18 Teacher Tips for a Festive February

Recycled craft projects, travelling flash cards, and other fun ways to celebrate February's many milestones

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
Hey, it’s the Hundredth!

Here’s what four teachers do to ring in the 100th day of school.
100th Day Olympiad
My students estimate what they can accomplish in 100 seconds. I time them in a variety of activities, such as how many times they can write their name, how many jumping jacks they can do, and so on. The students who are closest to their estimates receive a “medal” made from yarn and paper, and we have a ceremony to celebrate! —Amie V. Powell, York, SC

100th Day Snake
To practice estimation, I give five one-inch colored tiles to each of my 20 second-grade students. We mark a spot on the floor to show how far from the wall we think our 100-inch snake can reach, then we lay the tiles end-to-end to see the result! —Ralph Cantito, Waterbury, CT

100 Birthdays
I use the 100th day of school to discuss the concept of time with my students. We talk about the past 100 days and what the next 100 days might bring. We talk about how different life was 100 years ago and what life might be like 100 years from now. Then each student writes a story that begins with: “When I am 100 years old.…” Students also use wrinkled paper to create “100th birthday portraits” of themselves! —Janice Thayer, Bristol, VA

100 Compliments
I teach 20 fourth graders, and each one has a first-grade buddy. On a banner, I have each student write five things he or she likes about his or her buddy. We make sure no compliment is repeated, and present the banner of 100 compliments to our buddy group! —Dina Hardt, Milford, CT

Don't let the mid-year doldrums get you down! Here are eighteen teacher-recommended ways to celebrate February's many holidays:

ABC Poster
One of the projects I do every year is an Eric Carle–inspired alphabet poster. Just like the illustrator, the kids create their own hand-painted paper. Then, we use stencils to draw the letters of the alphabet, punch them out, and paste them on large posters. I laminate them so the kids can practice the alphabet at home. —Jeremy Brunaccioni, Conway, MA

Hats Off to 100
My students make hats decorated with exactly 100 items. From buttons and stars to paper clips and stickers, they end up with some pretty wacky creations! —Missy Presley, Pinson, AL (For more 100 ideas, see side bar)

Recycled city
My first graders created a model of our city using recyclable materials. We constructed animals from soda cans and egg cartons, buildings from empty boxes, a mountain from paper grocery bags, a boat from a plastic bottle, and houses from tissue boxes! —Courtney Hudson, Lynchburg, VA

How Many Snowballs?
For a fun, winter-themed estimation project, I draw a large snowman on tagboard and glue down cotton-ball “snowballs” to cover it, counting as I go. I then hang the snowman in my classroom and ask my students, “How many snowballs can a snowman hold?” The child who comes the closest to the actual number gets to take the snowman home for winter break! —Ann Marie Stephens, Manassas, VA

A History of Invention
For Black History Month, my class studies African-American inventors and their famous inventions, like George Washington Carver and his work with peanuts, Garret A. Morgan, who patented the traffic signal, and Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the popular “Super Soaker” water-blasting toy! Students work in pairs to research an inventor. I then take a photo of students using the invention as it looks today. —Brooke L. Feingold, Great Neck, NY

MLK Day
Each year, I have my kindergarten students celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday by making “dream” pins. We use small wooden hearts from the craft store, and the kids paint them to look like the earth. They attach two cardboard puzzle pieces—one is painted white and the other brown—to the heart. We then glue all the pieces together, stamp the word dream on the surface, and attach a pin to the back. The kids love wearing these dream pins on their jackets and book bags! —Susan Fabian, New Hyde Park, NY

Cereal-Box Landmarks
I have my students use cereal boxes to display information they’ve learned about U.S. landmarks. They start with a used cereal box from home and cover it with paper. Then, they decorate their box with information about their chosen landmark, and we display the boxes for all to see. Some students extend the information to show they can “think outside the box!” —Tracy Lorenzini, Oreland, PA

Meaningful Valentines
Sometimes, the meaning of St. Valentine’s Day can get lost in the classroom; children often exchange the same manufactured cards year after year. Instead, the students in my classroom give love and caring to those who need it most. Rather than exchanging valentines with one another, we send homemade valentines to the local hospital. It’s a memorable and unique way to show love to our community, and the kids feel good about what they’ve accomplished. —Pam Tabor, Miami, FL

 


Mardi Gras Fun
Celebrating Mardi Gras is a great way to teach kids about cultural celebrations. We make masks in the traditional holiday colors—yellow, purple, and green —and practice saying a holiday greeting in French! Laissez les bons temps rouler means “let the good times roll!” —Dana Nazarro, New Haven, CT

Traveling Flash Cards
To practice addition and subtraction, my students write a simple equation (such as 8 + 3) on one side of an index card, and the answer (11) on the other. Then, they punch a hole at the top and string it with yarn to make a necklace. When they walk around the classroom wearing their cards, they become traveling flash cards. They take turns reading one another’s problems, solving them, and flipping the cards to check the answers! —Laura LaPerna, Pompano Beach, FL

Get Organized!
Everyone starts the school year with a clean, fresh notebook and good intentions, but by January, it may be time for some reorganization. That’s where the M.O.B. comes in—My Organized Binder! I get inexpensive flexible binders for students and include four different colored folders: one for school-home communication, one for homework, one for graded papers, and one for reading records. It really keeps kids organized. —Katy Hoh, Pitman, NJ

Puff the Magic Snowman
During the holiday season, our class makes a fun wintry scene using homemade puffy paint! We mix together equal parts shaving cream and glue and use a paintbrush to make snow people on dark blue construction paper. The paint looks kind of like cake frosting, and once it dries, it puffs up like magic! --JoAnn Ianniello, Astoria, NY

Math on the Border
I’ve turned commercial bulletin-board borders into math teaching tools! Any border with repeated pictures—such as apples or snowmen—can reinforce multiplication. Cover parts of the border with paper and write matching math facts. For instance, to teach multiples of 2, let the first two snowmen show, cover the third with paper labeled 1 × 2 = 2, show two more snowmen, then 2 × 2 = 4, and so on. Any multiple or theme works! —Jacquelyn Howes, Weatogue, CT

We’re Only Human
For Black History Month, we expand our study of the civil rights movement to include the human rights of people all over the world. They learn important vocabulary, such as equality, prejudice, justice, and injustice. By the end of our unit, students learn that they are all part of one race: the human race.
—Jill Lewis, Dyersberg, TN

  • Subjects:
    Reading, Arts and Crafts, Hobbies, Play, Recreation, Visual Arts
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