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Idea Swap: Pumpkins, Testing Tricks, and More

Teachers share their pumpkin ideas, root word activities, testing tricks, art projects and more

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

  • Storyboard Walls
    Using a DoodleRoll, our students worked together to lay out illustrated storyboards. The stories were theme based, which included love, peace, and adventure. The younger kids mostly colored and scribbled, but the older kids conveyed well thought-out messages about our community. We use the DoodleRoll because it allows students to collaborate on a long roll (versus separate pages), and it hangs nicely around the perimeter of the room. —Folwell Dunbar
     
  • Schoolyard Notes
    Fall weather is perfect for outdoor exploration. I ask students to take a notebook outside and make notes on how they would like to improve their schoolyard area. They come up with some excellent ideas! —Ellen Kemeza Hildenbrand
     
  • Creative Writing Portfolios
    My students make creative writing portfolios to store all of their work for the year. Students decorate a plain pocket folder with pictures, photographs, and craft supplies that represent people, places, or things that are important to them. It is also useful later in the year when students are looking for writing topic ideas or for journal topics. I also create one, so students learn about me, too! —Monique McNab
     
  • Test Review Game
    Test review can always make kids antsy. We play this game to get them out of their seats! Begin by playing music and asking students to walk around the room. When the music stops, students have to put their hand up and pair with the closest person to answer a test review question. I sometimes give each student a flash card (any subject) and have them move around sharing the information on the card. —Dama Marie
     
  • Pumpkin Fest
    In the month of October, my first graders and I explore pumpkins every Friday. The first Friday, we cut open a huge pumpkin and touch it and then draw what is inside. We find and count all the seeds. Later, we each have a small pumpkin to weigh. We calculate the weight of all the pumpkins. And lastly, we paint them to resemble book and fairy-tale characters! —Anna Bloniarz
     
  • Root Words
    To learn our root words, we come up with physical movement associations to help students remember each one. For example, I hold up an index card that says “geo,” and students say “Earth” and form a large circle with their arms to model a sphere shape. This helps with vocabulary development, and it’s fun! —Paige Douglass Ward
     
  • Try Classical Music
    I play Vivaldi’s The Four Seasonsand ask my students to listen to each piece and write down what scenery, objects, or experiences they “visualize.” Then I clarify which season was which and we discuss the piece of music as it is playing. For example, I ask them if they can hear — and see — the snow blowing in “Winter.” It is a great way to associate the type of weather in each season. —Katherine Summers
     
  • Hula-Hoop Pass
    My students love this Hula-Hoop Pass game. Start by linking a Hula-Hoop on one child’s arm, and then ask students to all hold hands in a circle. Next, have them pass the Hula-Hoop around the circle without letting go of hands. See if they can make it all the way around, and listen to the giggling! —Jennifer Goss Hoyer
     
  • Restaurant Reviewing
    Each year, I have my second-grade students write a review of a restaurant they have visited in our community with their families. Students’ reviews include where they ate, the history of the restaurant, and an honest review of their meal and experience. I assign it as a part of a persuasive writing unit or part of our social studies unit on communities. —Carolyn Gardner
     
  • Nature Notebooks
    In the fall, I often take short walks outside with my sixth-grade science class. We keep our eyes and ears open and record observations in nature notebooks. Sometimes we collect bark, identify leaves, or note the birds we encounter. —Jen Stelzig
     
  • Make Recycled Art
    In my art class, we reduce, reuse, and recycle, in addition to making beautiful art! Using anything from candy wrappers to soda bottles to trash bags, we build wall hangings like this tree. This technique is great for schools where budgets have been cut; art still thrives because these materials are free! —Amy Migliore

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