Historical Dates and Learning: April & May 2019

April & May Historical Dates in lessons gives relevance to learning.

For kids in school, knowing historical dates helps them relate to history and builds their general knowledge. Knowing these dates can help teachers engage students in conversations and students may even be impressed  by their teachers historical knowledge!

April

National Poetry Month

April 1     April Fool’s Day

April 2    International Children’s Book Day

April 18 Paul Revere’s Famous Ride (1875)

April 19 Passover Begins

April 21 Easter

April 22 Earth Day

April 23 William Shakespeare born  (1854)

April 24 Administrative Professionals/Secretaries Day

May

National Bike Month

May 1         Mother Goose Day 

May 4         Kentucky Derby Day

May 5         Cinco de Mayo

May 5         First Day of Ramadan

May 6         National Nurses Day

May 7         National Teacher’s Day

May 8         School Nurses Day

May 12       Mother’s Day

May 26       Sally Ride’s Birthday (1951) First American Woman in Space

May 27 Memorial Day (Day to honor service men and women who gave their lives for freedom and country)

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Social Studies: Resources for Teaching

Great Social Studies resources for teaching.

Top Resources for Social Studies

I regularly attend Team Trivia Nights with friends at a local restaurant. The weekly event entices about 100 players to answer questions on a variety of subjects. Each night the winning teams are awarded gift cards to the restaurant. I’m proud to say we have won our share of gift cards. 

However, our team struggles with the History/Geography categories. I’ve often wondered whether we could do better if we studied these topics. However the topic is so broad, it seems next to impossible to even make a dent in the information.  Perhaps, we could do better in an area or two. A little more information about maps and flags might be helpful. However, what really gets us to attend each week is the laughs and great fun we have playing the game.  Go Wizards!

Social Studies teaches kids about culture, economics, history and geography.  Knowing about the world will help kids become better citizens.  Take a look at the K-12 Social Studies resources listed below and share with others.

  • EdHelperResources in different subjects, grades and age groups. Membership is available but there are many FREE resources.
  • Education World – Contains high quality in all subject areas.
  • EDSITEment – Includes hundreds of resources that are sorted by subject, theme and grade level.  The site is updated regularly.
  • History.com – The site includes many interactive activities.
  • History Matters is an annotated guide to best U.S. history websites.
  • https://threeringsconnections.org/social-studies-resources-for-teaching/ – Good all-around website for classroom resources in all subject areas. The site is updated by the Annenberg Foundation.
  • National Council for the Social Studies – Membership gives access to the entire site but offers excellent FREE teaching resources.   
  • PBS Learning Media – FREE standards-based videos and lesson plans.  The link is for New York teachers, but many resources can be used outside NYS.
  • The Learning Network – Teaching resources to support the news published in the New York Times.  Great site for Current Events.
  • The Library of Congress – Offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers use primary resources from the Library’s digital collections.
  • Smithsonian Learning Lab – Lesson plans for teachers, students and families in many subjects.
  • Teachinghistory.org –Funded by the U.S. Department of Education it has a large collection of K-12 resources.
  • Teach-nology – Includes lesson plans, rubrics, teaching tips, and general resources for the classroom.

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Pi Day is Today- March 14th

Pi Day is celebrated every year on March 14th (3/14). On this day people around the world celebrate the uniqueness of the mathematical term of Pi.

On Pi Day, March 14th (3/14), people  around the world celebrate the uniqueness of the mathematical term of Pi.
On Pi Day, March 14th (3/14), people around the world celebrate the uniqueness of the mathematical term of Pi.

Pi (π) Day has been celebrated every year on March 14th (3/14) since 1988. On this day people around the world celebrate the uniqueness of the mathematical term of Pi.

What is π anyway?

The π symbol, a Greek letter, is universally recognized as being Pi. Here’s the amazing fact about Pi.  If you divide any circle’s circumference by its diameter; the answer (whether it’s a pie plate or a planet) is always approximately 3.14.

Don’t Believe It?  3 Steps to Give it a Try

  1. Take a string and place it on the outside of a paper plate.  You just measured the circumference.
  2. Take a second piece of string and put it across the middle of the paper plate. You just measured the diameter.
  3. Compare the 2 pieces of string. Notice that you will need ABOUT 3.14 pieces of the diameter string to equal the circumference of the plate.  Try it on other circles around the house.  Neat, right?  

Pi is a homophone of pie: the 2 words are pronounced similarly but are spelled differently and mean different things. This first celebration featured participants marching around a large circle and consuming fruit pies.  Over the years, PI Day celebrations have become very popular and involve many different activities. 

Take some time today to celebrate Pi Day and enjoy a piece of pie!  

Encouraging Independent Reading

The strong correlation between Independent Reading and academic success is a good reason to encourage your child to read independently.

The most critical skill for success in school or in life is the ability to read well. Children who are interested and motivated to read tend to do more independent reading. Take a few minutes to look at some quick and easy ways to encourage your child to read independently.

What is Independent Reading?

Independent reading is an easy and effective way to reinforce the joy of reading. Independent reading is the type of reading a child does on their own with minimal to no assistance from an adult. For young readers, independent “reading” is little more than looking at the pictures in a book

Why is Independent Reading important?

Research shows that there is a strong correlation between Independent Reading and academic success.  Independent Reading has been found to develop extensive vocabularies, builds stamina, develops problem-solving skills, strengthens comprehension and helps kids learn how reading works. Students have also shown to help students score higher on achievement tests and have greater content knowledge than those who do not. With all that research, why wouldn’t teachers and parents encourage Independent Reading?

Ways to Encourage Independent Reading at Home

Teachers are aware of the importance of Independent Reading, but some find it hard to find time in their daily classroom schedules. The balancing of high-stakes testing and increased grade level expectations have resulted in many teachers assigning students to read independently at home.  This request has made families play a critical role in supporting independent reading. This role may seem daunting for some parents, but don’t worry, you may be readier than you think.  

  • Find books that are “just right” – A “just right” book means students should be able to read their books with at least 95% accuracy without adult help. This ensures that the book is not too difficult to read independently, and the child will experience success.  If you are unsure of your child’s independent reading level check your child’s last report card or ask your child’s teacher.
  • Role modelsParents are more likely to raise kids who are frequent readers when they are readers. It’s important for students to see you prioritize reading for yourself. Read different things and explain to your child your reading choices.  Highlight that reading can be done anywhere for enjoyment or information. 
  • Encourage reading for enjoyment – Children will read more if they choose a book they enjoy.  Set up a collection of reading materials that includes some of their favorite topics, authors or characters. Make it easy to find different topics and types of texts, such as non-fiction books, fictions, magazines and newspapers, poetry, etc. A bonus of reading different topics is that kids will be better able to understand the variety of subjects in school.
  • Talk, Talk, TalkGive children an opportunity to share what they have read with you.  This encourages them to read more and helps reinforce what they have learned. Try partner reading in which you both read for 5 minutes independently (time can be longer depending on child age and interest) and then share what you read.   
  • Pack some books in their suitcase – Send some “just right” books with kids when they visit friends and relatives. Encourage your child to share their reading adventures. Kids will love sharing their reading ability and relatives will love to hear them read. A perfect match! 
  • Use spare moments wisely:  Carry something in your handbag or car for your child to read when you find yourselves with a few minutes to spare.  Waiting in doctors’ offices or car rides are great opportunities to read.  When your child is finished reading ask simple questions about the book such as:
    • What did you like or not like about the book?
    • Who was the main character?
    • What was the main idea?
    • How did the story begin or end?
    • What was your favorite part?
    • What part didn’t you like

Independent Reading lays the foundation for becoming enthusiastic lifelong readers. Adding a focus on Independent Reading in your home, for even a short period of time each day, can be effective to strengthen your child’s reading ability.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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St. Patrick’s Day Resources

Join in on the St. Patrick’s Day fun and include some activities in your classroom this year!

Join the fun and check out the great St. Patrick’s Day resources.

St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th ) can be a great learning opportunity for students to learn facts about the origin of St. Patrick’s Day and Irish culture.  The following 2 sites include everything you need to celebrate this popular holiday in your classroom this year. 

  • https://www.teachervision.com/st-patricks-day  The site includes lessons and activities to help you explore St. Patrick’s Day in your classroom.  Free printable worksheets, art projects, literature activities and history activities are included to help your students learn about the holiday and have lots of fun.
  • http://www.nea.org/tools/lessons/51015.htm  Help your students learn about and explore Irish culture, history and traditions, including Irish folktales literature, recipes, Celtic art and mythology, the Great Potato Famine, and more. Resources for St. Patrick’s Day include videos, arts & crafts, worksheets, interactive maps, and tutorials.

  On St. Patrick’s Day “Everyone is Irish”.

  It’s time to get your “GREEN” on.

  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Educational Keywords Get Teaching Jobs

By including educational keywords in a resume, a candidate shows that they are familiar with latest research and techniques. The words should also be included in the interview with personal examples and data to show them you can “walk the talk”. Using and knowing educational buzzwords could help you edge out your competition.

Adding educational keywords along  relevant skills, experience, and strengths may help you land a teaching job.
The interview process is not the time to be shy about your skillset or your desire for a job at a specific school.

By including educational keywords in a resume, a candidate shows that they are familiar with latest research and techniques.  The words should also be included in the interview with personal examples and data to show them you can “walk the talk”. Using and knowing educational buzzwords could help you edge out your competition.

Educational Keywords: What Are Interviewers Looking For?

I have been asked dozens of times what I look for in resumes. There are a myriad of issues involved in hiring a new teacher. Along with the candidates’ skillset and building/ district needs, I may also be looking for specific skills or a personality-type to enhance grade level collaboration.   Sometimes it was simply “something” in the resume that peaked my curiosity to offer an interview slot.

Educational Keywords: Will They Get Me A Job?

The number of applicants for a job depends on the position, timing of the posting and very often, the school or district hiring. Sometimes for just 1 or 2 teaching positions I would receive 200 resumes to review. Therefore, candidates need to create a resume that will impress the reviewer. Whether it’s certification/experience or a knowledge base, a candidate’s goal when submitting a resume should be to get an interview. Remember, if you don’t get in the front door, an interview committee will never get to see how great you are!

I’m sure over the 20 years as an administrator I missed interviewing some great candidates because their resume just didn’t catch my eye or there was a spelling or grammatical error. (yes, spelling DOES count). So, one of my top suggestions for teacher candidates is to include position-appropriate educational keywords in your resume.

Educational Keywords: What Are They?  

Educational Keywords are education buzzwords to include in your resume to help administrators identify good candidates for further review. By including keywords in your resume and interview you are highlighting that you are a knowledgeable candidate. For some interview committees, including keywords may not make a difference but for others it is high on their priority list. My suggestion is if using keywords to highlight your training and experience will increase the chances of opening your new classroom door, why not give it a try?

How to Use Education Keywords Wisely?  

A serious candidate should create a resume that matches a specific opening.  Yes, a generic resume will be accepted but it’s the resume with specific information about the position that will get yours to the top of the pile. A good source of information to create your unique resume is both the job posting and the school/district website.  

What Educational Keywords to Include?

The keywords to include in your resume and interview should highlight both the position available and your education/experience. The location of words is also important. A snapshot of your skills should be at the beginning of your resume to keep reviewers interested to read further.

In general, for early childhood positions be sure to include your knowledge of Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) and the importance of play.  Both concepts create the “bedrock” of strong early childhood education programs and should be acknowledged and celebrated in an interview.

K-5 positions should highlight all aspects of literacy (including math) and the importance of ongoing assessment that “drives instruction”. For secondary positions (6-12), administrators are looking for teachers who are strong in pedagogy but are also experts in the subject area. Be sure to highlight your “knowledge skill set” (e.g. primary sources, Document Based Questions (DBQ). 

Other Educational Keywords to Consider

Along with grade level and content specific vocabulary the following list contains words to consider when creating your resume: Interdisciplinary teaching approaches, English as a Second Language (ESL), classroom management, Response to Intervention (RTI), special education process including terms, teaching and learning, formative and summative assessments, teaching across the curriculum, mindfulness, social and emotional learning, teacher-parent relations and communication, technology integration, team planning, differentiated instruction, brain-based learning, parent involvement,  discipline strategies, literacy across the curriculum, state learning standards, gradual release of responsibility.

Final Thoughts:

Searching for a school to start or to continue your career is a big undertaking. An interview committee’s goal is to get the very best candidate for their school.  By creating a keyword-rich resume you are showing recruiters that you are a good candidate to interview. Our students need good teachers. The interview process is not the time to be shy about your skillset or your desire for a job at a specific school.  Good Luck!  

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Science Fair for Kindergarten

Participating in a Science Fair is a great way for kids to explore the world and how things work.  Young kids are curious and love to explore heir surrounding and nature, so it’s a perfect fit.  

However, for some parents the announcement by their child that they want to participate in the school Science Fair brings an onset of stomach butterflies. Not to worry, this post should make the Science Fair journey a bit more enjoyable for everyone!

Science Fair Teach Some Valuable Lessons

  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers are growing at a fast pace with many jobs expected in the future. A Science Fair is a great introduction to the world of Science.
  • A Science Fair project includes problem solving and critical thinking skills.  It encourages kids to questions how things work. 
  • Bringing a project from an idea to a conclusion is not easy. Science Fair projects have definitive steps which helps teach kids a problem-solving timeline.  
  • Reflecting on Science Fair results helps kids to think about what happened and to consider things they could have done differently.  This gives them a real-world learning experience.
  • Participating in a Science Fair gives students the opportunity to communicate information in writing and speaking.  A good opportunity to help build self-confidence.

Friendly Science Fair Vocabulary

If your child’s Science Fair packet is already leaving you confused, don’t stress.  Here’s a list of science project terms and definitions you will help support your child’s project.

  • Hypothesis:  A hypothesis is simply an educated guess about what will happen in your experiment.
  • Materials: This is a list of exactly what you used (or plan to use) in your experiment:
  • Purpose: (Problem) Question (all mean the same thing) What does your project hope to find out.  What are you trying to test? 
  • Procedure: – A step by step description of how to do your experiment. Another person should be able to follow your procedure and be able to do the same experiment.
  • Observations: Write down any observations that you see happening.  This could be by the minute, hour, daily or longer.  Recording observations will depend on your experiment. Your information could be listed in a graph or chart.
  • Conclusion: From looking at the results, what statement can you make about what happened in your experiment and how it relates to the hypothesis. 
  • Variables – When doing a science experiment, variables are things YOU control to make good judgments about your experiment.
  • Independent variable: the thing you change in the experiment. Everything else stays the same
  • Dependent variable:  the thing that changes because of what you did (what happened because of your independent variable).

The Science Fair Board Made Easy

  • Buy a 3-sided Science Display board at a local craft store.  They are also available at a similar price at a VERY LARGE online store.
  • Buy or make headings for Science Fair– See the vocabulary terms listed for headings.
  • Use PowerPoint software to create slides to print the information. This allows kids to choose the font, design, and color.  Perfect for the young scientists that are in the early stages of writing. Also support technology skills.

Science Fair Result 

A Science Fair project can be the ultimate hands-on learning experience.  It can help kids understand scientific ideas and helps them remember the information they learned. 

Example: Miss M’s Science Fair project

  • Hypothesis:  Water will make plants grow best.  
  • Materials: 4 Primrose Plans, water, soda, iced tea, 2% milk, 4 saucers
  • Purpose: (Problem) Question (all mean the same thing) Which liquid will make the plants grow best?   
  • Procedure: Buy 4 plants of same type and of similar size.  Place plants in saucers.  Label each plant to be watered by 4 different liquids (water, 2% milk, soda and iced tea).  Put ½ cup of liquid in each saucer every 3 days.  Allow the plant to absorb the liquid for 30 minutes.  Observe plant and record observations before, during and after watering.  Look for changes throughout the project and record observations.
  • Observations: Record observations in journal and take photos of plants.
  • Conclusion: The plant watered with water grew tallest and had healthy looking leaves.  The plants watered with soda and milk died quickly.  The plant watered with 2% milk did not die but did not look as healthy as the plant only watered with water. The hypothesis was correct.   
  • Independent variable:  4 different types of liquids.
  • Dependent variablePlant growth and healthiness.   

Great Resources for Science Fair Projects

  • Google Science Fair– A resource library to support every step of the Science Fair; from idea to completed project.
  • Science Buddies – A collection of project ideas in all areas of science.  The Topic Selection Wizard tool is fantastic and can help you find a project you will enjoy!

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Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Decades of research show that the more children read, the better their reading skills. Take a look at 7 Reasons to read Dr. Seuss to your kids.

I have fond memories of reading Dr. Seuss as a child. I vividly recall reading the “Green Eggs and Ham”with my aunt and giggling at the silliness.  Sadly, I don’t recall reading many other books as a child, although I’m sure I read them.  Over the years I have met with concerned parents that were unsure if the “nonsense” language in Dr. Seuss books would harm their child’s language development. I understood their concerns and shared with them some reasons why reading Dr. Seuss books with their child can be beneficial. 

Why Read Dr. Seuss Books?

Do I LOVE Dr. Seuss books? No. The truth is there are many books that I have read to kids that I didn’t love. However, there are decades of research that show that the more children read, the better their reading skills. As an educator it is my job to get kids to love books, so they are motivated to read.  I believe that exposing kids to different authors and styles helps them choose their favorites. Dr. Seuss books are just some of the MANY books I read to kids. 

7 Reasons to Read Dr. Seuss

  • Silliness Abounds- Dr. Seuss books capture a child’s attention and make kids laugh. Whether it’s the nonsense language, the unexpected stories or the colorful illustrations, silliness abounds. Many kids enjoy hearing Dr. Seuss stories because they think they are funny. What young child doesn’t enjoy something silly?  Hearing adults reading silliness helps them see that reading is fun!  The books are perfect for those of us that sometimes are too serious.  Reading Dr. Seuss books with a child will give you ticket to “get your silly on”!
  • IllustrationsThe unique and imaginative illustrations help build a child’s vocabulary.  The simple color palette of blue, red, white and black also make the pictures recognizable and easy to understand and remember.
  • Great Read-Aloud Books – Dr. Seuss books sound great when read aloud.  The stories are just made for facial expressions and different voice inflections. You just can’t help doing it when reading one of his stories.
  • Rhyme – Early readers need to understand that words are made up of different sounds and the manipulation of these sounds creates words.   Hearing rhymes helps kids hear similar sounds. The rhymes included in the books is also a great exposure to poetry. 
  • Nonsense Words Are Important – Dr. Seuss books include lots of nonsense words to keep kids engaged in the story. Nonsense words deliberately draw attention to rhyme and helps develop a child’s “phonological awareness”. Phonological awareness is a basis for reading. A child with phonological awareness skills can manipulate sounds or words, or “play” with sounds or words. By engaging in word play, children learn to recognize patterns among words and use this knowledge to read and build words.
  • Sight Words Included – Sight words are words that are used commonly throughout texts we read every day. Dr. Seuss books give children experience in seeing these words in texts and helps them commit them to memory.
  • “Reading” Become Easy – Many of Dr. Seuss’ book use simple words chosen for a beginner reader.  Along with the rhyming and repetition it helps early readers remember the words and become “readers” quite quickly.  This type of “reading” helps build their confidence and motivates a child to read.

What Am I Doing on Dr. Seuss Day?

I’m grabbing my big red and white hat (doesn’t every retired Primary Principal still have one?) and I’m going to read some Dr. Seuss books to my grandkids.   I’m leaving behind any concerns and am going to share my memories of reading Dr. Seuss books when I was a child. I’m sure the thought of me being a child will bring about a chorus of giggles; and that’s OK.   Perhaps the girls will also forget the Dr. Seuss’ rhymes and nonsensical language that we shared together. My hope is that they remember fondly the laughing and the silliness of reading together. Thank you, Dr. Seuss! 

Other Dr. Seuss Resources

ThreeRingsConnections’ February 2019 Newsletter

Good teachers know how to bring out the best in students.
Good teachers know how to bring out the best in students.

Two months down in 2019- how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 11 February posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 3 down and 9 more to go! Have a great month!

February 2019 Archives

February’s Most Popular Posts:

3 most viewed by our blog readers. Were they on your favorite list?

My Favorite February Posts:

Take a look at a few posts coming next month

  • Science Fair for a Kindergartner
  • Vocabulary Development – Fancy Up Your Talk
  • Educational Buzzwords: How to use them to get that job!

Historical Dates and Learning: March & April

Including Historical Dates in lessons gives relevance to learning.

For kids in school, knowing historical dates helps them relate to history and builds their general knowledge. Knowing these dates can help teachers engage students in conversations and students may even be impressed  by their teachers historical knowledge!

March

Music in Our Schools Month

March 2                Iditarod begins

March 2 Dr. Seuss Birthday

March 2 Read Across America

March 5                Mardi Gras begins

March 10              Daylight Savings Time begins

March 14               Scientist Albert Einstein born (1879)

March 17              St. Patrick’s Day

March 20               First Day of Spring

March 29                Coca Cola invented (1886)

April

National Poetry Month

April 1               April Fool’s Day

April 1 April Fool’s Day

April 2    International Children’s Book Day

April 18 Paul Revere’s Famous Ride (1875)

April 19th Passover Begins

April 21st Easter

April 22nd Earth Day

April 23rd William Shakespeare born,  (1854)

April 24th Administrative Professionals/Secretaries Day

April 26th  Arbor Day

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Math Enrichment Problems: Feb. Grades 2-3

Math Enrichment Problems

Welcome to the 3rd month of threeringsconnections.org  Monthly Math Enrichment Problems post, Each month I post some Math Enrichment problems for grades 2-3.  I hope you will find them useful with your students in class or your kids at home.

Don’t forget to use 1 of your 6 problem solving strategies: 

  1. Draw a picture
  2. Guess and Check
  3. Use a table or list
  4. Find a pattern
  5. Logical reasoning
  6. Working backwards (try a simpler version first)

Problem Solving – Here we go! 

  1. If 1 chicken can lay 3 eggs in 4 days, how many eggs can 3 chickens lay in 8 days?
  2. A machine takes any number fed into it, adds 9 and then subtracts 1.  Abby fed the number 10 into the machine.  When the answer came out, she fed that number back into the machine.  What final number came out of the machine?
  3. At the pet shop there were 7 puppies in one cage and 5 kittens in another cage.  How many more feet (paws) were there in the puppy cage than in the kitten cage?
  4. Donna, Jerry and Noreen and ken collected empty soda cans to return for deposit.  They received 5 cents for each can and received a total of $2.  Donna collected 18 cans, Jerry 9 cans and Noreen 20 cans. How many cans did Ken collect?
  5. A passenger train has 297 passengers aboard. There are 45 passengers in each of the first 4 cars of the train.  Each of the remaining 3 cars has an equal number of passengers.  How many passengers are there in one of those cars?
  6. If     X   – 4 – 2 = 5, how much is  X + X?          +
  7. IF a + 11 = 35, how much is a – 11?

Answers:

  1. (18)        If 1 chicken can lay 3 eggs in 4 days, then 1 chicken can lay 6 eggs in 8 days.  Three chickens can     lay 18 eggs in 8 days.
  2. (26)        10 + 9 – 1 = 18, 18 +9 -1 = 26
  3. (8)          7 puppies have 28 paws total and 5 kittens have 20 paws total.  There are 8 more paws in the puppy cage than in the kitten cage.
  4. (53)        To get $2 for returning cans that are each 5 cents, 40 cans had to be returned.  Adding Donna’s cans (18) + Jerry’s cans (9) and Noreen’s cans (20) the total # cabs together are 47 leaving Ken to return 53 cans.
  5. (39)        45 passengers X 4 cars = 180 passengers.  Since the total passengers were 297-180 that leaves 117 passengers divided equally into 3 cars.  That means 39 passengers in each of the remaining 3 cars.
  6. (22)        To make the statement true:  11 must go in first box so that 11-4-2 = 5 and therefore, 11 + 11 = 22.
  7. (13)        a = 24 and therefore 24-11 =13.

Don’t forget to check in NEXT MONTH for more Enrichment Problems 

Other posts related to this topic

Math Enrichment Problems: Jan. Grades 2-3 

Math Enrichment Problems: Dec. Grades 2-3   December 15, 2018

Math Enrichment: How To Encourage?  December 13, 2018

Enrichment in Class? Is Your Child Being Challenged?  December 4, 2018

Highly-abled students need attention too!  September 17, 2018

New Teacher: Best Resources

7 Best websites to support new teachers

If you're looking for quick tips, easy-to-implement ideas, and practical advice, here are some great resources for new teachers covering a range of topics.
Resources to help new teachers survive the first year of teaching.

A new teacher will face challenges and pressures during their first few years in teaching. However, there are some great resources online. Take a look at the quick tips, easy-to-implement ideas, and practical advice on the following websites. The resources cover a range of topics to help your first few weeks run smoothly and your first year.

7 Websites to Support New Teachers

Edutopia is a trusted source shining a spotlight on what works in education.  The George Lucas Foundation funds the initiative to provide educational resources for educators and parents. The Resources Toolkit for New Teachers contains an array of articles, videos, and other resources that are chock-full of tips and advice.

Scholastic New Teacher’s Survival Guide is posted in monthly installments to navigate the first year of teaching.  Tips on classroom management, curriculum and working with parents are included.

TeacherVision: New Teacher Resources – Everything a beginning teacher needs for a successful year. In addition, the site contains tips for the first day, classroom-management, and lesson plans. 


TeachersFirst –  A  rich collection of lessons, units, and web resource delivered in a user-friendly format.  Sign up is FREE.

The National Education Association (NEA)Teacher Toolkit offers a collection of blogs, videos, and other resources on a range of subjects.  First time users must register.

Teaching Channel New Teacher Survival Guide – includes various resources to support new teachers related to your first year teaching.

U.S. Department of EducationSurvival Guide for New Teachers is written to give research and information on first-year teaching. 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

On this Valentine’s Day, a great big Thank You to all the teachers who LOVE to teach and teach kids to LOVE learning. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thank you to all the teachers who LOVE to teach and teach kids to LOVE learning.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Science Fair is COMING!

Learning about science is at the heart of a Science Fair project.

Learning about science is at the heart of a Science Fair project.
Learning about science is at the heart of a Science Fair project.

So, the secret is out, I love a Science Fair.  However, this is a trait that was not inherited since my adult kids are not big fans! I know I’m to blame, partially at least, for loving to do science experiments with them when they were young. At one point, they loved doing them too. But at times they just wanted to do something else and were just not interested in designing aluminum foil boats to see which boat could carry the most amount of pennies. What a surprise for me! In case you were wondering, your boat design should include sides and the pennies carefully placed and distributed evenly across the boat. A 4 X 4-inch boat can hold well over 100 pennies! I’m sure there are a few people out there that just might want to give that a try.

The Science Fair packet comes home

Last week, my granddaughter in Kindergarten came home with a Science Fair packet from school. Excitedly, she explained that high school students visited her classroom and made lava come out of a volcano made out of Play- Doh!  She was thrilled to learn that she could participate in the Science Fair by just doing an experiment. Great marketing high school students!  Miss M wanted to sign up IMMEDIATELY!

Reluctant at first to share with me the news about Miss M’s Science Fair, my daughter broke the news cautiously to me. So as not to appear too excited, I calmly walked to the basement door and when out of sight, excitedly ran down the stairs to find my collection of Science Fair books. After suggesting different experiments that could be done “quick and easily”, she informed me that she already had an idea.

Miss M’s experiment question will be “What type of liquid will make plants grow best”?  She has already checked the refrigerator to find different watering liquids and decided she would try milk, iced tea, lemonade, and apple juice. Yes, she is missing a “few things” but she’ll get it done. 

Miss M has already shown that she is curious and enthusiastic. Two characteristics needed to be a successful scientist. Science Fair, here she comes!

Coming Soon: The Science Fair Experiment Continues  

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Kids: It’s time for a “shower of hearts”

Our hearts are ready and we are ready to "Shower Mom and Dad" with hearts!
Our hearts are ready and we are ready to “Shower Mom and Dad” with hearts!

With Valentine’s Day, just around the corner, it’s time to share your love with mom and dad.  So, you say you don’t have any money or a way to get to the store to get them a present?  Not a problem!  You can give them a great present by making them hearts and all you will need is paper, scissors, tape, and something to write with.  So, let’s use our 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why) and let’s add an H for How are we going to do our hearts project.

  • Who: Kids (young and old) 
  • What: cut out 14 paper hearts with one reason on each of why you love them
  • When: Every day from February 1st through February 14th
  • Where: You can make them anywhere but you are going to tape them on your parents bedroom door.
  • Why:  This is a nice way that you can show them how much you love them.
  • How: Find someone older (like a GG or GPa) than can help you cut out the hearts and add reasons why you love mom and dad.  They can also help you add tape to each heart. You get to be the “heart hanger” and will hang one heart every morning on your parents’ bedroom door starting on February 1st and ending on February 14th which is Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day your heart can say Happy Valentine’s Day! Shhhh! Try to be quiet so they will be REALLY SURPRISED.  They are going to love it!  

Some ideas of what you can say:

  • Because you love me
  • I love you
  • I love it when we play.
  • I love it when we have snack.
  • I love it when we cook.
  • I love it when you let me play on your phone.
  • I love it when we have dance parties.
  • I love it when we go to the movies.
  • I love it when we go on a picnic
  • I love it when you take me to dance class.
  • I love it when you take me to school.
  • I love it when you pick me up at school.
  • I love it when you come to my school.
  • I love it when we have mommy and me time.
  • I love your hugs.
  • I love your kisses.
  • I love it when we read a book.
  • I love it when we take a walk.
  • I love it when we snuggle.
  • I love it when we play ______________.
  • I love it when you make me dinner.
  • I love having breakfast with you.
  • I love it when you tickle me.
  • I love it when we play together.
  • I love it when we go to the store.
  • I love it when we play outside.
  • I love it when we watch TV.
  • I love it when we watch a movie.
  • I love it when we go to a movie.

Shortcut:  Ask an adult to buy some paper hearts at a Dollar Store.

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Your Child’s Vision Should Be Checked

Your child’s vision should be checked.

Your child's vision should be checked
Your child’s vision is important for school success.

How is the child’s vision?  That was a common question to our school’s s Response to Intervention (RTI) Committee, when a struggling student was referred to the committee. Our school nurse, a key contributor to RTI, would give an update to the team on the most recent vision screening.  If necessary, she would re-screen the child to be sure to rule out vision issues as a reason for the child’s classroom difficulties. A student may indeed be struggling in class if they are having vision or hearing issues. Thank you, Miss Peggy and School Nurses, everywhere!

I have a personal connection with school vision screenings.  In the mid 60’s it was a school nurse that discovered that I could not see out of one eye and recommended to my parents to have my vision checked.  I was diagnosed with amblyopia, the most common cause of vision problems in children. Commonly known as “lazy eye”, one eye is weaker that the other because the brain area for one eye didn’t fully develop.  This causes the loss of the eye to see details. If detected early, it is reversible. Unfortunately, in my case, it resulted in permanent vision loss.  My disability has made me hyper-vigilant to be sure young children get eye exams at a young age.

When should your child’s vision be tested?

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should receive additional eye exams at 3 years of age, and just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade at about age 5 or 6.

For school-aged children, the AOA recommends an eye exam every two years if no vision correction is required. Your child’s pediatrician should checks your child’s eyes during routine exams and will make a referral if a problem is suspected. School screenings, although valuable. should not be a substitute for an eye exam completed by a doctor.  

How important are eye exams to learning?

Healthy vision is essential to a child’s ability to learn and to reach their academic potential. In order to be successful in school your child needs the following basic visual skills for learning:

  • distance vision
  • near vision
  • eye movement skills
  • focusing skills
  • peripheral awareness
  • eye/hand coordination

At your child’s next routine physical exam, be sure to check with your doctor if a vision problem is suspected.  They may even refer you to an eye doctor that specialized in pediatrics.  Good vision is key to a child’s physical development and success in school.  

Other resources to support your child’s vision

Vision for Kids

American Optometric Association

Calling 911 Needs to be Taught to Kids

Would your child know what to do in an emergency? Teaching your child how to call 9-1-1.

In case of emergency Call 911
Teaching children how to use 9-1-1 is crucial and could save lives.

911, I wondered. Recently I passed our local fire department and saw their notification board with the question “Does your child know how to call 911?” I wondered if my grandkids knew how to use 911 in an emergency? So, just to be sure I put together a post to help parents have the information easily accessible to them. Knowing what to teach your child about 911 is essential to ensure they use it properly and do not call 911 unnecessarily. Teaching children how to use 911 is crucial and could save lives.

When to Call 911

Teach kids that a 911 emergency is when someone needs help right away because of an injury or an immediate danger. Help your child understand that major things like fires, seriously injured people and intruders in your home are real emergencies and things like a missing toy or a flat bike tire are not.

They should call 911 if:

  • there’s a fire
  • someone is unconscious after an accident, drinking too much, or an overdose of pills or drugs
  • someone has trouble breathing, like during an asthma flare-up or seizure
  • someone is choking
  • they see a crime happening, like a break-in, mugging, etc.
  • there’s a serious car accident

How to Call 911

  • Call 9-1-1 if you think you have an emergency and explain the situation to the dispatcher.
  • Make sure your kids know that the emergency operator that answers the phone will ask them questions about the emergency and it’s OK to share information.
  • Stress that they should call 9-1-1 AFTER they are in a safe place.
  • Explain to your child that it is important to stay as calm as possible so they can give information to the 911 dispatcher and follow the dispatcher’s instructions. So the operator can understand all their important information.

Helpful Tips to Teach Your Child 911:

  • Never say “nine eleven.” There is no eleven on a telephone keypad or dial. Always say “nine-one-one.”
  • Calling 9-1-1- is very important. Never call it unless it is necessary. Calling 9-1-1 as a joke, might slow down the emergency help from getting to someone who really needs it. They should also know that people who call as a joke can also get into trouble. But if they call 9-1-1 by mistake, don’t hang up. When the dispatcher answers, tell him/her that they made a mistake and that there is no emergency.
  • Post your address near the phone or in a place everyone has access (i.e. memo board, refrigerator, etc.) and be sure the kids know where it is and how to read it. If you live in an apartment building, make sure your child knows the apartment number and floor you live on.
  • Once your child knows how to use 9-1-1, practice different scenarios to make them more familiar with the concept without frightening them.

Additional Resources:

Energy Balancing: GG vs. Grandkids Visit

Grandchildren are full of energy.
Grandkids are full of energy

Let’s face it, as grandparents most of us just don’t have the same energy levels we had when our kids were young.  So, when the grandkids are coming to visit, I plan an “Energy Defense” strategy. If you’re wondering what that is; it is the 3 Ps:  Plan, Plan, and Plan. You love to have them visit and want them to have a good time, but you also want to enjoy the time with them.  Out of necessity, I’ve figured out a plan that works for me.  I call it my 9-point Energy Defense Strategy.  Take a look, maybe some of the ideas can work for you.  Good Luck! :    

Planning an Energy Defense

  • Start your list – Make a list of things that you THINK they MAY want to do.
  • Get ideas from the kids – Before their visit, ask them if they have activities that they want to do so you can get ready. IF they come up with new ideas after they arrive, do them if you can.  If not, tell them you’ll add it to the list of things to do the next time they visit.  
  • Over planDon’t be surprised to find out that it wasn’t enough.  Kids are full of energy and fly through activities.
  • Gather materials – Prep the materials you need so they are “ready to go”.
  • Know your Energy levelPacing yourself will help you get through the day. The trick is to get the grandkids to Think they are choosing everything and not that their choices impact your pacing method.
  • Label by Energy Levels – Think of activities as if sorting into 3 Energy (E) buckets: active, quiet and solo activities.
    • Active – activities that you need to be involved in.  Either to teach, play or manage. 
    • Quiet – activities they can do with you but do not need active involvement.  Playing a game, reading together, talking, watching a show. 
    • Solo —activities are things they can do alone, and your hands-on assistance is not needed.  Ex. coloring, drawing, independent play.
  • Order of activities – In your planning, keep in mind a good balance of your E buckets. Try giving them 2 or 3 choices of possible activities which gives them ownership in the planning.    
  • Mealtime – It never fails that I don’t seem to have the right food in the house for whichever child visits. One child only eats white bread, one only brown, one only eats meat, one only pasta, one only juice that’s watered down and one only water.  I try to get it right, but I haven’t yet achieved 100% (not even close) mastery on this objective. It’s a “work in progress”.   
  • Set Morning and 3 o’clock snack times – Setting a “snack time” helps to hold off their hunger until the next meal and decreases the amount of “grazing all day”. Morning snack time can vary but 3 o’clock snack has been set in stone since my kids were small. As a multi-tasking mom, I set a time to have “uninterrupted mommy and kids time”. Now, just the name has changed to “GiGI and grandkids time”. It also serves as a built-in quiet activity to rest up for our next adventure. Oh, how life has changed!   


20 Activities Planned and Unplanned for a 7-hour visit with 3 of my grandkids (sorted by bucket level)  

  • Shared reading of Thomas Edison biography. Child reads a page and I read a page. (Q)
  • Math problems (A)
  • Basketball outside (A)
  • Matchbox cars (independent play) (S)
  • Play Jenga and teach 4-year-old how to play the game. (A)
  • Color (S)
  • Mazes in coloring books (Q)
  • Make a bear using paper plates. (Q)
  • Find videos online of Grizzly bears, brown bears and panthers to watch. (You Tube and zoos have great sites). Be sure to watch videos before child to avoid any unpleasant animal behavior. (Q)
  • Identify the birds at the bird feeder.  Try to identify the bird by researching on the computer. Talk about size of head, beak, coloring, eating. (A)
  • Watch baby polar bear video at the zoo and talk about mammals (Q)
  • I also am a big believer that watching a show, or a singalong show is not a bad thing while kids eat. I consider it to be “lunch or dinner theater”.  I give them 3 GiGi “chosen and approved” options and ask them to choose one.  Sometimes they must take turns being the “remote boss” to get any agreement on a show.  (Q)
  • Hide and seek (A)
  • Independent play with baby dolls. (S)
  • Play musical instruments and put on a show. (A)
  • Create a parachute for an action figure and drop from different heights.  (A)
  • Science Experiment: “How many pennies can fit in an aluminum foil boat before it sinks?” (A)
  • Science Experiment: “How can we get a paperclip to float?”  (A)


“Bucket Overflowing”: System Is Not Perfect

Be prepared that your buckets may overflow and that the kids may not like all your planned activities.  Kids change every day along with their likes and dislikes.  If your planned activities are not a big hit one day, recycle the idea for the next visit.  That also works if you had great success with an idea.  Why invent the wheel? Maybe they’ll ask to do it again their next visit.  

When they leave, it’s time to sit back and think about the great day you had together. Of course, with your feet up.  I love being a GiGi!


Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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ThreeRingsConnections’ Blog Content January 2019

Education is the means of developing our greatest abilities.
Education is the means of developing our greatest abilities.

One month down in 2019- how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? Was one of your resolutions to fit in some professional development for yourself? If so, take a look at January’s archives and catch up on your resolution. All January’s posts are below, as well as, all 72 posts since I started this blog in September 2018. With this second Newsletter post I’ve achieved 2 months of MY resolution to post a monthly newsletter for Threeringsconnections.org.  2 down and 10 more to go! Have a great month!

January 2019 Archives

January’s Most Popular Posts:

3 most viewed by our blog readers. Were they on your favorite list?

My Favorite January Posts:

Take a look at a few posts coming next month

  • Calling 911 Needs to be Taught to Kids
  • Kids: It’s time for a “shower of hearts”
  • Historical Dates and Learning: Feb. & March

Kid Songs and “Battle of the Sexes”

Mrs. Bear wears the winning medal.
Mrs. Bear wears the winning medal.

On a recent vacation, I participated in a “Battle of the Sexes” competition and went head to head against my husband.  Unfortunately, I lost the speed test of pulling tissues from a box. Ladies, it’s all in the wrists; which I learned too late. Please learn from my mistakes.

However, I did make it to the finals where the challenge was a race to sing songs without repeating a song already performed in the round. So, while the guys were thinking of current songs, I channeled my inner Kindegarten teacher and broke into kid songs! Isn’t it amazing how you can remember all the words to “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”, but you can’t remember where you put your keys? Who won?  Sorry guys, but you can’t go wrong with singing kids songs!

What kid songs should I sing?

This event reminded me that when my first grandchild was born, my son told me he didn’t know any songs to sing to the baby.  I reminded him of the nursey rhymes, Christmas songs, Irish songs and kid songs we sang together when he was little. Armed with a musical repertoire, he was ready in case a song or two was needed to soothe his son.

Here’s a quick A to Z list of kid songs

If you too need to have a few kids songs on hand, here’s a quick A to Z list of songs to jog your memory. You will see some “author creativity” in songs that start with G, Q, U, V, X, Y and Z since there were not many choices. (or maybe ones that I could remember!) Don’t afraid to be creative when you are stuck!  Include your child’s name or something they like to do and your kids will love it!  

  • ABC Song
  • BINGO
  • Clap Hands, Clap Hands
  • Do Re Mi
  • Eeensy Weensy Spider
  • Five Little…. (monkeys, ducks)
  • GG and Gpa (sing to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle”)
      GG and Gpa are so much fun
      Playing and dancing
      Until the day is done
      Singing, laughing loving me
      We’re as happy as can be
  • Happy Birthday
  • If Your Happy and You Know It 
  • Jack and Jill
  • Koala Bear Turn Around
  • London Bridge is Falling Down
  • Mary Had A Little Lamb
  • Nick, Nack, Paddy, Whack (This Old Man)
  • Old McDonald Had A Farm
  • Pop Goes the Weasel
  • Q is for Quiet Please (sing to the tune of “Jingle Bells”)
      Quiet Please, Quiet Please
      Kids are in the school
      Singing, learning, having fun
      And Learning the Golden Rule
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Skip to My Lou
  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
    • U is for Unicorns (sing to the tune of” Old McDonald”)
        Unicorns are so much fun
        Oh yes, they are.
        And in the air they fly around
        Oh yes, they do!
        they have a long horn,
        they have 4 legs
      pretty colors
        and a shiny mane
        Unicorns are so much fun
        Oh yes, they are!
  • V is for Violin (sing to the tune “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”)
    Play, play, play a tune,
      on your violin.
      Meg is doing a really good job.
      Play it once again.
  • Wheels on the Bus
  • X is for X-ray (sing to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)
      X-ray starts with letter X,
      Letter X, Letter X.
      X-ray starts with letter X,
    X, X, X, X!
  • Yo Yo’s Are Fun (sing to the tune of “Row, Row, Your Boat”)
      Yo Yo’s are lot of fun
      Won’t you play with me
      Wrap the string
      Drop it down
      Pull it up again.
  • Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da!

Kids songs are a fabulous learning tool

Be prepared because we all know that little kids love repetition.  When you have heard “Five Little Ducks” or “Let it Go” for the hundredth time; try to remember that repetition encourages the use of words and memorization and that’s a good thing! Happy Singing!

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