Monthly Archives: April 2012

Recycled Ocean Bulletin Board {with how-to pics!}

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

This fabulous idea was found organically (no pun intended) when my son’s pre-K class was learning about both recycling and the ocean. His {wonderful} teachers Lindsey Allman and Ariana Hull combined the two units in this uber-creative bulletin board, featuring an array of marine life made by the children out of materials pilfered from their recycling bins.

Check out the pictures below. This bulletin board is too cute not to share…and recreate!

How to build your own recycled ocean: 

The bulletin board was covered in white paper and then topped with crinkled blue cellophane wrap. Add a sandy ocean floor made out of textured scrapbook paper, white paper painted sandy tones, sandpaper, or a roll of craft paper. You could even get creative and have the children glue on dry grits: Paint white glue (thinned with a bit of water) over paper with a large brush, sprinkle on grits as you would glitter, allow to dry, dump off the excess, and hang.

The items can be attached to the board with staples, strong tape like Mavalus Mounting Tape, and/or a glue gun.

Add some yogurt-container ribbon jelly fish. The children loved painting their “trash!”

Check out the empty detergent-bottle Shamu!

Here’s how Shamu was attached…a little ingenuity, a little ribbon, and some staples. :)

How cute is this cardboard sea turtle with an egg carton head?

This empty container was inverted, painted, and given eight streamer tentacles with bead suctions. Adorable octopus!

A school of water-bottle fish is happily swimming in the corner. The bottles were cut by the teacher and their “tails” were stapled shut. The children customized their own fishies.

Some empty bottles cut into strips and painted green became seaweed. (Others were painted orange and assembled into coral.)

Paint and streamers transformed this drink bottle into a giant squid.

These three little egg carton clams may just be my favorite.

I like the idea of including a “what was learned” paragraph with the bulletin board, especially since this one is hanging in the hallway outside the classroom:

See why I had to share this idea? This bulletin board epitomizes a great culminating project: it combines two units of study, allows the children to utilize their creativity, and results in stunning student-made decor. Fabulous!

And…the class had loads of fun building this “recycled robot” out of their leftover trash:

credits:

Many thanks to Ariana Hull and Lindsey Allman with Primrose Schools for these awesome ideas. Your creativity is inspiring!

Click here for more ocean-themed activities, courtesy of The School Box.

Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed. has a bachelors in education from The University of Georgia and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University, Cambridge. In addition to being the editor of A Learning Experience, she publishes Little Black Dress | Little Red Wagon Magazine. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, and a frisky Westie named Munson.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Activities, Art, Classroom Decor, Science, Social Studies

Summer Reading Blog {how and why to start one with your class}

by Diane Burdick, M. Ed.

 Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

We all want our students to stay mentally active over the long summer months, and summer reading is a tried-and-true way to achieve this. But, to banish the negative associations of the dreaded “required summer reading” list, while not create a class blog that shares fun reading options and book recommendations?

Various teachers, the school media specialist, and even older students can all post on the blog, sharing ideas and reading recommendations.

How To Get Started

  1. Set up a blog through a free blog hosting company, like WordPress.com or Blogger.com.
  2. Write your first post. You can upload pictures, book cover images, etc., and free templates are also available for blogs from places like The Cutest Blog on the Block (if you want to get cutesy).
  3. Create a summer schedule of who will post when. For example, assign each participating teacher, student and librarian a specific date to post their entry. Two posts on the blog per week would be ideal, but even one per week would be fine. So, if you have five participating teachers, each could post twice during the summer. That’s not too time consuming! If students post, you could potentially have a new post every day or every-other day, depending on the number of students.

What to Post About

Include blog posts about books students might be interested in, such as books by local authors, and books in a series by authors your students have already read. Be sure to create good tags or descriptions so that your students can look up what type of books they may interest in. Many book stores offer summer book clubs, book signings or other literary events; those would make great posts, as well.

What Students Should Post About

Allow students to post comments on the book summaries, or list how many books they have read themselves over the summer. Encourage them to submit recommendations of books they are loving (or hating!). A little instruction may be necessary to teach students how to write a book review/recommendation without spoiling the ending.

Motivate Participation

Incentives: Of course, you could work with next year’s teachers to require your students to participate with the blog. You (and next year’s teachers) could also incentivize: students who post a thoughtful blog entry could receive an automatic 10 bonus points toward a test or assignment during the upcoming year, or they could earn a special reward on the first day of school (a candybar, privilege, homework pass, etc.).

Polls: Generate more activity on the blog by including polls. Include poll questions like: What genre do you like best? (mystery/suspense, historical fiction, biography, fiction, science fiction, etc.)

Pictures: Liven up the blog with frequent pictures, such as covers of the books you mention in postings, as well as photos taken at the library. Consider adding activities to the blog suggesting fun activities such as a scavenger hunt at the library, or a competition where students submit photos of them dressed like their favorite characters. Allow younger students to draw pictures of their favorite scene from the book, and post the pictures online too.

Security Settings

Make sure you (and a fellow teacher or two) approve all students posts before they go live. And consider using private settings on the blog, too, to ensure that only approved people have access.

Some Interesting Blogs to Check Out
To get inspired, check out these reading blogs:

GreenBeanTeenQueen. A librarian blogger who provides reviews on teen and tween literature.

MotherReader. This mom writes fun and interesting posts mostly featuring picture books.

Happy summer blogging!

1 Comment

Filed under Academic Success, Home Schooling, Reading, Summer Learning

Student Appreciation Certificates (a warm fuzzy)

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card! 

by Diane Burdick, M. Ed.

Believe it or not, one of the fondest memories of my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Krause, was forged the last day of school.

Once the school desks where pushed to the side of the room, all the supplies were put up, and the room cleaned from top to bottom, Mrs. Krause called us to the center of the room where we sat down in a large circle. She told us how much she had enjoyed the year getting to know each one of us in her classroom, then presented us each with our own individual award certificate.

Instead of a generic certificate that said something like “great job this year,” Mrs. Krause awarded each student a personalized certificate that showed specifically why that student was special to her. For example, the shyest kid in the class, who gave her a hug every morning when he walked into the classroom, received the “Best Hugger” award. She passed out a “Sleepiest” award to the child who showed up late to school most mornings because she had overslept, and she awarded the “Where Is It?” award to the child who forgot her homework and permission slips most often.

Although it didn’t take much time for Mrs. Krause to physically create each award—she used a certificate from the local teacher supply store—she did take the time to think of why each child was special, which is a great way to leave a lasting impression from the school year.

How to Create Your Own

This year, consider forming a short list of the things that make each student in your class unique, and then create a special award for each student. Four easy places to start:

1. Purchase a pack of customizable paper certificates like these achievement certificates or this “awesome” award (shown right) from The School Box.

2. Or open up the “certificate” setting in your Word software. Download the free printable/savable pdf of the four award stamps featured below right, to add to your awards. Click here for download: Award Stamps. 

3. Or download an award from www.123certificates.com/formal.php.

4. Or use one of these great printable certificates from www.familyshoppingbag.com.

Consider adding your school mascot or logo to further personalize the awards.

The Award I Earned

When I got home that day from school, I proudly showed my mother the certificate Mrs. Krause had given me. While my mom wasn’t thrilled that I received the “Where Is It?” award, I was touched that my teacher would turn something that could have been a frustration into something that became an endearment.

As teachers, we’re all eager to end the year with a bang, and we’re all excited (let’s admit) about the prospects of summer. But, let’s also remember that we can make a lasting impact on our students with a gesture as simple as a hand-written certificate. Decades later, I still remember fifth grade–and, yes, Mrs. Krause–fondly. 

4 Comments

Filed under Academic Success, Activities, Classroom Community, Motivation, Teaching

Mother’s Day Craft: Rolled Pipe Cleaner Flowers

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

You have a secret. You want to be outside enjoying the mild spring weather just as much as your students do. Don’t worry; we won’t tell. But we will provide you with a fun craft, courtesy of Diane Burdick, M. Ed., to bring some of that springtime beauty inside. {It’s the least we could do.}

And…this idea also makes a super cute (and affordable) Mother’s Day gift!

Pipe Cleaner Flowers

The beauty of this craft (aside from the finished product) is that it uses a cheap classroom staple: colored pipe cleaners. Use only pipe cleaners, if you so desire, or add a few more embellishments, such as buttons, pom-poms, beads, silk flower leaves or jewels to add a bit of fancy to your flowers.

Options (and shapes!) are endless. We were inspired by the three variations pictured from MakeandTakes.com (above left), Martha Stewart Weddings (right), and Crunchy Catholic Mama (below; dontcha love that blog’s name?).

Things You’ll Need

6 12”-pipe cleaners in an array of colors for each flower

2 12”-green pipe cleaners for each flower stem and leaf

Optional supplies: ribbon (to tie around the flowers), or a small terra cotta pot, glue, and dry grits or dry rice (to plant the flowers)

What You’ll Do

  1. Bundle together six pipe cleaners of the same color; straighten pipe cleaners so that the ends line up evenly. Twist the bunch in the middle about four times, until the outside edges look like a bow-tie or cat whiskers.
  2. Twist the end of a green piece of pipe cleaner around the middle of this “bow-tie” to create the stem.
  3. Twist the petal-colored pipe cleaner around one more time to ensure the “stem” is attached to the “petals”. (For a sturdier stem, fold the green stem in half from the bottom up.)
  4. Spread out the “petal” pieces out into individual strands, and roll each petal piece inward until you reach the center. Work around the flower, rolling up each piece. You can bend and angle the “petals” to give your flower a fuller look.
  5. Add a “leaf” to the flower by wrapping another green pipe cleaner at the base of the “petal.” Roll the pipe cleaner as you did the “petals,” and pinch it a bit at the top to give it a leaf shape.

Present the flowers to the recipient individually, or gather a few in a bunch for greater impact. Wrap with a ribbon or with another colored pipe cleaner to make an attractive bundle.

To “plant” the flowers in a pot, mix dry grits or rice with white glue and pour into the bottom of a small terra cotta pot (with the drain whole covered on the inside with a scrap of paper). Stick the pipe cleaner flowers into the glue-grits/rice mixture and allow to dry.

Happy spring! It may not be a full-blown garden, but these flowers will bring a bit of welcomed color into your classroom. 

3 Comments

Filed under Activities, Art, Holidays

Let’s Get Together: Promoting class unity

by Kristin M. Woolums, M. Ed. 

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card! (You can use it online, as well, so no worries if there’s not a location near you). 

Do your kiddos have spring fever? If behavior problems seem a bit more rampant these days, take a step back and focus on your classroom community. A little student bonding can go a long way toward squelching disputes and disruptions. Try this all-time favorite to get your kiddos showin’ a little love.

Make a Connecting Web

  1. Have the group sit in a large circle.
  2. With a ball of yarn in your hand, pick a student to praise (maybe an unlikely candidate), and toss the ball while holding onto the end of the yarn.
  3. That student then praises someone, and tosses the ball (while also still holding onto their end of the yarn).
  4. Continue until every person has heard something nice about him/herself and has had the opportunity to throw the yarn and say something nice to another student.
  5. Once the web is complete, go backwards to unwind the web: Now, the person who received a compliment will throw the yarn back to their compliment-giver, giving them a compliment in return. This time, don’t hold onto the yarn while you throw, and wind up the loose piece as you go. By the end, everyone will have given and received much-needed praise, and your ball of yarn will be a ball once more.
  6. To conclude, give each student a piece of the web to wear on his/her wrist to symbolize the friendship of the class. (Or make simple yarn bracelets with this adorable art yarn.)

Connection is essential to the success of the students in any classroom. Fostering those relationships, even during your final days together, will make for happy memories and a peaceful classroom.

Kristin M. Woolums, M. Ed., teaches fifth grade at a private school in Atlanta.

1 Comment

Filed under Bullying, Classroom Community, Discipline

More Pinterest Classroom Finds!

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card. (Who couldn’t use that?)

Once spring break is over, it’s a mad dash to the finish of the school year. But it’s also a great opportunity to make a lasting impact in your students’ memories with relevant, hands-on activities. Here are two of our faves–found via Pinterest. (Yes, we’re addicted, too.)

Very Hungry Caterpillar Printables!

We love this idea from Teaching Heart Blog of making a Very Hungry Caterpillar paper bag and then using the provided printables to “feed” the caterpillar. So cute! It would make a dandy spring activity, and it has some good center possibilities, too. Think of what else your students could categorize, count, and feed to that hungry caterpillar: cotton balls, paperclips, small manipulatives. Or, search “snacks” or “food” on Google images, like we did here, and then print an array of snackies for your students to cut out and feed to the caterpillar!


Fingerprint Tree

We love any idea that’s both aesthetic and artful. Here’s a beauty! This could have two purposes: 1) What a fabulous Mother’s Day gift idea for students to make for their mamas! And 2) You could make one as a class, and then reproduce it for each student to keep, as an end-of-the-year keepsake.

The idea originally came from Carolina Pad products. All you’d need are paints and a heavy duty piece of paper or canvas (one per class if it’s a class keepsake or one per child, if it’s for Mother’s Day). For Mother’s Day, each student would repeatedly make their own fingerprints to cover their trees. For a class keepsake, every child in the class would add their fingerprints to one class tree. Either way, this idea is preciousness!

Comments Off on More Pinterest Classroom Finds!

Filed under Activities, Art, Classroom Decor, Holidays, Reading

This Owl Hand Puppet Is A HOOT!

Looking for a quick, easy craft that’s a hoot to make? Then look no further! Make your very own Owl Hand Puppt with just a bag, some colored paper and a couple of other materials.

 What you need

• Brown Paper Bag
• Brown Construction Paper
• White Construction Paper
• Yellow Construction Paper
• Glue Stick
• 15mm Wiggle Eyes
• Black marker

How To Make It

  • Cut a 5.5″ square out of brown construction paper and then cut in half to make triangle (Owl’s face)
  • Trace child’s hands and cut out from brown construction paper (Owl’s wings)
  • Trace a round object approximately 2″ in diameter and cut out from white construction paper (Owl’s eyes)
  • Cut a triangle out of yellow construction paper (Owl’s beak)
  • Using the glue stick, attach the Owl’s head, then eyes, then nose.
  • Next attach the wiggle eyes and then finally the Owl’s wings.
  • Draw feather marks with a black sharpie or other marker.

That’s it! Now you can put on your own puppet show! (Sorry, you’ll have to provide the popcorn and drinks.)

1 Comment

Filed under Activities, Crafts