Monday, February 22, 2016

Teaching Strategies - Daily, Weekly, Month Calendar Observances

Have you heard the saying that 'everyday is a holiday'? Actually it is!!  A fun way to get your school day off and running is to take 5 to 10 minutes to feature the holiday of the day.  There are many things you can do - and activity sheet  - a web based scavenger hunt - a costume day - a video---featuring that particular holiday.

Here's an example! Today is George Washington's birthday. Start out with trivia based fun facts.
What did George Washington eat for breakfast? Did he really have wooden teeth? What was his favorite food?  Here'a  good source to find those answers:

The Men on the Mountain activity is a good follow up to this discussion.

Find the activity at

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Another Teaching Tool - Fun With Acrostics

Acrostics are a great tool to use in broadening students thinking about a particular topic! Students write the letters of the assigned topic/word down the left side of a sheet of paper - one letter per line. Students then are asked to write about the topic incorporating the letters on each line in their description.

Let's take a look a specific example!

This activity focuses on pedestrian safety. The acrostic is in two formats - A 'complete the sentence' activity where students fill in the missing word and a blank sheet that allow students to be creative in writing their descriptions.

Find this activity at the KidZ Learning Connection Store:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Picture It! Write It! A Vocabulary Teaching Strategy

Most of us are visual learners. Most of us learn by doing something with the new topic - word - concept - idea. 

This tool is  great way for students to learn new vocabulary words. Here's how it works! Students draw a picture or write descriptive words about the topic. They then respond to the writing prompt using the picture or words to guide the writing. 

A simple, but effective visual learning tool!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Getting Ready for a New Week - Time Management Tips

Does your To Do  List everyday look like this??

I have to admit it ---I'm one of those 'list people." I start each day with a To Do List that includes things to do for work - things to do that relate to home projects---things to do for other people (cards, calls, etc.) and then I have a separate list for groceries!

How do I manage all my list(s)?  It's human nature to the easiest things first - and I do----but I allow myself a two hour window for that --and then tackle the hardest items from what's remaining on my list next. 

What about the things that don't get done?? They go on the next day's list - and are tackled first!

A final tip is to keep the number of items on your list to something that is manageable. It's humanly impossible to complete a list with 25 or more items!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Using Rubrics as a Teaching Strategy

Rubrics are an effective teaching and learning guide, as well as an assessment tool. Rubrics should always be the first thing that is provided to students when an assignment is given.  Students can then use the tool as a guide for their project or a writing assignment.  The rubrics I create all use criteria according to the letters of the word "SCORE."  This makes it easy for both students and teachers to remember!

Here's an example! Use this rubric for In Class Assignments.

Find the rubric at  Class Assignment Score Rubric

Friday, January 22, 2016

Teaching Strategies- A Math Magic Square Game

Games are a fun way to introduce a new topic, summarize a topic or check for understanding. 

Magic square games provide instant feedback as to correct answers, as each row and column should total to be the same number.  

This example uses Stranger Safety as the topic. Students read the sentences and then find the missing word in the table.  The sentence number is written in the square with the correct word. Once all sixteen sentences are completed in this manner, students total all rows and columns to come up with the 'magic number.'

Magic squares can made for 9, 16, 25 or more sentences.

Stranger Safety Magic Squares is a great way to teach math skills in combination with concepts any academic subject!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Picture It! Write It! Another Fun Teaching Strategy

What you see here is a picture of my four year old Grandson's hand.  "Grandma, I can draw my hand."  - and he did just that!  He uses a drawing tool toy that has provided hours of fun and learning!

We are first visual learners ---so the Picture It - Write It Strategy works well for younger ---and even older students.

The activity picture above is a more structured approach to introducing a topic.  Ask students to draw a picture of the topic - in this case a stranger. Their pictures can be shared and used to lead the discussion of stranger safety.  As a summary of learning, students can complete the 'A stranger is...." writing prompt.

Find many more stranger safety activities at the KidZ Learning Connection store!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Venn Diagrams - A Compare/Contrast Teaching Strategy

Venn Diagrams are a great tool to use for when asking students to compare/contrast different topics or characters. Students complete the diagram by listing how the topics  that are alike and aspects where they differ. Students can easily see the differences or similarities of the topic when finished. 

This activity takes Venn Diagrams a step further by providing the statements and asking students to categorize and list the sentence number on the Venn.  If completed correctly, each of the three Venn sections will total to be the same number.

Find the Bullying or Teasing Venn at

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Using Posters as Teaching Tools

How often have you used a poster to introduce a topic and to lead a discussion??  Posters are a fun and different way to focus attention and to generate student comments.  Posters can also be used to 'wrap up' a lesson too.  Here's how it works!

1. Display the Poster at the front of the room.  You may wish to project it using the Smart Board, post it on the wall/bulletin board or ask students to gather around you by sitting on the floor with you holding the poster. 

2. Lets use Police Officer Pam and Stranger Safety as an example. 

3.  Use these questions to being discussion, introduce the topic and delve deeper into stranger safety.
a.  What do you see in this poster?
b.  Who is a stranger?
c. What do you know about strangers?
d. Do you have stranger safety rules that you follow at home? What are these rules?
e. Read the first safety star rule to students. Then ask students to share their comments.  Is this a good rule to follow?  Have you every had someone come to the door when you were home alone? Follow this same procedure with the remaining safety star tips. You may wish to have students read the safety rules.
f. Review with students what to do if they are approached by a stranger. Cover the "no-go-yell-tell" procedure with students.

4.  Learning Application. The safety star rules on this poster provide role play scenarios as well. If time permits, assign students/student groups to role play the rules.

.5. Learning Application.  To summarize the lesson ask students to complete the "Who is A Stranger" activity and then share their responses with the class. 

Find the posters and activities on the KidZ Learning Connection store!


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Cluster Maps - A Teaching Strategy

Cluster Maps

Cluster Maps are a great organizing tool. They help to break down a topic into "bite size" pieces to turn a hard to understand topic into a picture! This is a tool that works well for visual learners.  This cluster map looks at the MyPlate Food Groups and Foods that belong to each group.

Find the activity on the KidZ Learning Connection Store: 


This lesson can be an individual, small group, or large group activity. 

1. Introduce the lesson by telling students that eating foods from each of the 5 food groups everyday helps them stay healthy and well.  
2.  Ask them to list foods they ate yesterday. Write their responses on the board. The list will become quite long.
3. Go back to the top of the list and ask students to categorize each food listed by one of the 5 food groups - fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.. 
3. Ask students to complete the Foods and Food Group activity. If time permits, ask students to share their responses with the class. 
4. Use the books and/or video below as a follow up activity.

Books and Videos:

The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Thoughts and Planning for a New Year -----

I read a great article the other day that got me to think..........We're three days into the new year and a lot of what we read about deals with resolutions and change. This article challenged us to answer these three questions and condense them down into one word. So I did that!

Questions for Change:What do I want for the new year? What's in my way? What do I need to change? 

My Word:  Better
Actually I did two words - Better and Fun

I'm not going to change the world. I'm going to try to be a better person and to do things better. I'm also going to make sure that what I'm doing is fun - whether it's work or  at home. Fun can be a mindset too!

The article goes on to suggest that you post your 'word' ---on the refrigerator - the bulletin board - a mirror - so serve as a constant reminder.

I'm going to have a 'better and fun' year. How about you??

(P.S. Why not try this with activity with your students this week?)