Category Archives: Activities

Earth Day History, Info & Activities for Your Child

Helping Save The EarthEarth Day is an annual world-wide celebration day to show support for environmental protection. Started back in 1970, April 22nd brings to the forefront the changes that our planet has endured and heightens awareness of ways in which we can help and make it better. Earth Day led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

The theme for the 2013 Earth Day Celebration is The Face of Climate Change. We all feel the effects of climate change. Small variations in the weather,   droughts, poor crops affect not only humans but animals and their habitats as well.

  • In 2012 alone the National Weather Service recorded it to be the hottest year on record ever for the United States. Devastating droughts were reported across 2/3rds of the United States, as well as Brazil, Russia and parts of China.
  • Deforestation of Rainforests are driving not only animals out into other locations and reducing the clean oxygen levels in those areas but contributing to the global warming green house effect.
  • The Ice Caps are shrinking due to the global warming issues causing sea levels to rise in many places. As sea levels rise the threats of floods, landslides and less living space for animals such as Polar Bears in the Arctic.
  • Oceanic Dead Zones are increasing changing the migratory patterns of larger species like Whales  to areas where they can find plankton or small fish to feed on, thus changing the numbers of fish that come close to shore that fishermen can collect to feed their communities.

Each change or slight alteration causes a ripple effect throughout the world.

The Earth Day Network will be collecting and display images of people, places, and animals that are affected by climate change and the ways in which we can prevent and help to solve these changes.  A continued effort by the Billion Acts of Green movement rewards and inspires changes that are small such as  switching to LED light bulbs and washing laundry in cold water at your house to community planting efforts, installing solar panels, and recycling used electronics instead of trashing them. Any change no matter how small leads to changes worldwide that are huge!

Click here for instructions and a FREE activity to help your students understand the importance of the changes that they can make to keep the Earth as beautiful and as green as ever.

For more information on how you or your classroom can help the Climate Change movement:
www.earthday.org
www.nature.org
www.epa.gov/earthday

 

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Countdown to Christmas! {3 creative ideas}

by Diane Burdick, Ed.S

Comment on this post and be entered to win $20 to spend at The School Box  

Kids love counting down to Christmas. After all, it is one of the most exciting times of the year! But just how do you get ready for the season? If your answer is simply x-ing out the days on a calendar, might we suggest a few fun crafts to add to your classroom Christmas tradition repertoire?

Santa’s Disappearing Beard

Santa's beardThis idea, found here, is super simple to make!

1. Create a long Santa beard from lined paper (like notebook paper).

2. Add a face from construction paper.

3. Then clip off one line’s worth of the beard each day.

The shorter Santa’s beard gets, the closer you are to Christmas. Not only will kids enjoy snipping Santa’s beard, but it helps them visualize the length of time left before Christmas.

Merry Muffin Tins

merry muffin tinsMaybe instead of a traditional counting down calendar, you want give tiny gifts too. Sure, you could spend lots of money on a container, but consider repurposing something you already have around the house — a 24 count muffin tin — into the perfectly portioned gift container. Thanks to Heartland Paper for this ingenious idea!

1. Cut out circles of heavy paper (such as scrapbook paper, or cardstock covered with wrapping paper) slightly larger than the muffin tin openings.

2. Decorate each circle with a number for each day leading up to Christmas.

3. Attach a small magnet to the back of each circle, and cover each opening with the decorated circle.

4. Place a small trinket or piece of candy in each opening.

5. Display the new muffin tin calendar on the table, or tie a ribbon through the hole in the top of the tin and hang on the wall.

Chinese Takeout Containers

Chinese takeout adventIf you’re the type of person who loves to give gifts all season long, then garland made from numbered and decorated Chinese takeout containers will give you the perfect opportunity to tuck away gifts AND count down to the Big Guy’s arrival.

1. Purchase empty boxes at the craft store or online, and decorate each box with a number and bits of fabric or festive paper to make it look more Christmasy.

2. Fill each container with goodies— such as candies, freshly baked cookies, crafts or small toys.

3. Line up the containers on the fireplace mantle or clip to a piece of rope with clothespins for an enticing display.

This idea is courtesy of JustSewSassy.com. Find affordable containers in an array of colors here or here.

Any way you choose to celebrate the countdown to the most exciting day of the year, we hope you’ll find time for all the joys this season has to offer. 

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Favorite {FUN} Ways to Keep Learning!

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card! Winners are drawn each month.  

Don’t let summer turn into a brain bummer! There are a slew of super fun activities out there that keep mental skills sharp. Here are some favorite games, workbooks, and activities that parents can easily pull off all summer–without a lot of hassle. And, best part: kids LOVE them! In fact, the games would even make great birthday presents….

Games {for the whole family to play together}

Pathwords

The “Tetris meets Words Search” puzzle brings the fun of our popular PathWords game to younger players. Players exercise verbal and spatial reasoning as they place the Tetris-stylepuzzle pieces onto the challenge grid so the letters under each piece spell a word. Single player game. Ages 6+, Grades 1-4, $19.99.

Yikerz!

Place your magnets down on the board and try to avoid attracting the other pieces already played. The object is to get rid of all your pieces. If they collapse together, those pieces are yours to add to your stack. Includes travel pouch for portable fun! Ages 14+, $16.99.

Workbooks {good interactive ones!}

Summer Bridge

Help children maintain skills while away from school with this award-winning series and original summer learning program! Daily activities in reading, writing, math and language arts with bonus activities in science and geography. Also included are full-color flash cards, incentive contract calendars, a certificate of completion, and more! Grades PreK-8th, 160 pages, $14.99.

Summer Fit

This innovative workbook series integrates online resources with workbook-based learning to help students retain basic skills in reading, writing, math, and language arts while–get this!–keeping them physically active on a daily basis! The daily fitness routines in this series were developed with input from coaches and trainers throughout the country. Grades PreK-8th, $12.95.

Learning on the Go {for swim meets, vacations, car trips and more}

The perfectly portable, totally independent, completely interactive preschool learning system! Cards can be used alone as traditional flash cards, or when used with any Hot Dots or Hot Dots Jr. Pen (sold separately), fun lights and encouraging sounds guide children through the cute, colorful lessons. Each card set features 72 activities on double-sided cards and teaches children all they need for academic success. $14.99
 
Travel Blurt!
This handy, portable version of best-selling Blurt includes 75 new Blurt definition cards and 450 new Blurt clues. Take turns passing the cards, reading the definitions, and blurting out the answers. Ages 10+. 3-4 players, $12.99.

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Filed under Academic Success, Activities, Art, Parenting, Summer Learning

Meaningful Memorial Day Ideas

by Rachel Stepp

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Memorial Day holiday is coming up quickly as the summer begins! Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for all United States military members who have served and given their lives. It is an important holiday to remember and learn about.

Here are a few ideas to teach your children and to help make your Memorial Day memorable:

Learn the Basics

Teach your children the basics about Memorial Day. Did you know that the holiday was originally called Decoration Day? The first Memorial Day holiday was celebrated in 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared it a holiday.

Visit a Memorial

Visit your local military cemetery to commemorate those who have fought for our country. You can look up cemeteries near your house and place flags, flowers, and cards at grave sites. The following website can help you find a cemetery near or in your town: http://www2.va.gov.

Create a Flag

Search for a flag image, such as this one in black and white. Print the image and then use materials found around the house to decorate it in red, white, and blue. For example, you can use tissue paper that is torn into little pieces and glued onto the flag. Also, you can tear out small pieces of paper that would fit within the lines from magazines. By using magazine and newspaper clips, you can create a collage flag with varying shades of red, white, and blue. You could also use water color paint and enjoy the sunshine while painting the flag. When you are down with the flags, display them in your windows.

Visit a local Memorial Day Parade

Take your children to your community’s parade so that they can experience the impact of the holiday on the community’s citizens. Your children will feel involved and enjoy participating. They can even take their homemade flags to wave!

However you choose to celebrate the holiday, it is important to remember its importance. Plus, it’s the traditional marker of the beginning of summer!

 Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who regularly contributes creative ideas to A Learning Experience.

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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.

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

Student Appreciation Certificates (a warm fuzzy)

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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. 

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

Mother’s Day Craft: Rolled Pipe Cleaner Flowers

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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. 

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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!

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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.)

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It’s Slime Time!

We know you’ve seen those Hollywood productions that have a ghost, ghoul or other alien creature dripping, drooling or slinging their green and gooey stuff all over the place. It’s disgusting, it’s messy, but for some reason, kids (and even some adults) love this kind of stuff. Well, now you can create your very own batch of green goo. The best part? It only takes four ingredients and under five minutes from start to finish!

What You Need

  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Elmer’s Glue-All Glue
  • 1/4 Cup Liquid Starch
  • Food Coloring (green, red, or whatever color you wish)

How To Make It

  • Pour 1/4 cup of glue and 1/4 of water into a ziplock bag or bowl. Knead or stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Add six drops of food coloring to mixture. Knead or stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Pour in 1/4 cup of liquid starch. Mix thoroughly. Mixture should be fairly blobby at the start, but the more you play with it the  more stretchy it will become and easier to hold.

The Science Lesson

Voila! You’re done! But how does it work? The glue is a liquid polymer. This means that the tiny molecules in the glue are in strands like a chain. When you add the liquid starch, the strands of the polymer glue hold together, giving it its slimy feel. The starch acts as a cross-linker that links all the polymer strands together.

Make sure you keep the slime in a ziplock bag or sealed container when you’re not playing with it to preserve it for future fun time!

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