Strategies for Teaching Problem Solving Skills

Teaching kids who struggle in math is not easy.  But there are some procedures and strategies that have been shown to be helpful when learning mathematical concepts.  The following 5 strategies should be included in each math lesson.

1. Teach each step in the sequence.
2. Ensure that steps are taught through demonstration.
3. Allow sufficient time for guided practice.
4. Provide independent practice with guidance.
5. Create a visual display and post in the classroom or student notebooks to assist students.

4 Problem Solving Strategies

Check our 4 problem solving strategies that use mnemonics to help remember them: RIDE, FAST DRAW, TINS, and STAR. I like to consider the mnemonic math strategies to be the “training wheels” of problem solving. They get your students up and solving problems, helping to build confidence until they are ready to solve the problems without mnemonics.

RIDE (Mercer, Mercer, & Pullen, 2011) RIDE is a strategy used to assist students with solving word problems. Students who have trouble with abstract reasoning, attention, memory, and/or visual spatial skills may benefit from the strategy.

R – Remember the problem correctly.

I – Identify the relevant information.

D – Determine the operations and unit for expressing the answer.

E – Enter the correct numbers, calculate, and check the answer.

FAST DRAW (Mercer & Miller, 1992) Like RIDE, FAST DRAW is another strategy used to solve word problems.

F— Find what you are solving for.

A— Ask yourself, “What are the parts of the problem?”

S— Set up the numbers.

T— Tie down the sign.

D — Discover the sign.

A — Answer or draw and check.

TINS Strategy (Owen, 2003) The TINS strategy allows students to use different steps to analyze and solve word problems: (1) Think, (2) Information Circle, (3) Number Sentence, (4) Solution Sentence.

T—Thought Think about what you need to do to solve this problem and circle the key words.

I— Information Circle and write the information needed to solve this problem; draw a picture; cross out unneeded information.

N— Number Sentence Write a number sentence to represent the problem.

S – Solution Sentence Write a solution sentence that explains your answer.

STAR – The STAR strategy prompts students to apply a 4 -step problem-solving method: (1) Search, (2) Translate, (3) Answer, and (4) Review.

Search for important information

• Highlight key words.
• Cross out information that is not important

Translate the word problem into a number sentence.

• Arrange counters/objects to understand the problem.
• Draw the problem.
• Explain the problem in your own words.

• Consider the math operations to use.

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

Recognizing Strengths in Kids

When the 8 grandkids (all under 10 years old), arrive for a visit, our house is filled with varied personalities. Empathetic, aloof, funny, competitive you name it, and we probably have it.  Each visit I am recognizing strengths that I had not seen before and I marvel at the changes right before my eyes.

Kid’s strengths are different; some are obvious and others harder to notice.  It is easy to see athleticism, but it is harder to see a child that is good at compromising, unless they had to negotiate a deal! Some of those inner qualities go unnoticed unless we learn to recognize and talk about them.   This encourages skill development and open discussions about hard work and effort.  It helps to develop a child’s growth mindset to develop other strengths.

Check out the categories below that you see in kids and adults. Every time I teach or write about personal strengths, I recognize that my strengths have changed once again. The challenges of the pandemic I am sure have caused us all to find some undiscovered strengths. Can you identify some of your own strengths?

Social Strengths

• Has a good sense of humor.
• Accepts the differences in others.
• Is a good listener.
• Puts effort into making friends and keeping them.
• Shares, takes turns, and can compromise.
• Asks for help when needed.
• Accepts personal responsibility for actions.
• Tells the truth and can apologize when needed.

Literacy Strengths

• Can retell and remember story details.
• Can sound out unfamiliar words.
• Understands the structure of sounds.
• Makes connections between reading material and personal experiences.
• Can rhyme.
• Can make predictions in stories.
• Recognizes sight words easily.

Math and Logic Strengths

• Solves puzzles or word problems.
• Uses math concepts in the real world.
• Remembers math facts.
• Can do mental math in head.
• Has strong number sense.
• Sees and understand patterns in nature and in numbers.
• Understands math terms used in word problems.

Study Skills Strengths

• Understands and can set goals.
• Follows rules and routines well.
• Learns from mistakes and solves problems.
• Is a self-starter.
• Flexible thinker.
• Organizes thoughts and physical items like a backpack.

Language Strengths

• Participates in discussions at home, at school, and with friends.
• Uses words to express needs, wants, and ideas.
• Use lots of words and likes learning new words.
• Tells stories that have a clear beginning, middle and end.
• Can change tone of voice when telling a story or asking a question.
• Can answer who, what, when, where, why and how questions in a conversation about a story.
• Understands jokes, puns, and sarcasm.

Character Strengths

• Is honest and trustworthy.
• Is resilient.
• Shows independence.
• Cooperates
• Works hard
• Shows loyalty.
• Helps others.
• Is caring, kind and empathetic.

Other Strengths and Talents

• Is creative/artistic.
• Does community service projects.
• Plays sports or games (video games included)
• Takes care of animals and/or younger children.
• Entertains people by telling jokes or stories.
• Practice’s yoga, mindfulness, or meditation.
• Dances, acts, sings, or plays a musical instrument.

Upcoming Post: Developing a Growth Mindset

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

Special Education Strategies Make a Difference

A new cadre of student teachers start their special education placements this week.  Teaching a classroom of students with a multitude of needs is difficult for the most experienced teacher.  So, for novice teachers, it can be overwhelming. But there are some effective teaching strategies in special education that student teachers can add to their toolbox to help meet the needs of their new students. However, since student needs vary widely; flexibility is key.

Check out the list of strategies to try with your students that need a different approach to learning, struggle with change or have short attention spans.  For some kids, the recipe for success may change daily.  Thank you for working so hard to help all kids shine!

Vary Approach to Learning

• Simplify and repeat directions as needed.
• Sequence learning tasks from simple to complex.
• Add visual supports and cues (charts, pictures, color coding)
• Give repeated opportunities to practice skills.
• Provide immediate, positive, descriptive feedback.
• Use manipulative and sensory materials that are developmentally appropriate.
• Offer choices so children can follow interests and strengths.
• Use concrete material or examples.
• Be sensitive to schedule changes: time for transitions, reminders of schedule changes, order of activities, length of activities.
• Provide time to process learning.

Managing Change

• Develop easy-to-use monitoring tools that are needs-based.
• Design teaching aids and lessons that are flexible.
• Add creativity to lessons and homework.
• Develop lesson plans that can be modified to fit each student.
• Develop a set of resources and interventions that work.

Short Attention Spans

• Establish consistent everyday routines.
• Share ideas with parents to help with homework.
• Open dialogue with parents to share “what works and doesn’t” at home and school.
• Set clear expectations for all students.
• Break assignments into smaller pieces.
• Add routine breaks into work time to create shorter periods.
• Use visual and auditory reminders to transition from one activity to another.
• Develop a reward system for desired behaviors: completing work, class participation, good behavior.

Coming Soon: Strategies: Communication and Language, Social/ Emotional and Physical/Motor Development.

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

Mini Detective Mysteries

Great detectives have an awesome eye for details.  They solve crimes by looking carefully at crime scenes, interviewing suspects, and listening to alibis. Read the Mini Detective Mysteries below CAREFULLY  and THINK like a detective.  Happy Investigating!

Detective Mysteries

• Two girls played five complete games of chess.  Each girl wins the same number of games. There are no ties.  How?
• If it takes 5 women to dig 5 holes, how long does it take one woman to dig half a hole?
• A farmer has seventeen sheep.  All but nine of them die.  How many sheep does he have left?
• The landscaper at the circular mansion was found unconscious in the foyer.  He had been poisoned.  The detective interviewed the cook, maid, and babysitter.  The cook’s alibi was that she was in the kitchen preparing breakfast.  The maid was dusting the corner of all the rooms.  The babysitter was in the yard playing with the kids. Who was not telling the truth?
• The red house is on one side of the street and the blue is on the other, where is the White House?
• A man was found dead early Thursday morning.  He was killed while his wife was sleeping.  The wife knew everyone’s whereabouts and shared it with the detective.  The wife tells the detective that the cook was cleaning the oven, the maid was making the beds and the butler was polishing the candlesticks.  The detective immediate arrested the person responsible.  Who is responsible and why?
• Kelly tells Chris, “This isn’t the \$20 bill you left on the table. I found it in between pages 38 and 39 in the book on the table. Chris tells Kelly, “You’re not telling the truth and I can prove it”. How did Chris know?
• Joan was killed one Sunday morning.  The investigator knew who to arrest after they discovered where everyone was at the time of the murder. Who killed Joan? Here are the clues.
• Nancy was getting the mail.
• Joe was cooking.
• Karen was planting in the garden.
• Pat was doing the laundry.

Detective Mysteries Solutions

• The two girls were not playing against each other.
• There is no such thing as half a hole.
• Nine
• The maid because a circular mansion does not have corners to dust.
• In Washington, D.C.
• The wife because if she were sleeping as she stated, how could she have known where everyone was?
• Books have odd-numbered pages on the right and even-numbered on the left.  So, it is impossible to find the \$20 bill between the pages.
• Joan was killed by Nancy because there is no mail delivery on Sundays.

Historical Landmarks Virtual Tours

I always loved field trips with my own family and with my students.  Field trips give kids an opportunity to explore different places and learn new things.  But with COVID-19 limits this past year online adventures have been the GO-TO for many kids and families. Historical Virtual Tours brings the world TO your students.  It is an opportunity for kids to explore different cities, customs, and cultures.  They are not as good as “the real thing” but hopefully, they will leave a lasting impression on kids and they will choose to revisit them in the future. Two great things about online adventures are that you can “visit” then any time of the day and they are FREE!  Enjoy!

Historical Landmarks in USA

• Ellis Island Tour – New York City, New York -The Ellis Island Virtual tour includes lots of information to give a clear explanation of the historical significance of Ellis island in American history. The tour includes great pictures and views of the island.  The information is appropriate for grade 4 and up.
• Mount Vernon – Fairfax County, Virginia
• Liberty Bell –  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
• White House Virtual Tour Washington D.C.

Landmarks Outside USA

This post gave you Historical Places to “visit”. Check back for upcoming posts that will include aquariums, zoos, museums, and National Parks. If you still want to “visit” other places, check out https://www.360cities.net/This site is the world’s largest collection of stock 360 degree images and videos. Teacher can bring hundreds of thousands of incredible 360 panoramas to your students.  It is Google Classroom compatible and Teachers can sign up for a FREE account.

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

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In recent years, a child’s “Executive Functioning” skills have been discussed as a possible reason for a child not doing well in school. “Executive Function” refers to a group of cognitive process that enables a person to set goals, plan, control behavior, complete tasks and achieve goals.  In schools, students who struggle with a number of those skills are often thought to be “not ready” for school.  Yes, they are sometimes considered to be “young behaviors”, but they are not ALWAYS. All kids’ experiences are different and that makes them the unique individuals they are.

However, knowing some “Executive Function” skills below will help parents and teachers work on those skills at home and in school. It gives us all an understanding of our own thinking and a realization that we are all a work in progress.

8 Executive Functioning Skills

• Flexible thinking – the ability to quickly switch focus and adjust to a new task or situation.  Ex. Can your child (most of the time) transition easily to do something else?
• Emotional Control – the ability to moderate emotions through rational thinking.  Ex. Can your child (most of the time) control their emotions?
• Working memory – the ability to hold information in memory while completing a task.  Ex. Can your child remember something, or they forget because they are distracted?
• Impulse control – the ability to stop or change behavior that is not appropriate.  Ex. Do they think before they act?
• Planning and organizing – the ability to plan for and organize current and future task demands.  Ex: Does your child appear not be able to plan to do things?
• Organization – the ability to create and manage system for organizing materials and spaces.  Does your child appear to be “scattered” most of the time?
• Self-monitoring – the inability to monitor one’s behavior. Ex. Does your child have difficulty following the established routine in class?
• Task initiation – the ability to start and follow through on a plan.  Ex. Does your child have difficulty solving problems for themselves?

After reading the list, you may be thinking that you, or someone you know, struggle in some of those areas.  You are 100% correct. We all, at one time or another, have difficulty with one or more of these skills.  There are days that I know that I am just not having a good day.  Perhaps, what I am really having is a day that I am not Executive Functioning well!

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

May Dates for Classroom FUN

May 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!

May Dates: Daily Celebrations

May 1         Kentucky Derby Day

May 1         Mother Goose Day

May 4         Brothers and Sisters Day

May 4         National Teachers Day

May 5         Cinco de Mayo

May 6         No Homework Day

May 9         Mother’s Day

May 12       National School Nurse Day

May 14       National Dance Like a Chicken Day

May 15       National Chocolate Chip Day

May 24       First Morse Code Message Sent

May 31       Memorial Day

May Weekly Observances

• National Bike Week – Third Week in May
• National Children’s Book Week – May 3-9, 2021
• Teacher Appreciation Week – May 3-7, 2021 (First Full Week in May)

May Monthly Observances

• Home Schooling Awareness Month
• American Bike Month

Other posts related to this topic:

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

Motivated Kids LEARN

Let’s face it.  School is not always FABULOUS.  Sometimes it is great but other times it is not. So, how do you keep kids motivated to learn?  Check out the ideas below to “capture and keep” a child’s attention.

5 Ways to Keep Kids Motivated

• Create a Learning Atmosphere – Social, emotional, and academic growth should extend outside the walls of the classroom. Parents and teachers who look at the world as learning opportunities promote a world of on-going learning.
• Enthusiasm – As parents and teachers we must show and sometimes “fake” enthusiasm.  IF we show enthusiasm kids are much more inclined to be interested in learning.
• Hook into Student Interest – Do we like to learn things we are not interested in?  Of course not.  So, find out what your child is interested in and focus learning in that direction.  Example: If you want them to learn to count and they like cars; count cars.  If they are interested in outer space and you want them to write, write about space. Flexibility and creativity on your part is key.
• Encourage Different Learning Styles – Since everyone processes information uniquely, in a class of 20+ kids there are going to be a variety of learning styles. As adults we might even have a dominant leaning style (the way we learn best) depending on the situation.  Exposing kids to ALL learning styles will help them be ready for ALL learning opportunities. Try planning experiences that tap into the 8 learning styles: visual, aural, verbal, social, solitary, logical, physical/tactile, and naturalistic.
• Learning Games – Games can provide opportunities for deeper learning and may motivate kids to learn. Who doesn’t want to have fun?  It is up to teachers and parents to find creative ways to teach kids and have fun at the same time.  We might even have some fun too!

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

Anchor Charts Anchor Learning

Anchor Charts are one of the best, most effective tools to support instruction (i.e., “anchor” the learning for students).  As you teach a lesson, you create a chart, together with your students, that captures the most important content and relevant strategies. After your chart is created, it can be displayed as needed—for a short unit, as a one-time reference tool, as something you add to over time, or as something that stays up all year. Anchor charts are best used as an interactive tool but are a great resource throughout the year.

Benefits of Anchor Charts

• Student engagement – Getting students involved in the process of creating learning tools to help them make connections to learning.
• Bring lessons to life – Posting the charts keeps relevant and current learning accessible to students, reminds them of prior learning, and enables them to make connections as new learning happens. Students can refer to them and use them as they think about the topic, question ideas, expand ideas, and/or contribute to discussions in class.
• Support independent work – Anchor charts provide students with a source to reference when working on their own.
• Charts for classroom management – Expectations and routines are listed that allow students to self-monitor their behavior.
• Create a library of reference materials – Perfect to use as a reference for commonly used information.  Like a word wall, students can use the anchor chart for reminders. (e.g., math terms, grammar, writing workshop)
• Reinforce classroom procedures – Provide students with a visual to remind them of routines that make your classroom run smoothly.

Anchor Chart Construction

Anchor charts are simple to make with common classroom resources.  If you have chart paper and an assortment of markers; you are ready to go.

• Make your anchor charts colorful and print-rich – Use different colors and bullet points to help students discriminate between strategies and quickly access information.
• Keep them simple and neat – Use easy-to-read graphics and clear organization. Avoid distracting, irrelevant details or stray marks, such as arrows or overemphatic use of underlining.
• Draw simple pictures to complement the words. – The more ways students can access information about a subject, the better.

It is easy to incorporate anchor charts into your lesson plans. All it takes is a clear purpose and some pre-planning. Anchor charts build a culture of literacy in the classroom by making thinking—both the teacher’s and students’—visible.

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

Math Websites: Fun for Kids

I have found 4 great Math websites that contain varied resources that can be used to review, remediate, and enrich student learning. The resources are easy to incorporate into home packets, math centers, homework, and classroom assignments. Many of the kid-friendly websites listed below also include games that review and reinforce concepts in a fun environment. There is a variety of topics and games that will give kids hours of learning and of course, FUN!

4 Great Math Websites to Explore

• Fun Brain – Fun Brain math games can be searched by topic or grade level.  The games reinforce key math concepts and engage young learners. Many of the games are kid-friendly theme based.  Be sure to check out the videos which help visual learners.  For pre-K and kindergarten students the “Playground” section will provide hours of fun. I have been using Fun Brain for over 20 years. This site includes other subject areas also.
• Hooda Math – Extensive resources that with a range of math activities from math fact practice to logic and reasoning. Site includes games that focus on higher order thinking and problem solving.  These challenges help to sharpen students’ math skills.
• Math Game Time – Site is designed for students from pre-K through 7th grade.  The site offers educational games focused on critical math concepts.  Games are fast paced and quickly engage students.  A favorite of 3rd through 5th graders.
• Cool Math Games – One of my favorite because it has some unique learning activities that are not seen in other websites.  The photo puzzles are great for developing spatial relations in young learners.  It also contains an extensive preview and review of precalculus and calculus in addition to both elementary and middle school games and reviews. A comprehensive website worth investigating. There is a fee if you choose to go ad-free.

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

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?

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.

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?

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

• 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.

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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.

Other posts related to this topic:

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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

Dr. Seuss Day 2021 is March 2nd

Dr. Seuss Day 2021 is also known as Read Across America Day. It is a yearly observance in the USA inaugurated by the NEA (National Education Association) that is held on the school day that is nearest to 2 March, Dr Seuss birthday. Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American artist, book publisher, animator, poet, a political cartoonist as well as an author. He is best known for authoring over 60 children’s books.

The Read Across America initiative began in 1997 to encourage children to read more and get excited about reading. The holiday mainly focuses on motivating children to read as it improves their performance in school. On this day, hospitals, bookstores, community centers, churches, libraries as well as schools host many events. So, it’s time to grab your Dr. Seuss hat get reading!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

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