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Alycia

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Alycia

I live in New York

I teach 3rd grade

I am an almost-digital-native and Ms. Frizzle wannabe

Rhonda

I live in New Jersey

I teach 6th grade literacy

I am passionate about my students becoming lifelong readers and writers

Beth

I live in Michigan

I teach 3rd grade

I am an enthusiastic teacher and techie, and a mom of three boys

Erin

I live in Michigan

I teach 2nd grade

I am a Tweet loving, technology integrating, mom of two with a passion for classroom design!

John

I live in New York

I teach writing for grades 5-8

I am a sharpener of minds who keeps students' thinking on point

Genia

I live in Michigan

I teach third grade

I am a teacher who loves sparking the curiosity that ignites a child's learning

Kriscia

I live in California

I teach 2nd and 3rd grades

I am an eager educator, on the hunt to find the brilliance in all

Brian

I live in North Carolina

I teach kindergarten

I am a kindergarten teacher who takes creating a fun, engaging classroom seriously

Lindsey

I live in Illinois

I teach 4th grade

I am a theme-weaving, bargain-hunting, creative public educator

Shari

I live in Idaho

I teach kindergarten

I am a wife, mom, and home chef who loves cooking up ways to make learning fun in school

Christy

I live in New York

I teach K-5 technology

I am a proud supporter of American public education and a tech integrationist

Amanda

I live in Illinois

I teach 1st and 2nd grades

I am a jewelry-making, pet-loving, runner, crafter, and bilingual teacher

Allie

I live in Nevada

I teach kindergarten

I am a loving, enthusiastic teacher whose goal is to make learning exciting for every child

Learning That Blends With the Season

By Angela Bunyi on December 5, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5

Despite the crazy pace that comes with the season, the show must go on, right? If you find yourself struggling to keep a focus on academics in your class, I have a solution for you. It's a modified twist on the saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." In this case, I would like to share some engaging and challenging activities that take advantage of this time of year. So join in the fun, and read on!

 

Film an Educational Movie

I typically reserve the week of Thanksgiving and the last week of school in December for class filming. We often use a green screen program along with a program called CrazyTalk that allows you to animate anything you'd like using your students' voices.

Here is our latest video, which was very educational and a lot of fun.

 

 

To learn how you can make a video of your own, see two posts I wrote a few years ago: "Easy Movie Making With a Green Screen" and "Animated Cell Interview: CrazyTalk Program."

 

Make a Christmas Factor Tree

As we started a lesson on how to simplify fractions a few years ago, a student came up with the idea of making a factor tree to give it a holiday twist. I just loved it, and added two more steps to the idea: prime number bulbs and composite number bulbs. Students selected larger two- and three-digit numbers and made a fun "factor tree" for our hallway display. Too much fun. This picture is from one of my previous classes of 3rd graders.

 

 

 

Make Holiday "Branches" of Government

Ask your local Christmas tree farm for some pine branches this year. Our farm directed me to a large box of free branches and even wrapped it up to go. Following our government unit, we made nice, smelly "branches" of government. Here are pictures from a few of my previous classes. To put a literacy twist on it, you could play with root words in a similar fashion.

 

Create Christmas Geo-Ornaments

I attended a fantastic workshop at Confratute one summer on using origami to teach geometry. Below is a photo of one of the pieces I made during that workshop. This exercise can be completed with the help of a parent or in small group rotations during math. This is a great indoor recess activity, as well, because who doesn't want to make a cantellated tetrahedron?

Check out this site for printable geometric nets, useful for reviewing the edges and faces of basic shapes before beginning.

 

 

 

Apply Measuring Skills to a Life-Sized Abominable Snowman

At the same great conference, Kathy Gavin showcased a fabulous unit on measuring that starts with a trip to the Himalayas. Equipped only with an unsharpened pencil, you find a large, unidentified footstep in the snow. You measure the length as two pencils long. Could it be the famous Yeti?

For the assignment, students are broken up into small groups to use this piece of data to decide how to piece together different portions of the body. For example, my group was in charge of providing the right arm, along with an explanation of how we figured out the length. So much fun! In our session, we had seven groups (head and neck, left arm, right arm, body/torso, right leg, left leg, and feet). I also located a site that provides 360-degree, panoramic views of the Himalayas. 

Photo: I was blown away by how accurate our groups were with their math work.

 

Use Measuring Skills to Make Reindeer Food

 

Students really seem to enjoy this activity from DLTK's Growing Together,in which we use measuring cups to create reindeer food. The ingredients include 1/2 c. oatmeal, 1/4 c. sugar, and 2 tbs. food sprinkles. We include a special poem in the mix.

 

Teach Series and Parallel Lighting With Christmas Lights

I discovered this activity by accident some years ago, when I noted that some of the lights on our Christmas tree worked and others didn't (see the photo). It was a good lesson. Find the labels on the boxes, pull them out, and demonstrate the two types of lighting. You can hypothesize which type of lighting is cheaper, too.

 

Surprise Your Class With a Hot Cocoa Treat

 

Because I lived in Vaxjo, Sweden, for six months, I can't let the holiday season pass without teaching my class about Saint Lucia. 

For several years I have surprised my class with a warm cup of hot cocoa with candy cane stirrers on their desk in the morning. I purchased two coffee pots a few years ago and use them to make the cocoa. It has always been a huge hit, but it works best if you wait for a cold morning.

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