya! – Children can listen to short stories read alound to them as they follow allong with the highlighted text.  There are a variety of educational games that are categorized by grade levels too   Resources focus on grades K through 5. There is a premium service available for a cost but there are many FREE resources available.

Storynory – A great collection of classic, fairytales and original stories.  Students can follow text while the story is read to them. Some of the stories are also translated into different languages.  Great resource for ENL students.

Storyline Online – I love this site.  Developed by The Screen Actors Guild Foundation the site features actors and actresses reading some of their favorite children’s books.  Each story comes with a free Activity Guide and can be viewed on Vimeo, YouTube or SchoolTube.

Read to Me – Similar to Storyline Online, Read to Me features popular children’s books being read by famous performers.  There are activity guides with hands-on ideas, discussion questions, and lesson plans that can easily be adapted for classrooms. The site has been updated to include the Read to Me International Workshop Recordings and Materials.

### Encore Mention

• Starfall – I have listed this one before, but it is certainly worth an encore mention.  It is used quite often in schools and homes. A premium service is also offered but there are many early reader stories available for FREE. The site is highly engaging and is a favorite of young readers. Activities are available from PreK through Grade 3.

Great resources that allow kids to access pages on their own.

Happy Reading!

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

## Virtual Aquariums Are Fun

I have been a fan of aquariums for years. But getting to all the great ones throughout the country is impossible.  The next best thing is taking virtual aquarium tours. It is so much fun to see things that you probably will not ever see in face to face. If your are ready to take a deep dive without leaving your chair, check out some of the virtual aquariums below.

Many of the experiences allow you to click and drag images to navigate your way around and use arrows, the maps, or scenes to explore various exhibits. Many of the aquariums have webcams of small and big sea animals.  The Aquarium of the Pacific will even take you into the world of sharks.  Happy exploring!

### 6 Virtual Aquariums to Explore

These aquarium resources are accessible 24-7 and FREE.  Can’t beat that!  Check back again to see upcoming posts on resources for virtual trips to zoos, museums, and National Parks.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

## Are You A Reflective Teacher?

The profession of teaching is challenging, and it is important that teachers take a few minutes to evaluate their work. Being a Reflective Teacher is a way for us to analyze and evaluate our own practices so we can focus on what works. It is a valuable process so we can make improvements in our teaching strategies where necessary. Perhaps the hardest part is coming up with the right questions to ask.  Here are a few suggestions to get your started.

Lesson Objectives

• Was the lesson too easy or too difficult for the students?
• Did the students understand what was being taught?
• Was there anything that happened that surprised you?

Materials

• What materials in the lesson worked/did not work in the lesson?
• Are there materials or resources that might work better next time?
• Did the materials keep the students engaged in the lesson?

Classroom Management

• Were the students participating?
• Were my instructions clear?
• Was pacing of the lesson appropriate?
• Were students aware of classroom expectations?

Teacher

• From 1-10 (10 being highest) how effective was the overall lesson?
• How could I make the lesson a 10 next time?
• Did the lesson assessment adequately reflect student learning?
• How was my overall delivery of the lesson?

Students

• What part of the lesson were the kids most engaged/less engaged?
• Were students on task?

The result of self-reflection is to improve the way you teach.  Why not take a few minutes each day to make a difference.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

## Student Teachers Can Make a Difference

Attention all Student Teachers:

At the end of the day when you wonder if you made a difference in your students’ lives….

IF you did anything of the items below,

YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE

Smiling at a kid … COSTS NOTHING.

Showing kids, you are genuinely excited to see them … COSTS NOTHING.

Finding a reason to compliment a student’s work, effort, or attitude …COSTS NOTHING.

BUT it is those “COST NOTHINGS” that are the….

MOMENTS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

## St. Patrick’s Day Jokes to Make You Smile

St. Patrick’s Day jokes can make us all laugh! But, there is nothing like it when a child realizes the value of jokes and riddles.  For little ones, after they hear someone tell a joke and watch people laugh, they start “silly joke telling”. Those are the jokes that make no sense, and they wait for you to laugh. Of course, we do, and we will try once again, to explain all about jokes!  For older kids, we enjoy it when we see the look in their eyes, when they “get” the inferences in the jokes. Or the roll of their eyes when they realize you just told them a silly joke!

Jokes are a great way to bond with your kids or grandkids or just to add a little silliness into our lives.  Check out some of the St. Patrick’s Day jokes I dug up from my Principal Files.

After the last year of COVID-19, don’t we all need a few laughs?

### St. Patrick’s Day Jokes

1. What happens when a leprechaun falls into a river?
2. What’s a leprechaun’s favorite cereal?
3. What do they call the Irish jig at McDonald’s?
4. Why do leprechauns recycle?
5. What does it mean if you find a horseshoe in Ireland?
6. What did the leprechaun say when the video game ended?
7. Why do frogs like St. Patrick’s Day?
8. What type of bow cannot be tied?
9. When does a leprechaun cross the road?
10. How is a best friend like a 4-leaf clover?
11. They are both hard to find and lucky to have.

### And the punchline is…..

1. He gets wet!
2. Lucky Charms
3. A Shamrock Shake
4. They like to go green!
5. A horse lost its shoe.
6. Game clover!
7. Because they are already wearing green
8. They like to go green!
9. A rain-bow
10. When the light turns green
11. They are both hard to find and lucky to have.

## Happy St. Patrick’s Day Friends!

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

## Resources for Remote Teaching

The NYS Education Department has an extensive list of remote teaching resources. The links are specifically intended for teachers to provide ideas and inspiration as they plan and implement remote and/or online learning during extended closures.  Although NYS has provided the information, most of the links will be beneficial for all teachers.

### Remote Teaching Links

• Remote Education Resource Center, SUNY Albany – Resources for teaching online, from “Where to Start,” to content resources and suggested tools.
• Tips for Distance Learning with PBS Learning Media – In this one-hour virtual learning seminar, PBS master trainers and educators share tips and techniques to support engaging, effective distance learning. Educators of children of all ages are introduced to virtual learning technologies, tools, and hacks to set up a digital classroom with confidence.
• NYSUT Webinar Series: Teaching in Blended & Hybrid Models – In this two-part webinar series hosted by NYSUT, educators discuss practical strategies for teachers to confront the challenges of working with blended/hybrid classes split between in-person and remote environments.

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Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.